I received an email from a subscriber of mine who asked a question that I thought I should address in this article because it touched on a few things that required explanation that would be helpful to people in similar situations.
Here’s the loaded question
I’m looking for some direction with my job hunt.
I was laid off a few month ago and received severance. I just accepted another job a few days ago but it’s not in my target field. It’s not the job function or industry I want to be in, so I’m still actively looking for another job.
Should I add this new job to my résumé to show that I’m employed? That way, there will be less of a gap in my résumé.
Here’s my loaded answer
Before I answer the “do-I-include-my-new-job-in-my-résumé” question, the first thing that hit me was this – why would you take a job that you DON’T want?
Isn’t the whole point of a job search to land something that you DO WANT?
Leverage your severance
Then, there’s whole severance situation.
I don’t know the details about the severance package with this particular scenario, but it’s usually income continuation for a fixed period of time and is discontinued once the candidate becomes employed.
It begs the question……
Why would you want to take a job you DON’T want because this would disqualify you from receiving income continuation, assuming there is more to come?
It might make more sense to use the money to “fund” a full-time job search in order to find the dream job so that you don’t have to settle for second best.
If you received a large, one lump sum this would be even more reason to take the required time to find something that you are genuinely happy with.
Finding a job is a full-time job
The problem with taking a new job that you DON’T want, poses a whole host of problems including the fact that you are now making yourself much less available for a position that you actually want.
Looking for a job is a full-time job unto itself, so how are you going to make time for that?
If you’re conducting a proper search, you will be engaged in many activities such as, but not limited to:
#1: Networking with people in your target field to uncover unadvertised positions
#2: Setting up and participating in informational meetings
#3: Creating a strong, targeted résumé, cover letter, and Linkedin profile for networking purposes
#4: Tweaking your career marketing documents for each position you apply to online
#6: Following up to correspondence, meetings, etc.
See what I mean? There’s a lot of work to do!
If you are currently employed full or part-time, it begs the question:
How are you going to interview when you just started a new job?
If I were the employer and my new employee suddenly asked to take personal time off after they just started, my first thought would be that they are probably looking for a new job which would be cause for dismissal.
Even if that’s not the case, and there’s some other “valid reason”, requesting time off when you’ve literally just started a new job might be enough to get you terminated, regardless of the reason.
Can you afford the risk of losing your newly acquired job?
If that’s a YES, then why not just quit and devote that time to a proper job search?
If that’s a NO, then you somehow have to figure out how you are going to interview while working.
You need to be available to interview
Ideally, you need to make yourself as available as possible to meet with employers because you’re competing with other candidates, many of whom can interview at the drop of a hat.
And yes, while you might be able to sneak in a phone/video interview in the company parking lot during your lunch break, at some point you will be required to meet with an actual human being during regular work hours, unless HR and the Hiring Manager are willing to be flexible which is never a guaranteed thing.
Now, you’re faced with having to lie to your new employer so that you can take some time off (which won’t go over well) from your new job (that you don’t want) to interview for the job you actually want (which you aren’t guaranteed you’ll get).
To make things more problematic, it won’t necessarily be just one interview – it could be multiple meetings with multiple people over multiple months because that’s what it might take to land your dream job.
Scheduling time off work is hard enough when you’ve been with the company a long time but if you just started, it’s even more difficult to the point of being virtually impossible.
As for the question about whether or not to add the new job to the résumé….
My gut tells me to NOT include the new job on your résumé.
I’ll explain why this is probably the best strategy and look at it from different angles, so bear with me.
Your employment status isn’t confirmed yet
When you start a new job, your employment status is contingent on you passing the probation period. There’s always a (slim) chance that it won’t work out.
If you put this brand-spanking new job on your résumé and then you quit or are terminated, you’ve now put yourself in a position of having to explain why it didn’t work out, because you’ve sent your résumé out to numerous hiring authorities.
Even if the job loss “wasn’t your fault” or you have “a good reason” why you resigned, those excuses look questionable from the perspective of the hiring company and they might just move on to the next candidate who – on paper at least – looks like less of a hiring risk.
What happens when you DON’T include the new job in the résumé?
I know, I know….there will be a “work gap”, but if it’s less than 12 months, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. In this case, it’s best to leave the new job off the résumé because it’s actually more problematic to include it on the résumé for reasons that I cover off in his article.
If your work gap is more than 12 months, I recommend you consult the services of a career professional to determine what your job search strategy should be as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
But here’s where it gets complicated
If you are invited to interviews and the times they have conflict with your work schedule, you will either have to decline OR disclose that you are actually employed and hope that the employer will be able to accommodate your schedule.
Disclosing would probably require an explanation about why you chose to exclude the job from your résumé which the employer is either going to accept or not. Some people won’t give it a thought while others will take issue with it – you just never know.
I would avoid fabricating some story about why your schedule is limited because at some point along the process, you are most likely going to be forced to spill the beans. It would be better to spill them sooner than later because doing it too late will look like you were being evasive.
Why adding the new job to the résumé can get tricky
You could be 100% transparent and just add the new job to your résumé but the reader will undoubtedly question why you are on the market so soon after starting a new job that is not labeled as temporary or a contract.
The concern will be that if you are hired for the position, history will repeat itself and you will start looking for a new job the minute you get hired.
HR, recruiters, and hiring managers believe that past behaviour is an indication of future behaviour. Why do you think they ask all kinds of behavioural interview questions?
Including this new job on your résumé might be cause for immediate disqualification from the process because you could be seen as a “flight risk”.
The employer isn’t necessarily going to contact you to find out what exactly your situation was because they’re too busy and have other candidates they can reach out to.
The hiring company is always looking for the “red flags”
Whoever reads your résumé will also wonder why you want to move into a different job function and/or industry (remember, the premise here is that you want to leave your current job is because it’s not your target field).
If you want to get back into something you did in the past, the employer will want to know why the current job isn’t working out and why you want to go back to what you were doing before.
This could be perceived as a lack of good decision making skills, and/or someone who can’t handle a new challenge, and/or someone who’s going “backwards” instead of forwards and therefore “not progressive”.
(Trust me, employers come up with all kinds of “stories” as to why the candidate isn’t going to work out which is often based entirely on just looking at their résumé!)
If the job is something that you have little to no experience in, you’re going to have to come up with a really great reason why you are interested and why you should be considered.
Keep in mind, all of the explanations you will have to come up with are based on the assumption that the employer gave you an opportunity to clarify some things. As I’ve already pointed out, you might just be immediately rejected based on including the new job on your résumé.
The only reasons you MIGHT want to add the new job to the résumé
I’ll play “devil’s advocate” for a second and consider the reasons you might want to add the new job on your résumé.
A: To show you are “hireable”
B: To reduce the gap between jobs
Frankly, I don’t think either are strong enough reasons, especially if you A – have a history of solid experience and career progression and B – have no serious gaps or job hopping.
Now, some “experts” say that employers prefer to hire people who are employed rather than unemployed which is why they would argue that you should include the new job on your résumé to be considered a “preferred” candidate.
This might be partly true, but it’s not the whole truth. Including this new job on your résumé can work against you, for reasons I’m covering off in this article.
The only reason an employer is going to care about this new job is why you would accept it only to want to leave for something else. Rightly or wrongly, they will question your motivation, your integrity, your values.
The fact is, you haven’t been with your new employer long enough to have made enough of an impression good or bad, so putting it on your résumé isn’t going to make you more “hireable”.
Which brings me back to why I think NOT including this new job on your résumé is the better strategy. And remember, at some point along the process, you are going to have to disclose that despite what your résumé indicates, you are employed.
How to explain why you took a job you want to leave……
Now, if the new job is something you took because you genuinely needed the money, that’s what we call a “survival job”.
This is something that you could divulge to the hiring company. Honestly is usually the best policy but you also have to be careful how “honest” you are going to be. Too much of a sob story can come off the wrong way and make you look like you’re a disaster waiting to happen.
You could explain to the hiring company that you would have preferred to remain unemployed to find the “perfect” job in your desired field BUT your personal situation didn’t afford you that luxury. You simply had to take something to pay your bills while continuing your job search, etc…..
You would have to somehow convince the hiring company that if they were to hire you for the job you say you want, that you would NOT be a flight risk because trust me – that’s the #1 concern they’re going to have.
Employers will do a lot of digging
Regardless of your “situation”, employers often have many assumptions, concerns, and rebuttals that you must be able to address confidently and convincingly. You must come across as being transparent and genuine.
But it’s a balancing act. There becomes a point when sharing too much information can work against you.
It could be misinterpreted. The employer might not like whatever tidbit you shared or the way that you communicated it. You must be selective as to what you share and how you express it.
Okay, I know I went off on a bit of a tangent with the original question, but it was a loaded one.
So, to make a very looooooong story short, it’s usually better to NOT include a very new job on your résumé when you are still actively seeking employment for the reasons I’ve pointed out.
However, there might be a good reason why you would include it, but that is best determined after speaking to a career professional to find out the pros and cons.
I highly recommend you retain the services of a career professional to help you position and sell yourself for a career transition. One wrong move can get you disqualified from the running. Feel free to contact me here.
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I draw from over 15 years recruitment, career/job search coaching, and sales/marketing experience to help all kinds of jobseekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired for their dream job.
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