Questions from Redditors Part 1: Executive Drafts owner Jeremy Shreve answers some of Reddit’s resume FAQs
Here at Executive Drafts, we love engaging directly with people and providing high-value, completely free advice. We are frequent contributors on Reddit, where we have helped countless individuals with feedback on their resumes and offered general career advice across a wide range of Reddit communities. For those of you not familiar with Reddit, it’s a place where people gather to share social news, discuss topics grouped by Subreddits, and vote on shared content. We’re most active on the r/resumes Subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/resumes), where we offer public critiques and advice on user submissions.
Jeremy Shreve, the owner of Executive Drafts (username u/ExecutiveDrafts), has been an active participant of Reddit for many years and started Executive Drafts after his success in coaching people on career and resume best practices both on Reddit and in the real world. That being said, we’ve been around the block a time or two, and have seen the same questions circulating Reddit over the years. In this three-part series, Jeremy will be answering some of the burning questions we see time and time again across the internet.
Part 1 of the series will focus on the “Experience” section of the resume. In other words, how to talk about job titles, overlapping/concurrent positions, and non-traditional career entries on a resume.
Q. I’m working two jobs at the same time. Should I include them both on my resume?
A. You get a little creative freedom on a resume when you have multiple jobs, and it’s a good idea to use that freedom to decide how to tell the narrative of your career in the best light. If recruiters see two jobs that overlap significantly, they’re most likely going to think “ok, which of these jobs was the ‘real’ one, and which was just some part-time consulting gig or small business?”
We work with many clients who started businesses on the side, and sometimes those businesses are useful to the story, but other times, they serve as a distraction. It’s important to ask yourself if listing that LLC you created is drawing away from the importance of your primary role, or if the second job adds enough that it’s worth the complexity. I think too many people simply list both jobs without a second thought to how each might be perceived by recruiters.
Q. How do I list a job for x company if it’s through a staffing agency?
A. As long as we’re being transparent and acting in everyone’s best interests, we have some flexibility here. Google is notorious for hiring contract agencies to help with their work, and people want credit for working at Google even if they aren’t Google-badged, so there are many legitimate situations where this distinction is important.
You’ve got a couple of options. I think the most “on the level” practice would be to list the company you worked for (the one signing your paychecks), then list the “client” company in either your job title (Software Developer – Google) or list it in the very first bullet of your experience. While this might rob it of top billing and the attention you get from that, there should be some distinction between people who actually work for that company directly and people who are contracted or staffed out. Another approach is to list the company name as “Google (via XXXX Staffing Agency),” which is clunkier, but it gets people seeing the Google name earlier in the entry.
All of this is only really a concern if the client company is very well known and you’re hoping to get some credit for that name. If you were contracted by Random Staffing Company to work at Random IT Company, this isn’t nearly as much of an issue. Listing the actual employer is all you need to do in cases like that.
Q. Is it ok to change a job title on my resume if I don’t feel like it reflects what I did?
A. This is another one for “creative liberties with resumes.” I tell clients that I’m happy to change a title as long as we’re changing it for clarity and staying lateral. In other words, no bumping yourself up to “Senior Developer” as a programmer or “Manager” if you were simply a lead. However, many large organizations have vague titles that don’t adequately reflect what you do (Program Manager IV, Marketing Advisor II, etc.).
Just as often, you have small businesses where people don’t give close thought to titles, and the VP of Marketing might just as often take out the trash at the end of the night and oversee employee training! You should list the title that paints the clearest picture of what you did for that organization, and you should give a little thought to whether or not the company you work for would have a problem hearing you associated with that title. I know this is a tricky area, but you want to get credit for the work you did without creating issues with your former employer or being accused of dishonesty.
Q. When is it appropriate to leave a job entry off my resume?
A. Who approved these questions? Is my staff trying to get me in trouble here?! It’s a great question, and many people will find themselves confronted with these dark corners and grey areas of resume writing. The easy answer is that resumes should be presented as factual documents that outline your experience and credentials, which means you should list every job and skill that are actually relevant for the position you want. That means if you held a job that was not necessarily relevant (Maybe you worked at a local hardware store to make ends meet for a few months), you don’t need to list it on a resume. You should be prepared to address any employment gaps, so even if you’re leaving a position off the page for what feels like legitimate reasons, you may need to explain the time lapse.
Some people will omit jobs where they only stayed a few weeks or months, or where they were terminated shortly after beginning employment. While I understand the tendency, it’s important to note that THIS is exactly why people are so skeptical of employment gaps. Recruiters are usually worried you’re leaving off something that might help them make a better decision about hiring you. And as many conversations as we’ve had with recruiters, there is no clear consensus on how an applicant should handle situations like that. Recruiters would prefer to see everything and make decisions for themselves, but when asked what they would do if they were in the same situation, the answers were not as clear.
In addition to being active Reddit contributors, at Executive Drafts, we’re career and resume strategists dedicated to helping you land your next job. If you’re interested in learning more about our services you can visit us on our website. While you’re there, you can submit your resume for a complimentary critique.
Interested in reading more in this series? In part 2, we discuss the basic elements of a resume, including introduction, skills, project sections as well as touch on best practices with respect to your college GPA, references, and whether your resume should be one page or two pages in length.
Part 3 is devoted to one question, and one question only: how to transition from one career to another without relevant experience. This is perhaps the most frequently asked question on Reddit and one of the most challenging aspects of resume writing, which is why we’ve saved the best (and perhaps the most complicated) for last.