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Hi all,

I'm currently updating my resume and have hit a bit of a quandary on how to list my most recent job.  I'm hoping that someone on this forum might suggest a succinct, valid qualifier for the title of the position I held most recently.  Allow me to explain...

I'm an IT professional with experience in project management, software design, website development,  database administration, that kind of thing.  I'd like my resume to focus on these past experiences.  However, my most recent position was something quite different as I held the post of "Manager of Teaching Affairs Department" (the company being an education institution).  I held this post for about 6 months but with the understanding between myself and the CEO that I was acting only as an "interim manager" until a new manager could be successfully found and introduced into the position (the timing of said introduction being a bit of a nuisance factor, and my having been with the company sufficiently long enough to be able to handle the post at least reasonably well). 

I learned a lot in that position and it afforded me good experience in managing a department of staff.  However, the work was not at all in an IT related area and now, having left the company and seeking work back in the IT industry, I fear that listing it on my resume will detract from my other work experience - particularly as it would have to be the first line of work experience on my resume.  Additionaly, since I held the position for such a short time, I worry that it might send the wrong signal (unreliable, flighty, etc).  Yet I can hardly leave it out as that would leave a 6 month chunk of my career unexplained.

At the moment, I've listed it as "Manager of Teaching Affairs Department <em>(Interim)</em>". But this seems inappropriate, at best unclear.  My aim is not to fib or fabricate, merely to remove the focus off that first line of work experience and onto the more meaty stuff (for my desired kind of work) that appears further down on my resume. 

Can anyone suggest an alternative, more official designator to help smooth over this blip?  Or should I not worry so much and simply leave it to stand for itself with whatever queries -- possibly rejections-out-of-hand -- that this may bring?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this!

ashdenver's picture

If I may ask, what are the next three job titles on your resume?

I would think that you could simply shorten the most recent title to simply "Manager" or "Interim Manager" with a brief description (a la MT Style) stipulating "at request of CEO" or something similar. 

The other thing that comes to mind is that you said you'd been with the company a long period of time.  It may be unethical to some but if it were my resume, I'd have little hesitation over omitting the title entirely, focusing exclusively on the IT-related duties and accomplishments which comprised the bulk of your tenure with the organization.  After all, as my VP says: "It does matter what the group does, a good manager can manage anyone."  The generic management itself could relate to your IT-dreams if you happen upon an IT Manager role. 

Also, out of curisoity, did you have this manager gig concurrent with your other IT duties?  If it was concurrent, leave it off entirely and share only the management piece if/when you are asked about your leadership skills, flexibility and whatnot.

(That happened to me once. I was Director of HR and then the Marketing Director quit on the spot weeks before our national convention and I took over the Marketing Department in addition to my own gig.  I don't even mention the marketing component on my resume, though there are times when I've shared the anecdote - it's really a great story of "riding to the rescue" and my fierce determination to launch a great event for 10,000 people! LOL)

Mark's picture

Use the given title.  Neither shorten the title nor lengthen it with "interim".

At the end of the first responsibility sentence, include "on an interim basis at the direction of the CEO to stabilize a struggling team based on my management skills", or something to that effect (and with a nod to the grammatical difficulty).

If you leave this off completely, as Ash suggests, you're guilty of lying. Do this, and be discovered, and you're poisoning a well that many people you don't know drink from.  DON'T.  This is the kind of flexibility with the truth that causes so many GOOD resumes to be treated with such disdain. [Sad to think that what is unethical to some causes little hesitation to others.]

Mark

ashdenver's picture

Henry David Thoreau: "Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something." Letter, March 27, 1848

Albert Einstein: "I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it."

Marie Ebner von Eschenbach:  "Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right."

Call me crazy but I'd rather be thought unethical by omitting something than be homeless and unemployed. 

US41's picture

 If you are hired, and your employers find you unethical for having omitted something later, you will be homeless and unemployed. 

freingold's picture

Ashdenver,

Wow, I missed the part where "homeless and unemployed" was at stake here. You present somewhat of a false dilemma.

Although I enjoyed the quotes, I agree with Mark.  If I catch someone being untruthful on their resume, the conversation is over.  Since when is lack of honesty justified based on a vague sense that it might be looked at unfavorably.  From what I can tell, most IT folks could use a little experience outside their specialty.  In my experience, they stand improved as a result.  The whole idea of a job outside of IT for a period of time being a negative seems silly to me.

FR

ashdenver's picture

Apparently I'm a horrible person.  Thanks for clarifying, everyone.  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Mark's picture

Aww, c'mon Ash.  Sure, we were direct with our disagreements of your suggested behavior.  But that's not the same as the characterization you have inferred.

We like AND respect you enough to disagree, and do so strongly when it's (rarely) warranted.

Mark

ashdenver's picture

I've always seen a resume as "a marketing tool" with the purpose of landing one an interview rather complete recitation of one's past under penalty of perjury. 

If the market is such that competition is fierce (as it is currently) and prospective employers are looking for "the most bang for their buck" (which they are) why would they be inclined to toss into the "Yes, let's talk" pile a resume of someone who hasn't done the work currently available for the last six months?  I'd use my resume (a non-binding, non-legal document) to get my foot in the door. 

I would not - and indeed, have not - advocate lying on an application.  If I put correct & true dates of employment with a single employer spanning several years on an application but cite only the most recent job title, am I then guilty of dishonesty by not using a separate employment box for each of the four jobs I've had with the employer during the last five years?  I don't think so and I know of no employer who would see it that way.  (example: Peon, Senior Peon, Lead Peon, Manager -- and I put "Manager" as my title on the application)  How is it any different to select which particular job title is pertinent to the job for which you are applying?  How is it any different than having umpteen different versions of one resume for very specific types of jobs being pursued?  What if I had selected "Lead Peon" on the application for a job that doesn't pertain to managing?  It's still true that I had the job at that employer and the dates of employment are still correct and nothing about the duties I list on the application are false. 

Ya'll have said a hundred times that the resume needs to be one page.  Why? To gain an interview.  By leaving off all the stuff that was on my two-page version, how is that not lying as well?  I still did all those things but now they're not on my one-page MT-formatted resume.  Somehow it's okay to pick and choose so long as a select group of people approves but when I suggest the same thing, it's outright dishonesty and reprehensible.

I can't say I'm a real fan of the double standard I'm seeing here.  I use a one-page resume and I've left of what ya'll might consider "significant details" off the resume with absolutely no ill effects.  Either I'm qualified to do the job at hand or I'm not.  What shows up on a piece of paper in the mail (or via inbox) isn't the end-all/be-all of who I am, nor does it define me one way or the other. 

LittleJus, ultimately you will do what feels right and best for you in your particular situation.  People have shared their opinions and theoretical ideals with you on this topic and I've shared my perspective as well as my own hands-on experience with this type of situation.  It's up to you decide your own ethics rather than follow blindly and do as you're told - by me or anyone else.  Best wishes and good luck, no matter what path you choose!

asteriskrntt1's picture

Now it seems we are being introduced to apologybuts....

Sad to think that what is felt as incredibly rude and hurtful to some is so easily tossed out as simply being direct by others.  Gosh, I guess you can just hide behind that label of being a High D and forget about the "Do you need to apologize?" cast.

US41's picture

If you put dates and one title, the hiring manager may assume you had that title all along. What if they find out later that you did not? They could retaliate or decide to not hire you. You are creating a false impression by claiming a job title for a period of time and therefore a measure of experience you do not have.

If your resume is "tailored" per the MT advice, then you have changed around which accomplishment bullets you put under each job depending on whether you are trying to show leadership or some technical ability, etc. This is entirely different. You are choosing which slices of the pie to serve based on the needs of the audience.

The difference is between choosing what to show and creating a false impression.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

If it was essentially the same role, just developing from junior to senior or changes of job title with little substantive change to duties, then I can see an arguement for just one entry.  I would expect to see some recognition that there had been changes over time but that duties remained the same.  One of the characteristics of the UK public sector is that job titles change on a regular basis with no real change of duties.  There's even a joke that regularly circualtes on the internet, "You know you work in the opublic sector when..." and one of the examples is something along the lines of "In the past 2 years you've done the same job, sitting at the same desk for the same people but have had 4 different job titles."   I had 5 job titles in 4 years with no change of duties, if I had a separate section for each that would half fill my one page resume!

From the example Ash gives I think something like:

Peon Manager, ..., XXX 2007 to present

...

 

Peon (Junior to Lead), ..., XXX 2002 to XXX 2007

...

 

This does assume that there was little substantive change in duties from Junior to Lead Peon but there was a change going from Lead Peon to Peon Manager.

 

Stephen

 

 

 

 

ashdenver's picture

This is a sample, generic application.  As you can see, it says (as most do) that the applicant should list "the past four employers" not the past four positions.  That's a key difference.  In my case, if I followed what seems to be suggested here, I'd fill each box with a separate entry for the same employer:

  1. Manager, Acme Corp
  2. Lead Peon, Acme Corp
  3. Senior Peon, Acme Corp
  4. Peon, Acme Corp

Now, what kind of idiot would I look like for completing the application that way?  Acme Corp is ONE employer.  Period.  There's no grey area in that regard.  It's not subject to interpretation. 

The background screener / checker will make ONE call to Acme Corp to verify dates of employment, not four, not two.  The screener will call the references provided which may not even work at Acme Corp.  The screener will check credit, convictions, education, certifications, licenses and whatever else they include in background checks these days. The employment application is intended to hold truthful information, not a complete recitation of one's movements.  Otherwise, the application would be twenty pages long! 

In fairness, on the application itself, I have no problem with telling the unvarnished truth or being as specific as possible (space permitting) and I would definitely fill it out as honestly as possible. 

Title: Lead Peon (plus other roles)  ... or ... Position: multiple during employment ... or ... Starting Position: Peon // Ending Postion: Manager

The resume is an entirely different ballgame.  It's NOT a legal document; it's a marketing tool.  Once I get my foot in the door, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to be talking about how "I started out as a Peon but got several promotions, ultimately leading up to Manager, in a short period of time."  

You can bet your bippy that I'm going to whip out the example of "I was asked by by the President to take over the Marketing Department a few weeks before our National Sales Convention for 10,000 attendees was slated to happen" as an example of teamwork, collaboration, thinking on my feet, you name it.  It's not listed anywhere on my resume.  Why?  Because it's one of those STAR / SOAR / SODAR things that the behavioural interviewers are looking for. 

When I get to the interview, I can unleash everything I've got to position myself as the leading contender.  Until then, I need to do what I can to minimize the chances the screener (or HR generalist) will toss my resume into the "Thanks, but no thanks" pile.  The interview and the employment application are Time For Truth Telling.  The resume is a marketing tool.

The cable company doesn't tell you that they've gotten the #1 survey score in the country for the accuracy of their accounts payable!  Why? They know that's not why you - the consumer - select them, spend money on them , do business with them.  They wrap it all up nicely & neatly in a slick looking package and tell you that they are "an award-winning company."  Marketing.

Marketing presents the product (the applicant) in the best possible light to begin discussions and negotiations.  Truthfulness and candid sharing are most likely to garner the best possible long-term relationship as a result and without a doubt, lying is bad form, bad taste and completely unacceptable.  Marketing, however, is the courtship part of the process - before the vows, before dating.  It's marketing.

Employment Ad: "Ideal candidate for this entry-level position will have six years experience."

Tell me that marketing isn't the key to getting your foot in the door!   LOL

Again - to each their own and all of us get to decide what's right or best for each of us as individuals.  MT says to use your one-page resume to list each job title individually for the sake of transparent honesty, even if that means leaving off more relevant experiences and job titles due to the sake of space. I say use the MT guidelines as guidelines and use the one chance you have to make a first impression a powerful, impactful, relevant first impression.  *shrug*  I don't think there can be a unilateral "one size fits all / it's our way or the highway" approach.  It'd be great if there could be or was but that's a lofty ideal in a seriously flawed and fiercely competitive marketplace.

Mark's picture

Manager Tools stands firmly by its recommendations for ethical behavior.

I believe that this thread has served its initial purpose. Littlejus's question has been addressed.  

While we generally believe that tangents can be helpful and organic outgrowths can be valuable, I do not feel that is the case here. 

The tone of some of the comments have contributed to this closure.