How to Explain Short Stints on Your Resume

By Published On: February 10, 2020

In today’s job market, it’s extremely common for individuals, even executives, to have short stints on their resumes, and the reason as to why can be endless. 
However, there can still be a stigma among recruiters and employers about the nature of a short stint. The fears of looking like a job-hopping flight risk, someone that can’t hold down a job, or a bad performer, are real. 
The last thing you want during a job search is to be eliminated from contention due to a short stint, especially an explainable one. 
So what do you do??
There’s always the burning question of “should I leave a short job off my resume entirely?”. 
While there is no “right” answer for this, it’s not uncommon to have a gap of 90 days or less on a resume, as employers can assume you were in transition. If the job was 90 days or less, you could consider leaving it off. 
If you do leave a short stint on your resume, we’re going to dig into some key tips to remember on how to best address it on your resume and in-person: 

Honesty is the Best Policy

As stated before, you don’t need to disclose every single job you’ve ever had on a resume, but as you move further into an interview process, it’s important to be honest with a potential employer about your entire job history (not saying they need to know about your paperboy route when you were 12).
With the unemployment rate the lowest it’s been in 50 years, a candidate-driven market is in your favor. However, employers value integrity in providing a full, applicable work history. Attempting to push under the rug or sugarcoat a job won’t work out for you in the long run, as background check companies would likely catch any hidden jobs through employment verifications. 
Companies are typically willing to move past short job stints as long as what really matters is there: applicable supply chain skills, strong work ethic, a track record of achievements aka delivering value, the right attitude, and motivation. 

Share Your Reasoning 

While you may not have the space to go into detail on your resume about “why” you left a short stint, it’s still important to briefly mention the reason for transition. This is something you can go into more detail in an interview. 
Add a line under that role on what led to you leaving (i.e. company restructuring, maternity/paternity leave, relocation, caring for an elderly or ill parent, etc.) Again, remember to keep this positive and professional. 

Emphasize the Positive & What You Learned 

Regardless of how short the job was, the odds are you likely obtained some new skills or knowledge that is beneficial throughout the rest of your supply chain career. Be sure to address this on your resume as well. 
Employers like to see that you were able to make the most out of a short stint. Even if it’s something as small as “learned how to work through a negative, abusive boss situation”, it’s important to highlight what you gained over the time you were there. 

Don’t Over-Explain Yourself 

When you are asked about a short job stint, it’s important to display confidence and professionalism and keep your explanation short and concise. If you ramble, don’t make eye contact, or come across as negative or defensive, this may lead the interviewer to believe you’re not being completely honest. Rehearse or role play with a friend or colleague if you don’t feel 100% confident in explaining gaps or short stints on your resume. While addressing it on your resume, in an interview or communication with an employer, always wait for them to bring it up first. 

A resume isn’t meant to be a tell-all, but rather a roadmap of your accomplishments and skills as they relate to the potential employer. 
Remember, even a short stint likely revealed something about your personal career goals and preferences. Perhaps it showed you you are more passionate about working in a larger organization than a small, or that the Food and Beverage industry is more for you than Consumer Goods. Even if it’s something as simple as discovering what type of management style you prefer, every job shapes your future choices.
If you weren’t in a role for long and you didn’t make a major impact or have a take away from the role, it may not be worth noting on your resume.
For more advice on making your resume as flawless as it can be, be sure to check out our proven resume tips for supply chain professionals!