Is it wrong to leave out some of my employment history on a resume?


I often struggle with discerning what might be God's conviction over sin and what might be me worrying excessively. Recently, I filled out a job application that asked for a separate sheet for additional employment that was "relevant to the position" I was applying for. I held many, many jobs during college, some for just a very short period of time, and I typically leave them off my applications and resume because I don't remember the details and I think it looks bad.

I decided to leave out the bulk of those jobs on this application because it reflects poorly on me (as if I skip from job to job). I also felt assured because the application asked for a job history that was "relevant" to the job being applied for. About to mail the application and resume, I began to obsess about whether I was lying on it for leaving out some short-term employment. I wasn't trying to be deceitful, I just felt it looked bad and wasn't relevant, so I mailed it anyway. Afterward, I wondered if I should go retrieve it back from the Post Office. I don't want to be a liar, but I don't want to list 17 different jobs on my application either. I know it's my fault for changing jobs too often when I was a younger man.

Am I being scrupulous, or not? This seems to be a common thing for me, and I don't know if it's just because I'm afraid of messing up, or if it's genuine sin. Thank you.


Let me answer your question from two different viewpoints since years ago I once was a manager and read through a lot of resumes when needing to hire someone. As a manager there were a few things that I looked for in a resume:

  1. Were there long gaps between jobs? Long gaps told me that either the person wasn't strongly self-motivated, too selective about what he was willing to do, or trying to hide something. None of those qualities would indicate an ideal employee.
  2. Were there a lot of jobs? Not staying with a job told me the person either was too sensitive and would leave when things got even remotely hard or had some character flaw that caused a lot of people to ask him to leave.
  3. Did he work in the industry I was hiring him to work? After all, experience at McDonald's can tell me about a person's work ethic, but it doesn't tell me about his ability to work in my industry.

Few people have the perfect work history. If I see a lot of short term employments followed by a few long term ones, then I know the person grew into becoming a steady employee. If I see a gap that corresponds with being in college, then I know the person wanted to focus on his education but might not be good at juggling multiple things at once. What I want you to see is that people can get more from a resume than just what is stated.

So when there are large gaps in an employment record, put in a note saying why. Not as an excuse but to not leave the wrong impression. If you went through a period of life where you bounce around way too much and it wasn't in your field, then put down the year range and state that numerous small jobs were held and perhaps the type of industry you bounced around in. Mentioning that this was when you were in college will also help. Don't worry about how it looks if your recent jobs were held for a longer time and were in your field. But by stating a broad summary you don't leave odd gaps that make it appear that you didn't work at all. Most people understand that it is hard to find good steady employment near a college.

Now, back to your question. The people stated that they were only interested in the jobs you held which were relevant to the position they are hiring for. I take that to mean that they really aren't interested in your work history as a whole, only whether you have experience in their field. You gave them what they asked for, so you didn't lie in the application. And if it comes up in the interview, just say that you held a number of odd jobs while in college, but since it wasn't in the field, you didn't want to distract with irrelevant information. Then offer to give a list of those jobs if they are interested. It probably won't be mentioned and they definitely won't ask for a list of the jobs, unless you are applying for a job that involves a government clearance -- then they want to know every minute detail.

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