Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leaving Things Off Your Resume

I was in my last job for about 16 months. This was a small, private office (physician's office), not a large company. From the very beginning it was a "toxic" work environment. The girls in the back office were always trying to run things in the front. They told the doctor what to do and she did it.

After about two months a new receptionist was hired whom the girls in the back did not like. They were constantly gossiping about her, omitting things to try to show she was doing a bad job, etc. They would try to get me to tell them things she either was or was not doing. They lied about her and kept putting me in the middle. Eventually she left.

Then, they started doing the same things to the office manager who had only been there a short time. Again trying to force me to tell the doctor what things she was doing wrong. The last time I refused to tell the doctor anything, which only made the girls in the back angry at me. They realized I would not help them so they then turned on me.

One of the girls even physically assaulted our new receptionist, lied to the doctor when the girl told her, and got away with it! I then spoke to the doctor who would not do anything about it, stating that the girl that assualted the other one "has a lot of problems. I am glad she is causing problems up front and not back here anymore." I couldnt belive this!

I then put in my resignation and gave the doctor six weeks notice. When this one girl found out I was leaving she started trying to "befriend" me, wanting me to talk to the doctor about her getting my job. I did not do this and again was put on her "hit list." I finally could not take anymore when one day she came to my desk and threatened me. I called the office manager back to talk to her about it and she said there was nothing she could do---so I walked out.

The problem now is I dont know if I should put this job on my resume. I had three interviews in my field of work, and each time did not get the job. I was told this employer gave me a bad reference. I don't see how she could when my performance evaluations were all very good and she kept giving me raises. But I have no proof of any of this.

I now have an interview for a good job and I didn't put my last job on the resume. What if they find out I worked there? What should I do?

by Beth Brown, Professional Resume Writer on Susan Ireland's Resume Team

It can be difficult to decide when to include something on your resume that was unpleasant, irrelevant, or, in your case, “toxic,” and when to exclude it. Here are some things to consider:

1. You need to account for your time on your resume. In other words, employers don’t like to see “gaps” on your resume. If you worked at your most recent job from 2005-07, and decided to exclude it because of what happened there, you will need to think about the effect of that on the reader. If you also had another job, or did volunteer work, or pursued studies at a school or institution, you could substitute that for the job you left. Otherwise, you should include it.

2. If you do include this job, focus on describing your achievements and positive performance evaluations. DO NOT list this employer as a reference, or provide their contact information to another prospective employer!

3. You should have a page of references (2 professional and 2 personal references would be best) that lists other people for a new employer to contact.

4. You will need to think of a quick and simple response to the “why did you leave your last position?” question. Try to stay positive and also clear, such as “I decided to explore working in a different environment (or field) to further my career growth.” If you feel comfortable with the interviewer, you might go into more detail, but you don’t need to. DO NOT bring your negative feelings about the previous job with you to an interview! Remember that you are starting fresh, and stay positive.

5. You might use a functional format for your resume, as a way to focus more on your skills than on the most recent job. In the functional format, you list your positions, dates, etc. at the bottom, and the body of the resume has accomplishments listed under skill headings such as Administrative Management, Marketing & Business Development, Client Relations, etc. This way, the reader sees what you have done first and what skills you have used, rather than looking at where you worked. This format does not work well in the technology industry, but can be very successful in other areas. Browse through Susan Ireland's examples of functional resumes or check out her book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume.

Good luck!

Beth Brown has been a resume writer on Susan Ireland’s team for over 10 years, and has worked with more than 1000 clients from all over the world and all walks of life.


Anonymous said...

I have been working as a social worker for a county agency for 11 months. When the job became so toxic (bullying from my immediate supervisor) I could not deal and began to have anxiety attacks and fell into a deep depression my doctor took me off work and later extended it. When my doctors excuse was extended the agency said if I did not come back to work I would be medically terminated. Of course I followed doctors instructions and was medically terminated. Prior to this job I worked as a social worker for about a year and a half in the field and 2years as a intern in the field. When I am ready to look for work again should I omit my time with the agency? I am fearful they will give me a bad reference and on top of this I was "terminated''.

Susan Ireland said...

As I see it, you have two options. Either leave the agency work off your resume and use an unpaid experience to fill that gap, or list the agency and find someone from the agency who will give you a good reference, despite the fact that you were terminated.

I hope the second option will work for you. If you have a recommendation, I think that will counter your medical termination. Remember, medical termination is not as bad a flat out termination.