How to Handle a Downsizing on Your Resume

I've been contacted several times over the last few months by good, honest, hard-working professional folks who were downsized from their job. Then downsized again. And, for good measure, maybe one more time. Now they have a resume that looks like they can't hold a job down for more than a year ... and it isn't a reflection of anything other than the not-so-hot economy of these last few years.

The question is always the same: "How do I explain on my resume that I'm not job hopping, and that I don't have any performance issues?" 

This can be tricky. It's paramount to be transparent about your job history and 100 percent honest about everything from dates to titles and responsibilities. But your resume is also the document where personal branding and smart positioning is paramount -- it could be the difference between getting the interview, or not.

Here are suggestions to consider for positioning downsizings on your resume:

List yourself as a short-term contractor. If you left on good terms, talk with your former employer and see if they would be comfortable with you adding some language to your position title as a contractor. Because contractors are often hired for a shorter amount of time for a specific project (then released when the project is complete), this makes the career move seem more strategic. Again, I stress the importance of discussing this with your former employer -- you do not want them to be caught off guard when called for a reference.

Create a consultancy. If you're out of work, immediately create a consultancy with you as the owner. You can list any pro-bono and volunteer work under this header to eliminate a layoff-related gap. Again, with permission, you could list short-term jobs under this header, too.

Address the Elephant. In some cases, you might consider very simply addressing the reason for the termination. For example, did you leave because the company was sold? You can say "left company after post-sale corporate reorganization."

Any good recruiter or human resources manager will do their research, which is why I stress not trying to be tricky on your resume. Most companies these days are more understanding about the gaps and/or quick job changes on resumes. Show them you are a valuable professional by creating a smart, strategic resume, including how you position every job experience -- no matter the time frame.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy, Great post. I am dealing with this very issue right now. It's been tough transitioning. Would you say that the term "contractor" is better than "temporary"? Also, as far as addressing the elephant, are you referring to adding this to the resume or job application? Thanks!