Dear Matt: I spent 15 years in the same career, but left for a new role with a start-up in a different industry. After six months I realized that the job and the industry were not a good fit. Should I include this job on my résumé? If so, how do I explain the short stint when applying for the next job or when interviewing for jobs in the industry where I previously worked?
Matt says: There’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on a new career and in a new industry. No employer will hold that against you, which is why you should include that job on your résumé.
“If a job seeker omits it, they run the risk of the prospective employer or recruiter discovering it and the job seeker then having to defend the omission,” says St. Paul career coach Karen Kodzik (cultivatingcareers.com).
Twin Cities HR consultant Arlene Vernon (arlenevernon.com) agrees.
“The information about the other job can easily come out in a casual conversation by you, someone else or a mutual acquaintance who doesn’t know you omitted it from your résumé,” says Vernon. “Then it looks like you’ve falsified your résumé and gave incomplete information that could jeopardize your job or your relationship with your team.”
When writing your cover letter, explain that you were interested in pursuing a new industry and the challenges of being in a leadership role with a start-up, but that you realized that your personality, experience and talents are better suited to your previous profession. During the interview, don’t focus on all the things that weren’t a good fit. Instead, focus on what you learned in those six months and how you can apply those lessons when you gt back into your previous industry.
“After 15 years in a profession, it’s common to feel a little burnt out or itchy to try something new,” says Vernon. “Now that that experience wasn’t all it appeared to be, it’s fine to share the experience with the interviewer.”
An employer may wonder if you are truly dedicated to success back in your old profession. Be prepared to discuss this, and focus on how the lessons learned from the start-up stint helped reignite the fire to succeed in the industry where you worked for the previous 15 years.
Also remember that a six-month stint at a start-up is a talking point, but it doesn’t define your career and the résumé of successes you’ve built over the past 15 years. Be candid and transparent about what happened at the start-up, but after that, highlight the impact you’ve made throughout your career in your previous profession. Get them to see past the last job and focus on the overall skill set and experiences you bring to the new job.
Do that, and you will be back into your comfort zone and back working in your previous industry in no time.
Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.