Should I list this job in my resume?
March 30, 2010 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I am a 13 year IT professional who was laid off from my job back in early 2008. After months of unsuccessful job hunting, I did the stay-at-home-dad thing for over a year before I landed a job as an office manager at a small store. (well cashier, but I also do light book-keeping, fix the computers, do the payroll, AP, AR, etc...) With the economy (hopefully) picking up, I want to update my resume and get aggressive about job hunting again, but am hesitant to put this job in my resume. Will this hurt or help? Your thoughts are appreciated!

As a background, this job is sort of "below" me and pays much less than what I used to make. (about a 1/4 of former salary) BTW, sorry about the "below" comment. Couldn't think of a better way to put it. I recognize that there is nothing wrong with doing whatever it takes and taking whatever job necessary to feed my family and retain some shred of dignity. Is listing this job (which I've been doing for 9 months now.) better than having a longer gap?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Couldn't you call the position "operations manager"?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:43 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would list it. There are thousands of laid-off professionals due to this recession, and not enough jobs for them. Any halfway sensible employer understands that, and I think your willingness to take an available job and do it well will either be a neutral or a positive statement to most companies. That seems better than a nine-month longer gap to me.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:49 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dunno you are already going to have a year gap for being a stay at home dad (so you can just use that as your reason for the time anyway). If you're going for an IT position I'm not sure this is going to help much.

That being said. It can't hurt.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:54 PM on March 30, 2010

You don't necessarily have to have a full year gap. But then, I only list years on my resume (you'd have 1993-2008 at IT job, 2009-present as "operations manager" or however you title it. And I agree, in this economy many folks have taken jobs that aren't their ideal career path. I'd vote for listing it.
posted by JenMarie at 3:58 PM on March 30, 2010

You are probably fine either way. I'm not sure that a gap of a couple of years in today's economy is going to express much more than you were a bit unlucky recently and are continuing to search for work. There are lot of people who have been actively searching for 18 months or more for replacement work after being laid off.

One possible downside is if it looks out of place to put it on a "related work" type resume for an IT job. On the other hand, if you can emphasize the related areas (like computers and management stuff), then it might show that you were industrious during a hard time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:06 PM on March 30, 2010

I think the whole story speaks to being the sort of mensch that any decent company that interests you would value. So, I vote for including it on your resume. Gussy it up a bit, playing up the responsibility you had, if that makes you feel better.

You can list the stay-at-home dad dates as "Feb 08 to present", then overlay the months working for the store. If you're the sort to get chatty on your resume, you can provide a very brief (one sentence, maximum) explanation for taking the job. If it's not on your resume, you can always explain it (again, briefly) in your cover letter or the interview itself. As others have noted, needing to take *any* job in order to pay the bills is not unusual these days.
posted by DrGail at 4:08 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would definitely include it. I assume you are noting that in your last IT position you were laid off or the position was eliminated. I have received and reviewed many resumes in my life and a full and accurate accounting for time was certainly a positive in my book. I would feel free to use "years" of employment rather than specific dates. I am assuming you are not listing salaries and certainly can use your salary as an IT professional when asked about your salary and salary expectations. I do believe most employers would take your willingness to work at a lesser position as a positive. I would describe your present position in professionally neutral and accurate terms. Do not dress it up inappropriately. Finally,there is nothing wrong with indicating a period of unemployment which explains your taking a lesser position.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:19 PM on March 30, 2010

Knowing you had that kind of adaptability would be a plus in my book, though I've never done IT hiring. The kind of expanding responsibilities you'd have there would signal things like "able to deal with people," "can keep a complex operation running smoothly," "looks around for what else could be done better," and so forth. Unless your existing resume includes plenty of billing, bookkeeping, and managing people, I'd include it.
posted by salvia at 4:28 PM on March 30, 2010

Anyone who would see that as a liability is probably not someone you want to work for.
posted by gjc at 5:42 PM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

What salvia said, plus it indicates you're not a total prima donna about how some job is below you or whatever. Best job recommendation I ever got included a story about how I unstopped a toilet.
posted by Etrigan at 6:11 PM on March 30, 2010

It's not like the recession is a secret. Tons of people these days have taken jobs that they were overqualified for because they had to. Employers will understand and I'd view it as a positive, as others have said.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:43 PM on March 30, 2010

As a hiring manager, I vote for including it. People go through all sorts of circumstances for economic and personal reasons, and sharing your commitment to take a job less than ideal and do a good job with it would be a big positive. Do be sure to show how you have stayed current with trends in IT.
posted by mozhet at 7:20 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

List it! But if they ask for "salary at your last job" on the application, put down the salary at your last IT job.
posted by miyabo at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2010

As an IT professional who is not in HR, I really only care about your technical knowledge and problem solving skills. Anything else is a distraction. Unless you can cast the ofcie management/cashiering/jack-of-all-trading as some sort of management role, or unless you're interviewing for a project where those skills might give insight (e.g., designing a POS interface used by cashiers), it's not relevant and only serves to raise questions.

And frankly, tech is a fast-moving sector -- if you've been out of the game for two years, I'd like to see that you were freelancing, or contributing to OSS (if you're on the programming side), or even admin-ing your own site, or something. Again, outside of a project designing a POS system, "cashier" just reminds me that the skills I'm hoping you'll bring to the table have been atrophying for two years.

Again, HR probably has a different take, as they have different priorities. But on your professional resume, I'm only interested in your work -- paid or volunteer -- in the profession.
posted by orthogonality at 8:19 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Like what's been said, it's not the irrelevant work you were doing to put food on the table, it's the stuff you were doing during your off hours. And if you weren't staying updated, then start today.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 8:35 PM on March 30, 2010

List it! But do not follow the advice about lying that's showing up in this thread -- do not inflate your position title, do not give your last IT job salary if asked for your salary at your last job. I will ask questions if I suspect this, I will verify it, and your resume will be binned. I will also likely let folks in my network know that I found discrepancies on your resume.

Your position title is your position title. Your last salary is your last salary. Both of those are completely independent of your salary requirement. And know the number that is your salary requirement.

Most importantly, be able to talk about this job. Has it helped you understand how other lines of business work? That's a valuable skill in IT, because you're supporting those other lines of business! This position also tells me that you aren't a diva and are willing to take on unpleasant tasks in order to achieve goals. What else have you taken away from this stint?

It's not a waste of time or a career derail unless _you_ make it out to be one.
posted by bfranklin at 5:09 AM on March 31, 2010

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