Here’s how to downplay a short tenure on a medical resume

Lifetime employees are a thing of the past, but multiple short-tenured jobs aren’t exactly what this health-care executive wanted to lead with.


The days of 30-year tenures are gone. But the connotation of a “job hopper” lives on. Though employers are becoming more lenient with short tenures due to the recession, job seekers are still worried about making a faulty first impression.

Such was the case of Phillip Woellner, a senior-level health-care executive with experience in psychiatric and hospital management. Woellner was laid off from his job with Diamond Healthcare in the Richmond, Virginia and needed to to play down any gaps on his resume.

“I was explicit about getting beyond some of the dates that were on my resume,” said Woellner. “I was not a job hopper at all, but had some unfortunate timing with some of the companies I had worked for: one that went under completely only after a few months of being there.”

The appearance of changing jobs frequently is a known turn off for recruiters and hiring managers, so Tina Brasher, a certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders, was keen on attending to the needs of her client by putting Woellner’s strengths at the very top section of the document, in his profile. Near the very top of his resume his experience as a VP, director and supervisor responsible for a 30 percent improvement in an inpatient program became highlighted.

“On his former resume, his profile was a tad too old fashioned. It had an objective statement, which is outdated, and was full of generalities like ‘accomplished director of operations,'” said Brasher. “He needed his profile boosted with quantified results and a layout that allowed for the tucking in of dates — so as to not draw more attention than necessary to some of the shorter term jobs he had.”

“What are companies looking for from potential employees these days?” said Brasher. “People who can reduce costs and save them money. If you aren’t putting things in terms that display cost cutting, you need to rethink your whole resume.”

Brasher said she bolstered the document by showing off his experience with high-volume hospitals that made turnarounds, of working in start-up environments, and being able to wear many hats while hitting milestones and getting results. These are all key traits employers would be looking for in management-level positions in health care.

Create a section without dates for jobs held years ago

Brasher also allowed the resume to go back about eight years, and then created a special section on Page 2 of the resume called “Prior Positions.” There are no dates in this section, which certainly opens itself up for conversation in an interview.

“By leveraging what has already been read on Page One of the resume, the dates become less significant,” said Brasher.

The emphasis on these kinds of skills seems to be working. Within a few weeks upon receiving the new resume, Woellner has several interviews lined up. While Woellner realizes that it’s going to take some time to land a final offer, and could mean relocation to another state, he’s confident he’ll make a good first impression.