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This is a monthly feature giving you the opportunity to raise questions concerning the job search process and strategies that can be employed to meet your specific goals. Feel free to submit questions to The question and answer will be posted (anonymously), and forwarded to you in private email, as well. With your permission, I would like to provide updates to the readers, with regard to the resolution of the issues / problems that were addressed.

Dear Judy,

I publish a job search blog and I've run across an ethical dilemma. It concerns the ethics of leaving information out of a resume. The text in the blog explaining the dilemma reads:

OK, we all know it's unethical to add made-up stuff to resumes, right? Right. But how about leaving things off? How about leaving things off if the purpose is to create a false impression? Like the resume I put in the mail today for a job I'm highly qualified to do. I'm in my mid-40s and I've had two careers. First, I was in the glamour business in Hollywood. I wrote for magazines and I developed and produced TV shows for national syndication. I had "creative" jobs, the kind of jobs just about everyone who doesn't have a creative job wants.

And I hated it. (OK, it's more complicated than that, but who cares?) So I changed careers, becoming an entrepreneur and marketing guy. I discovered that I really loved business, and now I'm looking for a job and I suspect that I'm getting tossed on a lot of reject piles because my resume contains the taint of glamour. I can hear the HR managers huffing: "Huh, this guy has worked in Hollywood. He wrote for Playboy. He'd never be happy here."

Which is unfair because "here" is exactly where I want to be, and "there" - with all the glamour - is what I gladly left behind. I long to suffer the drudgery of P&L responsibility and strategic planning.

So I cut the first half of my career off my resume. Gone are all the magazines I've written for. Gone is my life as a scriptwriter and development producer in Hollywood. Gone is the TV show I write for PBS and most of what I accomplished for the start-up cable network I worked for.

The overall effect is that I look younger and less accomplished on paper.

My question is: Have I done something unethical?


Tom Johnson
*** name printed by request of letter writer


You raise some interesting questions. It is not unethical to leave off items from a resume. Very simply, you are focusing on a new area, and therefore are presenting those highlights. Label the "Experience" section, "Career Highlights."

But, and this is a big if.... if you are required to fill out a job application, you must list ALL employment. Applications are legal documents. Also, many companies do job audits and may very well do a background check on you. They will then discover those items not listed.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with listing briefly, some of your past experience. Play down the "glamour" part. Emphasize the business skills used in producing a show for PBS. List some of the articles you have written. You can create an addendum for your resume which highlights your first career.

I believe honesty is the best policy. Too often, we get so concerned with covering up things, that we trip ourselves up, and subsequently shoot ourselves in the foot.

There are ways to present the earlier experience that can make it an asset in your new endeavors and career goals. Pull out those items that you are proud of and illustrate the skills and accomplishments that have relevance to your current career search.

For the record, that is the way I would handle the situation.

I hope this helps.


Dear Judy,

For the past 25 years I have worked as an accountant at a CPA firm. I am not a CPA, and have no desire to acquire my certification. Several months ago I began salary negotiations with my employer, and realized that he was no longer willing to provide me with the salary I required. During this period, my husband died unexpectedly, leaving me as the sole supporter of two young children.

I took a leave of absence, and for six months stayed home caring for the children, refocusing, and adjusting to our loss. Presently, I am seeking to reenter the workforce. However it is clear that my employer has no desire to reemploy me, and again, meet my career and salary objectives. I have decided that I would like to be an independent contractor, for that will allow me the flexibility to care for my family and provide for them financially. I am though, uncertain how to achieve these goals.

MK - Buffalo, NY

Dear MK,

First and foremost, let me express my condolences to you. I admire your courage and the presence of mind you have displayed with regard to your priorities.

You have already taken the first step. You have identified what you want to do. Many, in your situation, would go back to their previous jobs, though they were unhappy. Unfortunately panic and insecurity often drives people to that "comfort zone."

You display a great degree of confidence, knowing that you can support your family as an independent contractor. With 25 years' accounting experience, there is no doubt you have the skills and the reputation to pursue your objectives.

I will assume that you already have a resume that highlights your areas of expertise, skills, and possibly a sample listing of high profile projects you worked on, and are now trying to determine what step to take next.

My advice to you - NETWORK!! From the additional information that I have received from you, I understand you have deep roots in the community, and are active in a number of civic and religious organizations. Inform everyone that you are branching out on your own and establishing a home-based business.

Contact anyone you know that operates a business and would have use for your accounting services. Others could include independent contractors, such as yourself, that may have no idea how to set up or manage their own books. With the proliferation of home-based businesses, and independent contractors, this could provide an excellent market for you.

And lastly - start contacting the clients of your ex-employer. As long as you did not sign a non-competitive contract there is nothing to prohibit you from informing these former clients that you are available. This is business. Remember, it is your employer who did not wish to pay you more. You have worked for him for 25 years and undoubtedly it was your outstanding work that helped build his client base. So capitalize on this.

Of course there are the traditional ways to find a job - want ads, recruiters, and so on. However, based on your specific background, I believe that you will receive the quickest results from networking.

Please keep me apprised of your progress, so we can share it with the rest of the readers.

Good luck!


Dear Judy,

I have worked in the government bonds and securities industry for the past 15 years. However, this sector of the industry is becoming highly automated, and within a short time, there will be fewer opportunities for government bond brokers, as our jobs are becoming obsolete. My experience has been entirely in this specific area. How do I transition into other sales positions?

Howard R., Government Bond Broker, NYC

Dear Howard,

Yes, I have been aware of the changes occurring in the industry for some time. However, you should not panic. What you need to do is sit down and evaluate your skills and accomplishments. A key factor in your industry, and in other sales positions, regardless of the industry, is relationship building. Ability to sell services or a product to a client and establish a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with that individual or institution.

If you are continuing to look in the financial services industry then it is crucial to highlight your knowledge and understanding of the industry as a whole. No doubt, you have been exposed to the fundamentals of the securities industry in the past fifteen years. Why were you successful? Were you able to assess your client's needs, industry and market trends, and enact appropriate solutions? Were you receptive to your client's needs and available to them, as required? Did you bring in business and increase revenues to the firm?

These types of qualities and accomplishments are transferable across industry lines. Regardless of the industry or product, these skills are fundamental to success within sales.

Therefore Howard, I suggest you list all your skills, positive traits, and the reasons why clients and your employers liked you. These should serve as the core of your résumé. Following this, review postings for positions you are interested in and the qualifications they are seeking. Tailor your resume accordingly and in a cover letter illustrate how your previous experience and qualifications can meet the prospective employers' needs and how you can be of value to them.

I hope this helps Howard and if you have any further questions, please feel free to write.

Good luck.


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Judy Friedler, NCRW, JCTC

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