Can I exclude from my resume a job that I left during my employment probation period?

The Employment Probationary Period

Let’s say you took a job that didn’t work out. You only stayed for a few short weeks and left within the employment probation period. Are you obligated to put that employment stint into your resume’s work history?

I get why you’d want to leave it out of your resume. You don’t want your resume to get cluttered with such as a short employment term, and you don’t want your employment history to appear checkered.

Unfortunately – and to err on the side of caution – it is always better to put it in your resume. If your employer finds out this piece of employment history was deliberately left out, it could affect your credibility within your company (at best) or could be grounds for dismissal (at worst).

“To err on the side of caution, it is always better to put it in your resume.”

Do put that short employment in your resume. You can simply enter the year in which you worked at the company and leave out the months. (But make sure your other resume employment dates do not include months; this is for the sake of consistency.) To be proactive, you may even explain in your cover letter that you departed from the company during the probation period and the reason was because the company or your job role (or whatever it was) wasn’t as you expected.  You don’t need to get into specifics.

I would say that the only time you could safely leave out your probation employment details is if it was so early in your career that it would no longer be relevant to the employer.  In my earlier blog, I stated a few legitimate reasons why you would want to exclude earlier employment details; for example, you’ve had a change in career and are now a database programmer. What you did as a bookkeeper or building supply salesman 15 years ago may no longer be relevant your prospective employers in the IT world.

Or let’s say you took a job at Safeway or Home Depot right out of college while you were still finding your feet and trying to pay the bills. That early bit of employment history won’t be relevant now to your prospective employer if you are seeking a job as a construction project manager.

In an Ideal World

If I could have things my way, I would say that everyone should be allowed to have “free” employment stints without facing “penalties”. In an ideal world, employers wouldn’t have to go through a series of interviews to make sure they are making the right hiring decision. (Studies show that even with countless interviews, employee testing, screening for academic credentials and training, the chances of making the right hiring decision are still random.) With my idea, the threshold for hiring a new person would be lowered; a company need only have an interview or two, and a good “hunch” about the candidate. For the candidate, his only cost would be his time. If the candidate doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, both parties walk away, as if the employee had never been hired in the first place.

For the employee, this makes plenty of sense: after all, how would you really know this is the right place for you to work unless you actually step into the office and start interacting with your manager and colleagues? I talk about this in my earlier blog on how to tell if a company is the right place for you to work at. 

Unfortunately, nothing is free, and there is a cost for a company every time it onboards a new employee. That new hire will have to be signed up for the company health and benefits plan, government pension plan, payroll deductions, etc. His name enters the company’s HR system and is now legally a new employee. The company begins to make investments in the new hire: he will need to be trained by the company, go to orientation sessions, and along the way, he may come across the company’s trade secrets and other confidential information.

So even if the new hire leaves the company after a month, there is a certain cost that the company absorbs. Thus, companies will still closely scrutinize and deliberate on every hiring decision it makes because it wants to avoid unnecessary costs.

What Would an Imaginative Company Do?

One thing that an innovative company might consider is bringing on that prospective hire as an “intern” for a week or two. The intern takes no pay or benefits and is never officially recorded as a new employee. The intern essentially shadows a colleague to see what the company is like to work for. The intern might be given a few tasks to perform to assess his abilities. At the end of the week, both parties will know each other much better, and are in a better position to determine whether they should proceed in consummating a formal employment contract.

To my knowledge, this has never been done and I don’t know how practicable it would be for companies to follow this practice. But companies take on interns all the time, so it’s not like they have no experience in this area. However, they may feel that confidential information or trade secrets could be compromised, especially if the “intern” is in a senior level of management. But this could be dealt with by having the intern sign a non-disclosure agreement, just like with all other new employees.

For HR or hiring managers who read this, I’d like to know your thoughts on how practicable this would be. I can definitely see the benefits: there would be less future staff turnover because both the new hire and the company know what to expect of each other; the employer wouldn’t have to expend more time and resources a year or two down the road in finding another employee because that earlier employee “didn’t work out”. 

“For HR or hiring managers who read this, I’d like to know your thoughts on how practicable this would be.”

For the employee, it is as if he had never joined the company and therefore won’t need to record this stint in his work bio. For the company, it will not have incurred any cost other than bringing on an “unpaid intern” for a week or two.

You can almost call this “probation-lite”.  It’s even better than probation because it’s faster, and could potentially lead to better long-term hiring results.

Have you hit a road bump in your job search? Perhaps your resume and cover letter are not as persuasive and impactful as they can be? Call me today at 604 251 3203 for a free consultation on how you can put your best foot forward in today’s competitive job market.

Should you use a broad-based resume, or one that is specific and narrow?

One of the benefits of using a broad-based “general” resume is that you can use the same one and send it to dozens of employers, saving you a lot time and energy. A broad-based resume is one where it sets out your entire inventory of skills, without focusing or emphasizing any particular set. It tells the employer: “Here, I can do all of these of things: A, B, C and D. Hire me.” The problem is that your competitors (i.e. other job applicants) are all saying the same thing. So how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Employers receive stacks of resumes for one job (assuming it’s a highly-sought position) and only spend a minute or less reviewing a resume before deciding whether it goes into the “interview” pile or the rejection pile. That’s how much time you have to make a favourable impression with the employer. In my view, a generic or “general” resume is not going to cut it. The more general a resume becomes, the more it loses its impact or “punch”.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

You are better off creating a resume that is specifically tailored for the vacancy or type of position you want to get. Your resume must speak directly to the needs of employer, and every employer has different needs. Your resume is almost like a sales brochure, the more it appeals to the needs and wants of the employer, the greater your chances of winning an interview.

Let’s say you’re a marketing professional and want to apply to a social media marketing manager role at a consumer goods retailer. First and foremost, your resume should highlight the fact that you are experienced in running retail social media promotions and campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It should clearly state your expertise in studying traffic analytics, new visitor data, retail customer buying trends, influencers, etc. All of this should be the focal point of your resume, front and centre for the reader to see.

You don’t want to use a resume which talks about your broad and general experience in print, radio, television, conferences, and yes, social media. Your resume should tell the reader that you are an experienced and competent manager who has run successful social media campaigns. If you have print and radio marketing experience, you can mention that too, but that is secondary as far as this employer is concerned.

I am not saying you should misrepresent yourself as a social media “expert” if you don’t have the requisite experience or skills. But if you do have the experience, this should be made explicitly and abundantly clear. While it may take a few hours honing and re-shaping your resume, the sharpened focus that you give your resume will increase your chances of getting placed in the “interview” pile.

I have always believed that the best outcomes occur when you apply to jobs for which you’re well-qualified, with a resume that’s laser-focused for the position at hand. You get better results this way, compared to using a broad-based resume to apply for a dozen different jobs (where you may or may not be the strongest fit) and where your chances of getting invited to an interview are minimal.

Need to talk to someone about your resume?

I have over 15 years of experience working in the employment and careers field, and can give you guidance on creating a resume that will give you the maximum impact, increasing your chances of being called for an interview. Contact me today for a free consultation 604 251 3203.

Do you need a college degree to get a good job?

I came across an amazing interview on The Best Business Show with Anthony Pompliano with guest Hannah Maruyama, co-host of The Degree Free podcast. Hannah brings incredible insight over the question of whether one actually needs a college degree to secure a good-paying job.

I’ve wrestled with this question before, in my blog “Is a university degree worth it?” The amazing point that Hannah brings to this question is that most people think getting a college or university degree is a low risk-option for young people; in fact, it is the most risky option because of the inflated tuition costs of universities these days, coupled with the opportunity cost of missing out on full-time earnings while enrolled in college.

Hannah raises the point that the average US tuition is now USD$30,000 per year, and the average number of years it takes a student to graduate is five and a half years. Starting off your working life with a debt burden of over $150,000 is demotivating. Add to that a tough job market where employers increasingly demand experience and marketable skills just to get in the door. It’s no wonder many graduates with History or Philosophy degrees end up working at Home Depot or Starbucks just to make ends meet.

But make no mistake, Hannah is not anti-college, and neither am I. Certain domains require a college degree only because the professions are regulated and getting a college degree is the only avenue (e.g. jobs as a nurse, lawyer, teacher, etc.) But the point is that there are thousands upon thousands of other jobs that don’t require a college degree, and not a lot of young people are even aware such jobs exist.

In this illuminating video, Hannah talks about ways you can get jobs without a college degree, how you can prepare to make yourself competitive in the job market, and how to improve yourself with continuing education and make yourself marketable in the eyes of employers.  Hannah likes to break the rules, her thinking is wonderfully heterodox, and best of all, her perspective is refreshing. Don’t miss this interview.

Need a new resume for an internal position which has just opened up at your company? I can help you create a resume which captures your best achievements during your tenure at the company. Put your best foot forward for that open position! Call me today at 604 251 3203.

What’s it like to work in the Bitcoin industry

Microstrategy’s Michael Saylor has been instrumental in ushering in the “Bitcoin standard” with his company now owning 129,218 bitcoins on its balance sheet.

Despite the recent price drawdown of Bitcoin, you can’t ignore its incredible price action over the last thirteen years, from zero dollars to its all-time-high of US$68,000 in late 2021. It’s been breathtaking to see the number of companies which has risen around the Bitcoin ecosystem, such as crypto and Bitcoin-only exchanges, crypto wallets and other hardware vendors, mining companies, and financial services.

It’s been impressive to see the number of companies putting Bitcoin on its balance sheet, such as Microstrategy, Tesla and Galaxy Digital Holdings. Fidelity now offers Bitcoin in their 401(k) retirement accounts and CI Galaxy offers a Bitcoin ETF. As an employment consultant and resume writer, I like to learn more about these companies and find out what it’s like to work there.

Last month, I came across a Twitter post by @anilsaidso talking about what it’s like to work at a Bitcoin-only company and how to get hired by those companies. The author is extremely knowledge about Bitcoin and writes/teaches about the subject prodigiously. He also tweets about important issues such as personal development, macro economics, business and finance, and career growth. I highly recommend you follow him.

In the link to Anil’s tweet below, you’ll read about the kind of people you’ll come across working in the Bitcoin field, how to find work in that field, and what to expect. 

Are you having trouble writing a cover letter that just doesn’t seem to fully capture your potential value to a company? Call me today and see how I can help you craft a winning cover letter that not only highlights your valuable skills, but persuades the hiring manager to invite you in for an interview. I can be reached at 604 251 3203, call today!

How do I know if this is the right company to work for?

How do I know if this is the right company to work for?
Caption: Liking Apple products and working at Apple are two different things.

A common question that I get asked during career coaching sessions is, How do I know if this is the right company to work for? The scenario is the following: You have been through the interview process, you meet the hiring manager and an HR associate, everything goes well, and they make you a job offer with a salary package that’s in your ballpark. So how do you know if this is the right company to work for? You start racking your brain and begin searching for clues as to whether is the right company for you.

Quite often, as an interviewee, the only clues you have about a company are: its brand name and corporate reputation; the way HR has treated you during the interview process; and your interactions with the hiring manager.

Let’s say it’s been a dream of yours to work for Lululemon or Nike, since you have a lot of its gear and have been a fan of the company for years. Just because the company makes your favourite apparel and make great ads, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company will be great place to work.

Then you think about the interactions you’ve had with the company during the interview process. So far, they’ve been organized and efficient in corresponding and meeting with you. Check. The HR associate and hiring manager have been pleasant and courteous. Check. Good so far.

But who will be your direct manager? If the hiring manager is going to be your direct boss, you can try to  imagine serving under him as his direct report. (Is he a micromanager? Will he be demanding? Is he fair?) But it’s hard to get a fair picture of what this person will be like to work for, given the two or three hours you spend together during the entire hiring process.

“One of the biggest determinants of whether you will be successful at a company is its people.”

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way of telling you whether this is the right company for you. But there are certain things you can do to get the odds are in your favour. In my opinion, one of the biggest determinants of whether you will be successful at a company is its people; namely, your direct boss and your future team members.

What I would encourage you to do is to try to set up a casual coffee or lunch with your future boss, and then hit them with questions (in an indirect subtle way, of course) which help you determine if he is the type of person you want to work for.  Like dating, it’s hard to know what a person is like over the course of one or two meetings, but it still gives you more information about the person than you had previously.

Also see if you can arrange a time to visit with other team members. Ask for a tour of the work area if possible. Can you get a feel for how team members interact with each other? How’s the work environment – is it chaotic? Buzzing with activity? Do you hear laughter? Ghostly silence? Do the people look like they are happy being there?

In your interactions with your direct boss and future team members, here are some things you can try to ascertain:

– What has been the general staff turnover in the department.

– Who are some of the long serving members in the team?

– What is the work culture like?

– Do they promote from within?

“You may very well end up relying on your gut to make your decision. It isn’t truly scientific, but sometimes it’s all you have.”

These are just some things you can do in deciding whether this is the right company for you. Bear in mind, you may not get all the information you need to make a proper decision. And you may very well end up relying on your gut to make your decision. It isn’t truly scientific, but it’s all you have.

In my experience, I have seen employees who by sheer luck ended up at a company for a decade or more, because many things worked out in their favour (having a fair boss, reliable team members, good salary and company perks, promotions, satisfying work, etc.) I have also seen employees who asked all the right questions during the initial interview process, checked all the right boxes, but for some reason, lasted only a year or two.

Again, to get the odds in your favour (after all, life outcomes are all about probabilities not certainties), you can try what has been suggested above. And be open for some lady luck!

For interview coaching, career coaching, or resume writing services, call Channel Resume to set up your initial free consultation. Find out why our services stand out from the rest. Call 604 251 3203.

Medical Mask Resellers Punished in Canada

I wrote a short article for back in April 2020 talking about how independent vendors of medical masks were fined for reselling PPEs when they were in short supply at stores and pharmacies.

I was asked by my friend Dr. Walter Block, a libertarian scholar and professor of economics at Loyola University at New Orleans, to expand on that article.  My publication now appears in Studia Humana, a peer-reviewed quarterly journal on political science and political economy from the University of Information Technology and Management in Poland.  

What does this publication have to do with resume-writing, you ask? Providing resume services, like any other service, is subject to the laws of supply and demand. If I charge too high of a price, demand lowers; if I lower my price, demand increases.

When government intervenes in the price that I set, you get perverse outcomes. Setting price controls on goods and services lead to shortages, especially during states of emergencies. Conversely, setting price ceilings leads to over-supply of any given service or product.

For our economy to operate at its most efficient, we need to government to stay out of the market and refrain from intervention. It is in this way that the market can allocate scarce resources, for entrepreneurs to aspire to their full potential in serving the needs of consumers, and for consumers to pay for goods and services at prices dictated by the market (e.g. other buyers), and not the government (e.g. bureaucrats and officials).    

Have a look at my article and see if you agree with me.

Career Night with UBC International Relations & Political Science Students

On January 22nd, I was invited by the UBC International Relations Students Society and the Political Science Students Association to take part in a alumni-student facilitated networking event. The central theme was about developing one’s career path and preparing for the job market.

Managed by Reshaad Ali, UBC Alumni Engagement Manager, and assisted by Maria Kim, Alumni Event & Project Specialist, the event had a unique structure in that each alumni member was assigned to a group of three or four students, and small discussions were held on questions such as:

  • What would you advise students still uncertain about their path?
  • What’s the most significant lesson you learned at UBC?
  • What is one thing that you’d do if you had the chance to go back?

For me, the most important question I received from a student was, “How can I best market myself to employers with my degree in Political Science?” I told him that the employer isn’t interviewing you because you are an “expert” in Political Science. Four years as an undergrad doesn’t make you an expert in any particular area (although you might know more about a certain field than others).

Rather, what you bring to an employer are the skills and traits that you acquired as an undergrad, and these include: learning to think critically, writing well, research skills, working on projects as a team, discipline to follow through on exams, assignments and papers. What you offer the employer is the smarts, agility and diligence to be trained and specialized in the employer’s business, and to thereby contribute real value to the employer in the near term.

Most students were keen to learn as much as they could from alumni, were respectful and polite, and asked some very good questions. I look forward to the next one.

JET Career Workshop

Last Sunday Nov. 25th, I once again had the opportunity of presenting a resume workshop to past participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET). (The last presentation I gave to this group was three years ago so it was good getting reconnected to the Program.) As some of you might know, I was in the Program decades ago in 1989, just one or two years after it first launched.

My presentation focused on how you can vastly improve your resume by highlighting your core skillsets (or as I like to say, your “core competencies”). These are skillsets that would be seen as most valuable to the employer, critical to success for the job at hand. As an exercise, I handed out sample “job openings” and asked participants to see if they could identify what core competencies would be required for the role. This gave a chance for people think about what the employer wanted, and to tailor their resume for the requirements of the job.

JETs do have a range of skillsets they could offer employers – including presentation, communication, social media, teaching, tutoring, administrative, facilitation – all of which could be important to an employer, depending on the nature of the role.

JETs shouldn’t hesitate to seek resume input from their peers, but ultimately, it’s up to you as to what should or should not go into your resume.

Lastly, I was asked about the difference between a CV (curriculm vitae) and a resume. Some regard a resume as a shorter version of the CV. I consider the two terms as synonymous, though I tend to only use the word “resume” in my own practice. The UC Davis career website had this to say:

“In many European countries, CV is used to describe all job application documents, including a resume. In the United States and Canada, CV and resume are sometimes used interchangeably. If you are not sure which kind of document to submit, it is best to ask for clarification.”

2017 UBC Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Career Evening – “Limitless”

On Thursday March 9th, I had the opportunity of speaking in front of UBC Arts students about the value of a liberal arts degree, the career paths available to undergrads, and how to approach the job market.

I, along with a panel of other Arts alumni, spoke for about 45 minutes at Café Medina, in downtown Vancouver. The event was moderated by Mishal Tahir, a second-year international student from Pakistan. The other two panelists were Tim Louman-Gardiner (BA’04 Political Science; LLB’07) and  Grace Mok (BA’02 Economics; Dip(Acct)’03).

It was a pleasure talking to the young audience comprising our future leaders. Many were friendly, optimistic about the future, curious about the job market after graduation.  The UBC Almni office deserves credit for sponsoring this helpful event, in conjunction with AUS.  I have always felt that universities and colleges should do all they can to help prepare students for the job market.

Left to right: Mishal Tahir, Grace Mok, Milton Kiang, Tim Louman-Gardiner












Is It Ethical To Leave Out Your Past Employment in Your Resume?

Like many ethical questions, the answer is “it depends”, which means there is a “yes” and “no” component to the answer. At the outset, I should state that a resume is your own personal work biography rather a legal document, so you are not required to state every job you’ve ever had. But what you are required to do is put in relevant credentials, and relevant work, training, and education information so that an employer can fairly assess your candidacy for a position.

Non-Career Jobs:

Let’s start with a past job that is not related to the industry you’re in. I would say that it’s okay to leave those jobs out. This includes part-time jobs in university, or the first one or two jobs you took right out of university before you found something in your field, or even a temp job that you took following a lay-off.

Leaving these jobs out may create gaps in your resume, so be prepared to talk about what you did during those time periods. You may also consider categorizing your job history into two sections: one that says “Relevant Job Experience” and the other saying “Other Experience”.


“What you are required to do is put in relevant credentials, and relevant work, training, and education information so that an employer can fairly assess your candidacy for a position.”


Career Jobs:

Now for past jobs that are related to your career, it gets a bit tricky. As a senior Vancouver resume writer, I believe it is okay to leave out a past job if you’ve had it for less than one year. Why one year? There are no fixed rules, and this may seem arbitrary, but if the job is one you’ve had for less than twelve months, it will appear as less of a gap in your work history, than one you’ve had for two or more years.

But if your employer asks you what you did during the period where you’ve omitted a past job, you’ll need to make a full disclosure, and tell them where you worked, what you did, and for how long. And if asked, you’ll need to tell them why you left.

Leaving out past jobs that go beyond 10 or 15 years is fine. Many employment experts seem to agree on this point. Your employer is most interested to know what you did recently, so spend the time when writing your resume to focus on writing out your job responsibilities and accomplishments during that last 10 to 15 years.

In closing, bear in mind that a resume is different from a job application form you might be asked to fill out. In the latter case, the employer will usually ask you to write down every job you’ve had, covering a specified time period.

Need a New Resume?

If you have any questions about updating or upgrading your resume, don’t hesitate to contact Channel Resume. For job applicants who work during regular office hours, I can arrange to meet you at a time or day that is convenient for you.