When is Omission Okay?

Mischa Barton

With Mischa Barton regretting The OC, we talk jobs you wish weren’t on your CV…

Last week Mischa Barton of the teen sensation series The OC was on the media trail promoting her new role as the face of a VAPESTICK, an e-cigarette company, and shocked a few people by confessing she regretted her part as Southern Californian princess Marissa Cooper. “It’s something I came so close to not doing,” she told the Metro. “People say ‘be grateful for what you have,’ but it (was) certainly not the kind of thing I was expecting it to be.”

It’s a confusing statement from Barton, considering the role made her career, even if her resume after never lived up to the hype – what do you mean you didn’t catch 2012’s I Will Follow You Into the Dark? However Mischa got us thinking about career regrets, especially that one job you don’t ever want to talk about. In fact mere mention of the stint is forbidden ever since you cried about it to your mammy.

Some people have even had a lot of those type of jobs. And while a rake of awful short-term roles might win you best story during pints, their anecdotal charm wears thin when you’re faced with the job search. Any decent interviewer will ask “Why did you leave this office so abruptly?” “I embarassed myself on a staff night out, woke up the next morning and made up vague family emergency and moved home for a month.” or “My boss was a wagon and threw two broken pens at me.” will not endear you to any potential employer.


To tell the truth or omit…

We asked career expert Paula Mullin how a proper adult should approach the thorny issue. Should you omit a job you’re embarrassed about from your CV? While your heart may say yes, O’Hara says no, “When writing your CV it is important that you include skills,strengths and achievements from past positions so that future employers can see how you will add value to their organisation. Even if you were in a position that you regret taking or perhaps it ended badly it is still worthwhile recognising that you did learn valuable skills that you should include in your CV.” When the role comes up in an interview “try to make your skills and achievements very specific and include detail that demonstrates clearly the results your delivered.” Mullin explains that “employers like to understand your full background” and that jobseekers should take advantage of all their experience and be honest.

If you are dead-set on not mentioning that stint where you once took a tea break to cry under your desk, Mullin says there are some exceptions, “If you held a role that you see as adding no value at all to your future role you can choose to omit it, however if asked about the gap in an interview you will have to tell them about it.” The longer your CV the more oppurtunity for editing, “If you have been working for a long time and have had a number of roles it is not necessary to include detail about junior positions you held earlier in your career. You can just include a list with the name of the company, the position you held and the dates.”

Don’t worry if your resume zig-zags. In today’s economic climate only the luckiest few have a career ascent like Sheryl Sandberg. Mullin agrees, “Lots of people’s careers do not form a perfect chronological order. There can be gaps in careers for lots of reasons including travel, sick leave, caring for family or the time it takes to secure your next job.” And always be honest, “Remember you are hoping to begin a long and positive working relationship with this company and that has to be grounded in the truth.”

What do you think? Is omission okay when looking for a job?

See Paula’s website for more information or contact her at

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

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