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Should I leave my first "job" off my resume?

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Intern
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Joined: 01 Nov 2013
Posts: 21
Schools: Anderson '17 (I)
GPA: 3.51
WE: Education (Education)
Should I leave my first "job" off my resume? [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2013, 15:09
I earned an MA after college, worked for five years, and now I'm applying for full-time MBA programs. I spent the year after my MA in seminary discerning a vocation to the priesthood. I've never included this on my resume, for obvious reasons, and I write the years I worked someplace rather than the months. (2010-2011 v. Dec. 2010-Sept. 2011). But I'm filling out application forms, and they ask some very specific questions, like how many months I will have worked by the start of classes, and to explain any employment gaps in my resume. If the person seeing my application sees that I graduated from my program in 2008 (courses ended in May, but the graduation date on my transcript was in November), and my first job is "2009-2010," will the person reviewing my application see that as a gap? Or is it common to leave irrelevant jobs from years ago off your application?

I can easily explain, as some of my friends have done, that I spent some time working as a "religious worker," but that has nothing to do with the rest of my career history, and they might interpret this as a lack of direction. I would REALLY prefer to not have to discuss this during my M7 interviews, so do I have to mention it in the application form? Or should I just wait until someone asks?
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Re: Should I leave my first "job" off my resume? [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2013, 22:04
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trinko -

Yes, they will mostly likely see it as a gap . . . using the year-only versus month-year format to hide stuff is a relatively well-known technique in admissions circles. If I was looking at your application and saw your resume the way you described it (graduated in 2008, first job starting in 2009), the next thing I would probably do would be to flip to your optional essay to see if you wrote anything about a gap. I'd probably expect to see something along the lines of backpacking in Europe after graduating, challenges finding a position during that time, etc. - not a big deal. But when you didn't say anything in the optional, my interest would be piqued, but not in a positive way. If they eventually decide that you're trying to hide something, that can throw everything else into question, too. As for leaving jobs off of your resume, I would generally say that's only acceptable for people who have tons of work experience (think decades).

Personally, I don't see the fact that you considered the priesthood as that big of a deal. I can actually think of a bunch of ways where that background could be positively spun into an asset. I hear what you're saying about possibly conveying a lack of direction, but have you showed solid direction and progression since then? That's the more important thing. You haven't provided many details about your profile, but I don't see something like this negatively impacting your candidacy.

If you do end up putting this experience on your resume, I'd be quite sure it'll come up in your interviews just because it's so out of the ordinary. However, knowing that you're going to get a question or two about it is empowering because you can prepare for it and come up with effective responses that shift the focus back to the great work you've been doing more recently.

I hope this helps a bit, and good luck finishing up your applications!

Regards,
Jon
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Re: Should I leave my first "job" off my resume? [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2013, 22:43
After I left, I had a job in records management at an aviation company for about six months, then I left to work at a HYP research institute (pertaining to my history MA), where I worked on educational research databases. When those projects ended, I left to work on a database automation project at a top ranked theology library. Last year, I took a job teaching humanities at a prep school when someone in my network needed a replacement. Ultimately, I'd like to go into educational technology consulting, which suits my background in information resource management, and all three schools I plan to apply to are T15. 3.51 GPA, 740 GMAT

If I can leave the priesthood off my resume, even if I have to mention the experience in an essay, I'll be very relieved. I know it would make excellent material for "failure or setback" essay, or the Columbia "what would we be surprised to learn about you" essay, but wouldn't it be bad to draw so much attention to it?

The other option is to not even mention the priesthood and simply say in a few sentences that I spent the year as a volunteer religious worker. That might make it a little more palatable, since it would come off as something more akin to the Peace Corps. I am afterall looking to move into social enterprise consulting, and I wouldn't have to delve into personal details.
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Re: Should I leave my first "job" off my resume? [#permalink]

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New post 07 Dec 2013, 23:55
Hmm. The brief description of your work experience strikes me as a little bit of a sticky situation overall, since it doesn't scream "this is a linear, intuitive path that of course has led me to an MBA." From an accumulated skills and post-MBA goals standpoint, though, I can see how your narrative can make some sense, and I can also see how re-characterizing that early part of your career might be desirable.

Overall, given that your academics are pretty solid, I imagine that you'll get a lot of deeper looks no matter what from a reasonable number of T15 programs. If you're able to pull off the right strategic approach to your resume and essays, hopefully you'll be able to have a lot of success in your application process.

Good luck!

Regards,
Jon
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Re: Should I leave my first "job" off my resume? [#permalink]

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New post 20 Mar 2018, 10:50
Hello from the GMAT Club MBAbot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: Should I leave my first "job" off my resume?   [#permalink] 20 Mar 2018, 10:50
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