There's no need to worry if you decide to leave a job off your resume. Your resume should show your best self, so if leaving some of your work experience off is helpful, that is acceptable. If you are able to give a valid reason for the gap in employment, it should not keep you from getting a job.
Creating a Cohesive Work History
It is fine to leave a job off your resume, but it is not OK to have large gaps of time without explaining them. Big gaps in your work history make potential employers wonder if you are hiding something. If, for example, you went back to school and were simultaneously working a little part-time job that has nothing to do with your field, you can leave the part-time job off your resume. Make sure you account for the gap by including your education on your resume and making clear in your cover letter what you did at that time.
If You Were Fired or Left a Job in Disgrace
If you have been fired or let go for negative reasons, it may not be wise to put the job on your resume. This is doubly true if you think your former employer would give you a poor recommendation. If you worked at this job for a long time and don't have another excuse for that long time gap, you may need to leave it on. Play with resume formats to downplay the job. A skills-based resume can be used instead of a conventional, chronological format.
If a Job or Employer is Controversial
If you think you may be judged negatively for having a former job, it may make sense to leave it off your resume. Employers can't openly discriminate against you, but they don't have to have a good reason to pass on you, either. Incriminating or culturally inappropriate jobs like working for controversial organizations or doing adult work may not be good resume material. Leave it off and focus on the qualifications and work experiences that show you in a better light.
If Your Time at Job is Insignificant
Listing jobs that you stayed at for a very short amount of time may work against you. If you worked at a job for less than a year and it is not directly relevant to the job you are applying for, it may be better to leave it off your resume. Showing jobs that you barely stayed at makes you look flaky and unreliable. A small gap between jobs is not a red flag for employers.
Follow Application Instructions
Some jobs specifically require applicants to list all former employment. If this is the case, do not leave off any jobs. It is most important, in these cases, that you follow the instructions. Applicants who do not follow instructions are likely to be rejected without a second glance.
Kayla Richard has been writing from Rochester, N.Y., since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English writing arts from SUNY Oswego and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from SUNY Brockport.