Q. I am considering accepting a position that is less important than the senior director position I lost last month. Do I add this new job to my rsum while I continue to look for an executive position?
A. You face a difficult dilemma, having lost your job during a time when layoffs are becoming more common; and good positions are tough to find. Even so, unless it's absolutely critical for financial reasons that you accept the "less important" job, you might want to strongly consider your alternatives, says Kara Leppert, a recruiter in Nashville who works with charities. "It costs organizations money and energy to hire a new employee, and to have the new employee not fully present in what they've been hired to do — I have some ethical questions about that."
Rather than accepting a job knowing you're going to leave, she says, perhaps you could pay the bills by doing temporary work or consulting until you are able to find the executive position you really want.
"The world can be kind of small depending on the niche you're in," she says, and by job hopping, you could acquire a bad reputation that might linger even after the job market improves.
If you do have to take the job, says Lea Sloan, a career coach in Washington, you shouldn't worry that prospective employers will hold it against you that you took a step down the job ladder.
"In this economic time, with a lot of people being laid off, employers understand that people have been laid off and they have to take positions in order to be financially stable," Ms. Sloan says.
But in such cases, she adds, the job seeker will have to explain his or her choice to potential employers in the future, "in a matter-of-fact kind of way, rather than an apologetic kind of way or a defensive kind of way," she says. For instance, she says, when interviewing for a new position, you can say, "I took a job below my level because I wanted to be responsible."
While you could leave the interim job off your résumé, Ms. Sloan says, you would have to explain the gap and why you left the position you lost. And since it's possible that your search for an executive post could take six months to a year, she instead recommends that you reorder your résumé.
First, list your progressively advancing jobs in chronological order. Then, in a section titled Additional Experience, list the new, less prestigious job and other experiences youve had that are not as relevant to the position you are seeking. Ms. Sloan says that such an approach could be used if you dont take the job you are considering now and instead consult or do temporary work.