Ask LH: Should I Mention My Adult Entertainment Career On My Resume?

Ask LH: Should I Mention My Adult Entertainment Career On My Resume?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m currently 26 and the only work I’ve ever done since I turned 18 is in online adult entertainment. It paid great money: far more than my friends made in their full-time jobs and working far less hours. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce and finished in 2008, but stuck with my adult career. But now that I’m getting older I’m looking for other work.

I’m guessing a lot of HR staff won’t look kindly on the past work I’ve done. On the other hand, if I omit it from my resume it might look like I’ve never had a job since I worked at McDonald’s when I was 17! What should I do? Thanks, Adult Education

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Dear AE,

That’s an interesting dilemma. Undoubtedly some employers would wonder about such a lengthy gap on your resume, and some would have a negative reaction to someone who hadn’t worked in adult entertainment. But the problem isn’t insurmountable.

I’d be inclined to leave it off your resume, As we noted recently when another reader asked if jury duty should be included on a resume, the ideal resume doesn’t run to more than a page, so it’s OK not to put all the work you’ve done on there. Admittedly, that’s easier if you’ve worked more than one job!

It also still leaves the question of explaining the period between finishing university and doing no other work. But we no longer live in a world where people work one job for extended periods. Career gaps aren’t uncommon: many people take a break to have children, or to recover from study, or to look after a sick relative. If your skills are relevant, then that should be all that matters. If a potential employer asks, simply say you had a few years off and are now looking to return to the workforce.

With that said, you also need to consider the question of cultural fit. If you’ve previously been happy working in adult entertainment, are you really going to be happy in a workplace that views that as a shameful or degrading career choice? There’s not much satisfaction to be had in a job where your values don’t match the overall culture. From that point of view, being direct (but not explicit) about your past might be a better choice in the long run. The best solution would be to take a middle ground: not emphasising your past career unless the skills involved are directly relevant, but not lying about it if it does come up.

That’s our perspective. What do readers think? Share your thoughts in the comments. Good luck with the job search!

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.


  • Well, you could always put down that you were a pool cleaner (“I have come to cleeeen ze poooel”)

    But in all seriousness, it would depend on the job. If it were a forward-facing job (such as teacher or any other job where you’re dealing with the public) I wouldn’t, but if it were an office job where you’d be speaking on the phone, designing brochures and stuff, and you know the employer wouldn’t care, I might put it down, but would be more likely to mention it if asked.

    Could also put down “self employed”, “freelancer” or “studying” if any of those could apply to you.

  • I don’t think it would be reasonable to disqualify a resume (especially for a graduate position) purely because of a gap in employment history. I’d say leave it off, and use the introductory part of an interview to gauge the environment and how comfortable you’d be giving an honest answer to the inevitable “so what were you doing between uni and now?” question.

    • Not a realistic attitude unfortunately. It may mean that they miss ideal candidates, but when employers (or agencies working on their behalf) receive dozens of applications for a position they quickly sift through them to get them down to a manageable number. Someone with a big gap on their CV would most likely be cut on that first pass. It would take too long to dig into every CV to explore the reason why and expecting to get to the interview stage to explain the gap is unrealistic.

  • “some would have a negative reaction to someone who hadn’t worked in adult entertainment”

    Unless you’re going for a job acting in a porno flick, why would they have a negative reaction to that?

    • I was just about to say the same thing…

      I certinaly have a negative reaction to anyone other than porn stars and exotic dancers.

      It’s just how I was brpught up.

  • I have been in the exactly same position. I have always put it on my resume, but have creatively reworded my job description to sound more professional. In general, just describe the work elements that will apply to the job you are applying for. For example, interacting with customers.

  • what ^ said but say it was things you did as part of a self employed entrepreneriral venture which you took the initiative to do to learn new experiences and meet ppl

    basically spin it around to focus on the skills

    just be prepared to have an iron clad background story

  • Conversely, after four months of looking for entry level admin work, I’m willing to broaden my career path to include porn – but I’ve got the dilemma of not having prior experience in the Adult Entertainment industry.

  • there’s always the old ‘an NDA prevents me from discussing the details of my work’ approach. They’d need to verify that you did work for the companies, but you could avoid giving away your actual role.

    If you were behind the scenes you can just focus on the job specifics (sales, marketing, client interaction, web design, video editing, whatever). If you were the actual talent, it’s a lot harder to avoid disclosing that aside from generic statements like ‘I was a freelance model’

  • I think that the most disappointing thing about this will be that no matter what the spin on your previous experience is, when someone finds out and tattles on you, you’ll probably lose your job.

    The media exposure and subsequent humiliation of losing your job in such circumstances may make you think carefully about tactfully being upfront about it.
    If they don’t like the fact you’ve been adventurous in your youth at the beginning, they sure as hell aren’t going to like it when they read about it in the paper.
    On top of that, if you are dealing with children, in government or in education, you might as well just stop now. You *will* be relieved of your position, and most likely forcibly removed from the premises.

    At the very least, you can expect to be subjected to continual sniggers, snide remarks, unwanted come-ons (from both males and females), and any career progression will always be subjected to the comment “I bet they slept their way to the top’.

    It’s a sad fact this happens, and I don’t care much for that mindset, but prudes, conservatives and morons are everywhere, and they love to ruin someones life.

    Given you have the qualifications, and experience, why not start up something in the adult industry ? There’s still plenty of scope for women friendly porn, and it’s not like men are going to stop looking anytime soon.

    Alternatively, lie through your teeth, and say you were living overseas for a while with friends/family.

    Best of luck..

    • Mandroid I disagree somewhat, unless the person is applying for politics or the priesthood I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘media’, this is hardly a unique situation, many have previously done adult work. Any employer would have to have rock solid evidence that they have lied, just doing Adult work is not grounds for being immediately dismissed let alone escorted from the premises. Regardless if working in government or education.
      Furthermore the longer you work at a Company the less they care what your previous Job was, your visible performance is much more important.

      Dear Ex adult worker:

      I agree with Friendly and Friendlier, and I know people who have navigated out of the same position as you are in. It’s good to break out of the adult industry, as it can be a trap for some, and the long term pay isn’t as good as a career.

      Definitely Make sure your background is ironclad- having your background story breached is more of a concern then someone finding out and gossiping- you can always deny gossip, and gossip can’t get you sacked.

      Either claim you were self employed or claim to have worked for a large company that has lots of turn over- just make sure you know who does the recruiting for said large company, this also helps with the question- why did you leave? (I’m looking for a company to build a career with..”

      If your background story is breached- admit that your resume was fudged- back up story is that you worked for a small company and left after being sexually harassed by your Boss.

  • Funny that I am using my former working name for this comment not my real one.. I had a less lengthy gap, of two years, and I just lied and said I was travelling. That industry is a long way from where I am now and is ultimately irrelevant to where I’m going. I would never in a million years put it in a resume

  • I hate to say it but I think your gender may have a big impact on peoples perceptions of your previous work.A big gap in your resume can lead to employers/HR firms just throwing out your application due to suspecting things like imprisonment and drug addiction.

  • Just put it in , the new boss might be a sleazy bastard and hire you to hit on you , then sue the prick for sexual harrassment then you can have a few years off work.

  • I would put it down as “Volunteer work” or “Social Work”.
    People tend not to ask about volunteer stuff or if they do, just say attending to the less fortunate and leave it as that.
    I wouldn’t tell people about the adult industry experience as men will tend to look at you differently from then on.

  • this is basically my story to a tee, however I left a year ago to persue media agency work, and then ended up coming back because I enjoyed the cultural fit, people etc. I however have now had to go back into media and it has been the hardest thing , finding the right fit , employer who understands and can look past the stigma , to see who you are and what your worth.

    in the end , find the right employee, it takes time, patience and a shit load of telling yourself ‘its going to be ok’ but that’s what you need

    and I agree, reword your resume, but if they ask , the best thing you can do it be honest, the last interview I just went for, we went through my entire site portfolio, and my now employer looked straight at he code, rather than the content. – that’s what you want. Not someone who will judge you.

    Best of Luck,

    ps the adult industry is huge, booming and at most times, at the forefront of all things technological, great work!

  • I would list it as Web Conference Facilitator. At the end of the day you engaged customer(s) online and directed the content and discussion to keep the participants interested. The ability to engage an audience through an online medium should be valuable skill for a lot of industries. I’m sure that engagement can be transferred to presenting a business analysis rather than eating a cheesecake naked.

  • Put it in your resume, but just say you worked in the “entertainment industry”. Instead of saving you were a “pole dancer”, just say you were a “dancer”.

    -Live Performer
    – Performed in live shows on stages
    – Independent films

    You are working as a performer, they don’t need to know the context it was in.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!