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!


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