March 5, 2018 |
Writing a resume can be a daunting task, especially if you have held multiple jobs that you aren’t sure are relevant to your current goals. How do you know what jobs to include and what jobs to leave off a resume? After all, your resume is a marketing document, not a legal one. You don’t have to list every job you’ve ever held. You can include the jons you want to include and leave other jobs off your resume.
Your resume is not a job application. An application will ask for specific information within a specific timeframe. Your resume is your opportunity to sell yourself. It is your branding document and you get to choose what you include on it.
There are several cases in which you may consider leaving a job off your resume. Maybe you worked a short term job that didn’t last long. Many students work part time or temporary jobs while in school. These positions may seem logical to leave off your resume especially if you feel like they didn’t contribute something significant to your career path that you want a potential employer to know about. However, you may have worked a short-term position that gave you experience in your chosen field and is worth keeping on your resume. If a job lasted three months or less, it is easier to justify leaving it off your resume.
You may also consider leaving off jobs that ended badly or that could look bad on your resume. This is not necessarily a problem but if it creates a significant gap in your employment history be prepared to explain what happened during that time in an interview with a potential employer. Any time there are significant gaps in your employment history most employers will question what took place during that time. The same also applies to jobs that you feel would look bad on a resume due to an issue with the company or industry that you worked in. If you leave those positions off your resume, you should be prepared to explain why in an interview.
There can be fine line between having a resume that is too long and leaving certain jobs off your resume. Generally speaking, you want to include five to seven years of job history on your resume. The exception to this would be if you have worked several long term jobs such that listing more than three on your resume would constitute a longer time period. Regardless, listing jobs that are more than fifteen to twenty years old may not be beneficial unless they involve experience that is very specifically related to the position you are currently applying for.
Sometimes you may consider leaving a job off your resume if you feel it would reflect poorly on you. This could be because of the perception of the industry you worked in or work done for a company that is viewed in a negative light. In these cases, you will have to make the determination on how that reflects on you. Most employers will understand that a company’s choices do not necessarily reflect those of their employees and most of these situations can be explained in an interview.
If you are considering leaving a job off your resume, you should ask yourself why. The answer to that question will help you determine if you should omit or include it. If you are worried about the image it creates, you may opt to leave it off. If you feel it isn’t relevant, be prepared to explain any gaps and make sure that it doesn’t make it appear that you don’t have much work experience. Put some thought into what you learned at the job and consider highlighting those things on your resume rather than leaving the job off completely. Maybe you didn’t learn specific computer programs but you gained experience in how to deal with difficult clients. There are a lot of skills that are picked up in jobs that would seem otherwise irrelevant.
Any time you opt to leave a position off a resume, you need to be prepared to have a good explanation for why. You want to make sure your resume is relevant and intriguing to potential employers but you also don’t want to leave them feeling like you were deceitful in some way. Employers also don’t like to see gaps in employment. For many this may lead them to believe that you were content with not working during a period of time which speaks to your work ethic and drive. If you have a gap in your employment you need to have a very good reason why.
While you may decide to leave some positions off your resume for a variety of reasons, the headache of worrying about how to explain those omissions may be more trouble than it is worth. It may be easier to list positions that you don’t feel are relevant for whatever reason in shorthand form and not go into great detail on the position rather than leaving it off completely. This will prevent having to explain why you left them off if they come up during reference checks or past employment backgrounds.
Depending on the positions you are applying for, it is common for applicants to have more than one resume. Many will have industry or job specific resumes that highlight the skills they would need or that would make them a good candidate for a specific position. In this case, it seems to make sense to leave some positions off your resume. Even in that situation, there is a good possibility you will eventually have to answer for that time period
If your job experience is limited, listing all your employment history will serve you better than leaving off jobs you don’t feel are relevant. Having experience in work of some kind will look better than not having experience at all. While it may not pertain to the specific job you are applying for, it will show that you have consistency, can demonstrate responsibility and have experience in a position. This will most likely lead to more opportunities for you than not showing a job history of any kind.