I received a question from a reader about dates and job history on resumes.
Dear Interview Doctor,
I have had a long career. The early jobs were the foundation of my career but feel like a long time ago and not very relevant to my current career goal. Should I leave them off my resume? Thanks for the help!
I can appreciate your frustration. There are too many and not enough ways to get feedback on a resume. Everyone has their own opinion. It could make a person dizzy to respond to every suggestion. Sort of like resume whiplash!
Here are some questions you should ask yourself so you can make a decision about your resume that suits your own career plans:
- Are those early jobs kind of “duh”? For example, every Finance executive probably started as an Auditor or Staff Accountant. That kind of job does not really have much to do with the strategic work a Finance executive performs. Maybe the earliest job could be left off the resume.
- Is there something cool about an early job? My first job was labor relations in railroads. It is kind of an oddity. I received questions about it. It gave me something to talk about and legitimatized my fast career trajectory because I started in labor relations. Maybe leave it in.
- Does an early job support a career change? Amy was a teacher years ago before going into marketing. Now she wants to teach marketing at the college level. Her early teaching experience gives her a credential or credibility to support her claim that she can teach. Maybe she should leave the early job in. If she were looking for career advancement in marketing, perhaps she should leave it out because it is not relevant to her career goals.
You never want to lie or mislead. EVER. But with limited space on a one or two page resume, it is completely ok in my view to include the relevant jobs and leave off the oldest jobs that are less relevant.
If that idea makes you uncomfortable, perhaps have the full list of jobs appear in your LinkedIn profile and leave off the early jobs in your resume to save space.
Or you could have a heading called “PRIOR EXPERIENCE” at the end of the resume with a list of prior experience that looks like this: “COMPANY – Job Title”. I would leave the dates off if you are concerned about revealing your age. This method could be a great way to keep the resume information relevant while disclosing your entire history and de-emphasizing your age.
Bottom line about resumes is: it is up to you. You are the last word in managing your career and your career / job search materials.
What do you think?
I would love to answer YOUR questions. Send questions to Katherine@InterviewDoc.com.
Having trouble updating your resume? Check out The Interview Doctor’s free guide, “How to Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes with Resumes”, for more tips.