Do you ever wonder if it is safe to leave off a job from your resume?
If so, then you are in luck. The important thing to remember when crafting your resume’s work history is your future employer wants to see relevant work experience.
They probably don’t care about your summer job mowing your neighbor’s lawn for ice cream money.
But, there are several important things to remember when leaving jobs off your resume.
When to omit a job from your resume
Not every job that you have held will help you to get your next job.
“Upon college graduation,” wrote Sean Joyner in Archinect, an online resource for architects, “I had a lot of work experience compared to most of my peers. When I was fourteen, I started working at Six Flags Magic Mountain. When I turned eighteen, I started working at Home Depot.”
But, there’s one problem. That experience may not help when applying for after-college full-time jobs. “A mentor helped me see how the presence of those non-architectural jobs on my resume diminished my perceived value to an employer.”
Before including work experience that might be outside of your targeted industry, ask yourself if that job adds relevance to your resume. Especially if you have other related work experience to list, consider omitting experience that is irrelevant to the job you’re applying for.
Joyner noted that he still talks about his non-architecture experience in interviews when it’s appropriate.
What if it’s your first job?
If you don’t have a lot of work experience, it might be tempting to include irrelevant jobs just to fill that space on your resume with consistent employment.
In some cases, there is value to including these types of jobs. It demonstrates that you have held a job and are responsible enough to provide value in exchange for a paycheck.
But, consider highlighting any volunteer opportunities or internships that are more closely related to the job that you are applying for.
For instance, let’s assume you are going after your first computer science-related job straight out of college.
Did you work a summer internship writing computer code? If so, use that on your resume for your first full-time computer job. Or, did you volunteer your time fixing computers at your dad’s office? Again, consider highlighting that experience instead of your part-time job at the ice cream shop because it relates much more closely to your target job.
List any extracurricular activities during college that helped prepare you for your career. Grading papers. Helping your professor set up for class. Light consulting work with local businesses.
All of that experience counts for your first job. Use it on your resume if you do not yet have a relevant full-time work history.
However, once you start to develop a relevant work history, consider omitting any non-related work experience. Instead, highlight the experience that will give you the best chance at getting the job.
The resume gap
Lastly, don’t fall into the resume gap trap. If by omitting a job you are also creating a work history gap (ie: years without any work history), that might look suspicious to a potential employer.
If you have a work history gap, be prepared to talk about this during the interview.
But in general, I highly recommend avoiding the working gap on your resume if you can. Be sure that the hiring manager can quickly make sense of what lead you to your current position and how you built your career.