When is it time to take something off your resume?

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A common misconception is that you should include your whole career path on your resume. While this is true for some people, most people should include some adjusted version of their career path on their resume. Today I wanted to discuss the question of when is it time to take something off of your resume.

If it doesn’t serve a purpose

If you’re pondering the question, when is it time to take something off of your resume, consider the fact that you only have a set amount of space to craft the perfect snapshot of your career. Everything on your resume should serve a purpose.

  • Is an experience listed on your resume to camouflage an employment gap?
  • Is an experience listed on your resume to highlight your experience in a particular field or specialty?
  • Is an experience listed on your resume because you want to show that you have experience in a specific role?
  • Is an experience listed on your resume because the company name holds influential power?

Every piece of information included should serve a purpose. If it does not, it’s time to remove it from your resume.

If it was in a different lifetime

Depending on the person and situation, I typically recommend including about 10-20 years of experience on a resume. Including information that’s older than that is often not worth it. There are exceptions to this if the experience serves a purpose, (i.e. it shows a notable company, client, or role) however most of the time you don’t need to go back that far.

If you have a lot of great experience that was a few decades ago, you can save those anecdotes to use during your interview.

If it makes you seem less experienced or too experience

Some experiences may have been very valuable and may have even been a turning point in your life/career, but they might work against you. Great examples of experiences that are important but not important for your resume when you have an established career are college classes or internships. Note that these are not important to include if you have an established career. If you are currently in school or just out of school searching for your first job, college classes or class projects are a great way to bolster your resume and highlight your industry knowledge. However, if you do have an established career, they will often make you appear less experienced.

Unless you’re currently in college or recently graduated (looking for your first job out of college) there is no need to include information about the classes you took in school. Once you’ve made it past your first or second entry-level job, employers care more about what you’ve accomplished at work than what you learned in a classroom. Education is important, but on the job experience always take precedence.

On that same note, it’s important to consider if a role makes you appear too experienced for the position you’re applying to. If you’re trying to shift careers or maybe take a lower-level position because of location, it’s important to be conscious of what information can make you appear too experienced for the job. If a potential employer feels that you’re overqualified for the job, they may fear that you’ll get bored easily which could equate to you inadequately completing required tasks or leaving a role quickly which would increase turnover.

Ultimately, every piece of information you include on your resume should serve a purpose. It may be tempting to include everything to show your entire career path and/or versatility, but it’s important to consider the question of when is it time to take something off of your resume. If it doesn’t serve a purpose or was from a different lifetime, it’s probably time to take it off.

This article first appeared on Write Styles.

Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer, personal branding expert, and founder of Write Styles. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves both on paper and in person and works to polish individuals’ application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles provides resources to enhance your resume, professional appearance, and boost your confidence. Michele strives to help others gain the confidence to put their best foot forward in a personal and professional light.