When You Can Leave a Job Off Your Resume

When You Can Leave a Job Off Your Resume

Putting together a resume involves deep thought and hard decisions. Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of creating a resume is deciding which jobs to include. Because it's not a legal document, your resume doesn't need to include every job you've ever had. So what jobs should you include? Learn more about which jobs belong on your resume and which ones you can leave in the past.

Understand the Purpose of the Job History

To better comprehend what jobs belong in your job history, you need to know the purpose of your resume. Your resume is a document that sells yourself. When you submit your resume, you don't sign an affidavit promising to provide a detailed account of your work history. Instead, you offer up a document that shows an employer what you have to offer.

Because the document is selling you, it should showcase your strengths. If you had jobs that are unrelated to the position or one that didn't end well, you might want to leave it off your resume.

You can include the parts that highlight your strengths, and leave jobs off your resume if you feel that don't add anything to your skill set. But you still should be honest about the dates of employment. If excluding a job creates a gap in your resume, you will need to explain it. At that point, you may have to tell the hiring manager why you chose to leave the job off your resume.

Your First Impression

Deciding which jobs to include is not something to take lightly. Your resume is your first impression on a hiring manager. Usually, they don't see your face or hear your voice until after they review your resume. A manager forms an opinion of you based on what you choose to include in your resume.

For this reason, your job history isn't something to take lightly. There's a lot riding on your resume. You need to weigh the consequences and decide whether it's smarter to exclude a job and explain the gap later, or include it and risk not getting an interview.

A Summary of Your Relevant Experience

Put simply, your resume is a summary of experience most related to the job listing. Although you spent two years working in sales, your experience might not help you get a position as a computer programmer. If you have more relevant experience, those jobs take priority.

Keep in mind that relevance is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, a job in sales develops people skills, leadership, and communication. While it might not directly relate to your desired position, the experience may be worth including on your resume.

When to Include a Job

If you're still unsure which jobs to include, there are a few guidelines that might help. Avoid leaving off jobs that meet any of the following criteria:

Long-Term Position

Excluding a long-term position from your resume will set off red flags. Unlike other experiences, a long-term position is difficult to hide. By excluding the job from your resume, you leave a large gap. And you can be certain a hiring manager will want an explanation. Eventually, you will need to explain why you chose to omit the position.

You Lack Relevant Experience

If you're a college graduate or new to a career, you probably don't have much relevant experience. And there's nothing wrong with that. Often, you can make up for directly related experience by explaining how you developed your skills in an unrelated job. Instead of only having one job listed in your job history, include at least three.

You Need Security Clearance

In some cases, a job might require an extensive background check or a security clearance. Honesty is key for these jobs, so give a detailed account of your job history.

You Had a Successful Experience

If you surpassed expectations or had notable accomplishments in one position, you shouldn't leave it off your resume. Your achievements are an asset, and it's important for the hiring manager to know about them.

When Should You Exclude a Job?

Of course, there are times you may want to leave off a job from your resume. Under any of the following circumstances, you should consider leaving these jobs out of your resume.

Short-Term Position

When you work at a company for three months or less, you don't need to include it. As long as you have enough other experience, the short-term job won't add anything to your resume. If anything, it could hurt you. Generally, hiring managers look at short stints in employment as a detriment. Even if you have a good reason for the short employment period, the experience won't leave a favorable impression until you can explain your resume in-person or over the phone.

Distant Jobs

Some people make the mistake of including every job they've ever had on their resume. This is a mistake and could cause the hiring manager to ignore your relevant positions. Rather than include everything on your resume, leave out jobs from over a decade ago. Unless the position was particularly relevant to the new job or you don't have enough other positions, leave your jobs from the past in the past.

You Had a Toxic Experience

Not all work experiences are positive experiences. If you had a toxic employer or worked for a company that has a bad reputation, you don't need to include it on your resume. Despite your innocence, a hiring manager could see your employment there as a black mark on your record.

You Were Fired

This one is debatable. On your resume, you're under no obligation to explain why you left a position. Therefore, you don't necessarily need to omit it from your resume. However, there's a good chance a hiring manager will ask you about the position. They might ask why you left, and this puts you in an awkward position. To avoid discussing your reasons for leaving, you can completely omit the job from your resume.

Still Confused

If you're still uncertain how to pick jobs for your resume, don't fret. You can always seek advice from a friend, mentor, or colleague. When all else fails, hire a professional to help you with your resume.

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