One of the questions I’m asked frequently is whether a job seeker should include every job on their resume. You should provide a complete and honest picture of your background. For most job seekers, this means listing everything. There are a few exceptions. One significant exception is when a person makes a major shift in their career.
This week, I read the resume of a job seeker that had held an entry level admin position at the start of his career. He then joined the military. The candidate’s work experience prior to the military totaled less than a year. The candidate served in the military for twenty years and is now transitioning.
The admin experience prior to the military has no relationship to the progression within the military or the career objective the candidate is currently pursuing. It is also more than twenty years old. There is no reason to include the work experience prior to the military service on the resume. Omitting this information will not mislead an employer and will not change the impression the resume makes. It will make room for more relevant and important information.
Where do you draw the line?
An entry level admin position held for less than a year more than 20 years ago isn’t significant to a person’s career progression. Making this position more recent, a longer duration or related to the job seeker’s career field could make it important to include on the resume. The challenge is knowing when the position becomes significant and when it isn’t.
Generally, you should list any positions you have held in the last ten to twenty years. If you had a full-time position and a part-time position at the same time, you may omit the part-time role, especially if it is unrelated to your primary career.
An entry level position early in your career may be important to list even if it is twenty or more years ago if the position establishes the start to a career progression. Individuals that stay in the same career field, progressing upward to increasing levels of responsibility can show a consistent pattern of success through the promotions they have received. To do this, you need to show the starting point – an entry level position where you got your start.
In the case of the resume I read, the initial admin position had nothing to do with the military career. Omitting it wouldn’t detract from the career progression. The job seeker should show all of his military positions. This establishes the start of the career progression.
If you need help determining what to include in your resume, get help from a resume writer.