December 4, 2019

Leaving Past Jobs Off Your Resume: Risky or Not?

by Scot Dickerson

Is it okay to leave jobs off your resume?

Your resume is not a legal document and you are under no obligation to list every job you’ve ever had. 

Your resume is a strategic marketing piece. The purpose of your resume is to demonstrate to the reader the value you bring to their company and the position in question. You can include the parts that highlight your strengths, and leave jobs off your resume if you feel that don’t add any weight to it.

Keep in mind, however, that a hiring leader wants to see your career progression– where you’ve been and when. Omitting a company could leave an unexplained gap on your resume. You need to be able to explain gaps and why you decided to not include a job on your resume. But also consider the potential employer may discover that you omitted a job during a pre-employment screening.

So it’s important to weigh all this very carefully. Consider omitting a job from your resume if:

  • It was a short-term position. If you had a job for a few months or less, the experience isn’t relevant to the position you are applying for, and you’re not short of work experience overall, it probably isn’t necessary to include the job.
  • The job was in the distant past. Employers are generally only interested in the last ten years of your work history. If your recent positions contain consecutive, relevant positions, employers will not be concerned about jobs in the distant past. They may add no weight to your resume. 

Again, your resume is a strategic marketing piece. Think carefully about every decision you make when creating your resume. As a rule of thumb, if it’s relevant, include it.  If it creates value, include it. Don’t hide things by excluding them. But if it is not relevant and can be covered in an interview setting, then by all means feel free to not include. But it has to make sense to do so!

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