It is not necessary to list every job you ever had on your resume. Your resume should consist of work, experience, education, and skills that make you the best candidate for the position you are applying for. This may or may not include leaving out jobs you would have had. Determining what to include is the trick. This article will look at guiding factors that can make this decision less tricky.
What to Include on Your Application
Firstly, it is important to understand the nature of the application. This means knowing exactly what information you must provide (outside of the usual name, address, work experience, soft and hard skills). If the position you are applying for only requires your resume, you have the freedom of choosing which jobs to include on your resume. As a guideline, your work experience should:
- Be relevant to the position you are applying for – Relevant, and more often, exact work experience will make you a better candidate for the position. It instantly communicates to recruiters that you are capable of doing the required tasks as advertised. If your years of experience outnumber the minimum years required per the application, you have leeway to pick and leave out jobs. In the end, focus on including those jobs that highlight your career in a positive and productive light. There is a chance that your resume will lack the necessary relevance. But do not be discouraged. Draw attention instead to your education and skills that would apply to the position. It is often best to back these claims up with examples of your skills or certificates of your education. But suppose you are changing careers and find yourself with years of experience unrelated to the position you are applying for. A recruiter’s interest will lean towards your references, years of work experience in that particular field, and, most importantly, your reason for switching fields. In either instance, recruiters who see promise in candidates that lack the relevant experience will find a way of assessing prospective candidate’s competence in the field.
- Work done in the past 10-15 years – A timeline expresses the history of your career and, by extension, the level at which you can perform tasks. An effective timeline differs depending on the years of experience you may have. For instance, people with 15 or more years of experience have the liberty of choosing which jobs to list, whereas someone with 5 years will list their longest periods of work. In either case, structuring your timeline with the most recent and long-term working relationships first reads well. It also clearly communicates your current capabilities well to prospective employers. Recent graduates will obviously lack years of experience. This can be filled in by listing standout undergraduate projects, volunteer work, side hustles, and job shadowing. It is not uncommon to list bartending, backup choir singer, or dressing up as Solid Snake for that one kid’s birthday party as work experience for people who are still starting with no career traction yet. This is still acceptable as the main idea is to show recruiters you have not been ideal. It shows that you are active in doing something for others or yourself. As you start gaining experience in your field, the option to omit jobs done during your high school or college years becomes available to you. If you are precious about how you started, you can add them to your description as summarized work. It is important to note that you should avoid having willful gaps in your resume. Most recruitment agents do background checks and will therefore be able to track your work history. Sometimes though, it is unavoidable that you have gaps in your resume. This could be because of health or a drastic change in economic conditions. If gaps are unavoidable or if you choose to have them in your resume, be prepared to explain them. A thorough background check will reveal your whole working life. It is best, to be honest when applying for positions that require trust. Coincidently, in cases where previous employers may have fallen from grace, you can get away with omitting that relationship. In all cases, be prepared to explain the nature of your working relationship. Instance in which it is advisable to list all your jobs are when:
- Applying for a security or defense position.
- The application forms provided by the recruiter require you to do so.
- Reflect skills that would be needed for the position you are applying for – Generally, when applying for jobs, the assumption is that skills you utilize at your current position will need to translate over to the job you are applying for. An example would be a junior landscape architect with the required years of experience and qualifications now applying for the position of a landscape architect. The same set of skills would translate to the new position. When listing jobs on your resume, make sure they are as relevant as possible to the position. Sometimes the true nature of the job gets lost in the title, e.g., director. A brief explanation can accompany the job you did. This is mostly applicable to people who are starting a career or while doing freelance work. Avoid long descriptions as recruiters will uncover this information in your interviews or while conducting reference checks. Pleading your case will make it harder in cases where you lack experience but claim to have the skills to do the work. In such instances, you will have to do more than just list jobs. You will have to attach links to your portfolio or places where prospective employers can see proof of your skill. This can be to your Facebook page, YouTube channel, or Github. Make sure that any links you attach will present you in the best light possible. Assume you have 5-10 seconds to impress the person who will click on it, in this case, the recruiters. That link should be attached to your sale’s pitch as the recruiter will be the client. If you have an opportunity to add links, add them.
- Consist of long-term positions you previously occupied – If you are starting and have had no real long-term positions, the long term for you would be 1 year. If you have been working for a while and have racked up the experience, the long term is more than 3 years for you. Regardless, listing the duration of your stay at a job is important. This varies from industry to industry. In theatre, a fast-paced, changing, dynamic industry, you would list the duration of a project and how long you stayed on, and what you were doing. In finance, on the other hand, which is much more stable and constant, you would list your job position and duration, which would not change very much (except for the odd promotion or change in a company). Your duration tells the recruiter about your work relationship. Whether you hop around from company to company or buckle down behind one desk for yours, it impacts the recruiters. The more years you stay in the industry, however, the less important it becomes to list every project, including where you began. These can be placed in the description or can be remembered as interview questions.
Sometimes an employment opportunity does not end well, or it is simply a means to an end. Nothing wrong with that. It is therefore understandable that you may want to leave out those jobs. In the case of dismissal for fraudulent behavior, however, there is no getting around being transparent.
Are jobs all that matter?
Keep in mind that a resume is a concise summary of your skill, competence, and ability to communicate. You may be the best candidate for the position, but if you are unable to communicate it, then it means nothing. A good format will improve your chances as much as having the relevant skills needed. When compiling your resume, look at different templates. Different industries will require different skills and, therefore, different ways to communicate that. Templates that focus on human interaction might differ from those that require project-based assessing, e.g., a psychologist from a mechanic.
Build on your interpersonal skills. Work does not teach you how to network, which is basically creating good working relations with your co-workers and the company. You will often hear about a person who got their job because of a prior recommendation. Recommendations and networking go a long way as this skill could potentially make any transition from one workplace to another easier. This does not mean that recruiters will overlook you if you are a fresh candidate. It just means your chances are somewhat more improved because you have a mutual reference.
Socializing may or may not be you’re your thing. One thing that should be your thing is your work. Do your work so well that your work ethic and quality speak for you. A resume can hollow if all you have are words. Be sure to have at least a project or two to show recruiters. This is especially true for people in software development or freelance creativity. Include links to your portfolio and solo projects. In cases where you show potential, be prepared to make a physical presentation of your skills. Depending on the outcome, this is sure to win your recruiters over.
What listing looks like?
Advice is great and all but seeing what we are talking about will help in understanding what to list and how to list it.
- Background Artist / 2017 – 2019 / Warner Bros
- Tutor / 2017 – 2018 / Double Brain
- Winner of 3D-digital Award / 2018
- Babysitter / 2014 – 2015
I have 3 years of experience in science lab worth duties extending to:
- Monitoring lab inventory
- Restocking lab
- Setting up a lab for experiments and cleaning up
- Taking notes of minutes during meetings
- Double-checking chemical measurements
Senior Game Developer
I have 17 years of experience developing award-winning games for PC and console platforms. These include Terraria, Mortal Kombat, and Ratchet, and Clank. I can help you create the game you envision, increasing your studio’s reputation and commercial success.
Procurement Specialist (2019-Present)
Sourced 10 year agreement with Poly Wools farm to supply us with 10 tons of wool per month. Reduced waste material by 35%. Increased production efficiency by 40%.
Warehouse Manager (2014 – 2018)
Delivery was 15% more efficient. Maintained storehouse. Facilitated deliveries and shipments to clients. Regulated staff shifts.
It is not easy knowing which jobs to put into a resume, especially when you have too much or too little going on. But let us look at a summary of what is important when listings jobs:
- Remembering what the purpose of a resume is. It summarizes the best version of your skills, experience, education, and working history.
- Whatever jobs you list on your resume should be relevant to the position you are applying for as possible.
- If you lack relevant experience, list jobs with skills that could carry over to the position you are applying for.
- Make sure your work history is clearly visible using a timeline
- Limit the number of jobs on your resume to the past 10-15 years
- If you have too many jobs, you are welcome to choose which to indicate
- Highlight career achievements in your personal description
- The goal with a timeline is to show recruiters you are busy and not ideal
- If you have gaps in your timeline, you may be asked to explain them in an interview
- If you lack the years needed for a job, draw emphasis to your skills and other odd jobs to boost your chances
- Do not leave out jobs if you are applying for a security position, if you have been convicted because of fraudulent behavior or if your application letter requires you to submit all your jobs
- List your longest-serving positions
- In cases where you lack experience, back up your skills by providing links to projects you have completed on your own or through collaboration
- Look at template examples that will best communicate what your resume needs
- Do not neglect to build interpersonal skills
- Make sure your work is unquestionable
Clearly, many tools make it easy to build a resume. And many more factors from a recruiter’s side that determine if yours will get selected. The simple thing to remember is that the best resume is one that sells you the best. With preparing for interviews and actually looking for jobs, you already have enough stressing you without having to think about how much is too much or too little.