Is shaving experience off your résumé a good idea?

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

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Just because you have enough work experience to cover three pages doesn't mean you need to include it all on your résumé. In fact, trimming your résumé to create a more targeted message about your skills and achievements can be a better way to land your next job. Most employers are interested in knowing only the most applicable ways your skills can help their organization, and a concise résumé is the first step. "It's vital to make sure the relevant information is at the forefront and easily viewed by the reader," says résumé expert Charlotte Weeks and founder of Weeks Career Services.

Not sure which experience to leave off your résumé? Here's what to consider:

Decades-old experience

Most hiring managers don't care what you did 20 years ago, unless it was something truly spectacular. As you revamp your résumé, be sure to focus on the last 10 years of your experience, with only a few mentions of previous achievements to provide breadth. But there's always a caveat: If the role you held 20 years ago is still essential to your experience and it won't make you appear overqualified, leave it in.

Appearing overqualified

Jam-packing your résumé with too much experience can hinder your chances of getting hired. Most recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates with just the right amount of experience. As a general rule, shave off experience "when you've been working a lot longer than the years required for the job," Weeks says.

Unrelated industry jobs

Once you've racked up enough experience, it's OK to skip the mention of your summer college job or a position you held in an unrelated industry. While leaving it on your résumé can demonstrate work ethic, it can also create a cluttered document that can confuse recruiters. As you gain more experience, most recruiters expect that irrelevant positions will no longer be listed on your résumé.

Short-term jobs

Even if it pertains to your field, there's typically no need to include a short-term position. For example, if you're applying for a marketing manager role and you held a three-month stint in a marketing department five years ago, feel free to take it off. The only instance where keeping a short position on your résumé is beneficial is if it is the only proof of industry experience.

Internships

When you're just starting out, your internships are everything. However, as you progress in your career, these internships should be replaced with a more solid employment history that includes more permanent positions.

Create different versions

As you whittle down your résumé, there's no need to think you need to make the same trims for every position, Weeks says. For each position, she suggests looking at the specific job positing to see what of your experience is most relevant. "See what requirements they're seeking, and make sure you include this information -- if you legitimately have it -- on your résumé," she says.

Condense work experience

Not sure how to fit in your most recent experience on your résumé? One trick is to condense other bullet points. The older the job, the less information you need to provide about your role and achievements, Weeks says.

As you build your résumé, it's important to take time to reassess the applicability of your experience. Since most résumés are one to two pages, it's important to constantly edit to keep only the most relevant parts of your experience. This can be difficult with a 20- or 30-year employment history, but it's often the only way to get hired.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter



Last Updated: 28/06/2011 - 3:08 PM


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