When you're putting together your resume, it can be tempting to list every job you've ever had. But is this really necessary? More importantly, will doing this help or hurt your chances of getting the job? In this article, we'll look at what really needs to be on your resume, and what to do if you were fired, or had short-term positions.
Additionally, we’ll cover when it's okay to leave a job off your resume - and when it's imperative to list each job. We'll also give you some tips on how to choose which jobs to include. Be sure to read this article before hitting "Submit" to upload your resume.
Listing all jobs on your resume - yay or nay?
Just to start with, I want to dispel you of the notion that you have to list out each and every single job. A resume is not an exhaustive list of every job that you've ever had, it's meant to be a summary of the relevant job experience and skills you possess.
So, which jobs should you include?
- All your recent jobs (in the last ten years) — with some exceptions (like short-term jobs, discussed below)
- All jobs you have had that is relevant to the job you're applying to
For example, if you’re applying for a position in which the job responsibilities include coaching softball, and you were an assistant coach at a college while attending school, this information is relevant to the job. This applies, even if it was quite a while ago. However, for jobs unrelated to the type you are seeking, you don't need to go back more than ten to fifteen years — but let's dive into this further.
Which jobs should you leave off of your resume?
Here’s a checklist of things to consider when deciding whether or not you should include a job on your resume. Here are jobs you should consider leaving off your resume:
- It’s not relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, if you’re interested in a receptionist job, your baking experience isn’t relevant.
- It was 10+ years ago, and less relevant than your other experiences. Reason being, hiring managers don’t care too much about old jobs (10+ years ago), unless they were somewhat relevant to the job you’re applying to. Use your own judgement.
- Short-term jobs, particularly jobs you were left or were fired from <6 months (more on this next)
You don't always need to leave it off entirely. You can keep things short on your resume instead.
If one of your jobs was 10+ years ago, and has some relevant skills, include it but keep your experience short. For example, just include the job titles, with a maximum of 1-2 bullet points under it.
Here's an example from an older worker's resume — these are roles they did 20-25 years ago, and we just include the job titles.
If you were at a job for less than 6 months
Now that you know which jobs to include, it's time to think about which jobs you should leave off. It's okay (and sometimes even necessary) to leave a job off of your resume. For example, if you were fired from a position, or if it was a short-term job that lasted for less than six months, then it's probably not worth including.
The rationale for omitting short-term employment is, if you held a job for less than six months, there was unlikely to have been time to achieve significant accomplishments. However, if you held a few similar short-term jobs, you might be able to consolidate them under a single heading, such as "Sales Experience" or "Telemarketing Experience". It's a smart move to avoid looking like a job-hopper on your resume.
Don’t discount skills you gained
Just because you were at a job for a short time doesn’t mean that you didn’t gain any skills. Be sure to include relevant experiences and skills that you gained from all jobs you’ve held. If you’re having trouble working your “soft skills” into your resume, this article from Resume Worded can help.
Find out if you've chosen the right work experience for your resume
If you're unsure how effective your jobs/experiences are on your resume, upload it to the tool below. It'll analyze every job on your resume and suggest which ones to remove or improve.
If You Were Fired for Cause, Here's What You Should Do
Were you fired for a good reason? You should avoid listing these positions on your resume. It's simple if it was a short-term position. However, if you stayed there for more than six months, this is a tough decision. You must decide if a gap on your resume is preferable to including a job from which you were dismissed for cause.
Depending on the job that you are applying for, it might be a requirement to list each job. This is most often the case when filling out a job application, and when applying for jobs in government.
Do You Need to List All Jobs on a Job Application?
Just so we are on the same page, the difference between a job application and a resume is simple. A resume is a document that lists your experience and skills, including your education and achievements. A job application is a form that a company uses to apply for a position. It will contain spaces to describe each position you've held and the dates you worked.
Filling out a job application is different than submitting a resume. With a resume, you are summarizing your skills and experience. Alternately, with a job application, you are providing information about each position that you’ve held.
Each application is a little different, depending on the industry. It's pretty standard on applications to request the name of the company, dates of employment, and your supervisor's name and number. Most job applications request your full work history, so it's important that you not omit any jobs. A background check is performed on many positions, and if a "surprise" job appears in your record, it can be grounds for termination.
Discussing Past Jobs in Interviews
You got an interview, congrats - you made an awesome resume! When discussing your resume in an interview it’s important to be honest. If the interviewer asks explicitly about additional jobs not on your resume, tell the truth. The interviewer might ask why you left a job off, simply explain it was a short-term job or it was an unrelated industry.
However, if you were let go for cause, you need to let the interviewer know. Provide a simple response. Avoid exaggerating and making excuses. Honesty is the way to go; if an earlier termination comes up later, it can lead to dismissal.
Creating Resumes for the Inexperienced (Students, Recent Graduates, Career Changers)
If you’ve only had a few jobs in the past, you should list every job, whether or not they were short-term positions or not in a related industry. This demonstrates that you have skills. If you think creatively, you can list them in a way that can be applied across multiple industries.
For example, if you have worked as a server at a restaurant, and are applying for a retail position, you could list "Customer Service Experience" on your resume. It can be difficult if you've only had one job. Check out this article to learn how to create a resume if you are lacking in previous job experience.
Targeted Resumes for the Win
Being a job-seeker without a lot of experience can be difficult. Creating a targeted resume for the job you are seeking can really elevate you. Resume Worded has a tool that you can use to create your own targeted resume. Be sure to give it a try.
You should also try to include skills and keywords relevant to the job you’re applying for. Use the skills search tool below to find the right ones.