Many job seekers ask “Do I need to put all past work experience on a resume?” The answer is….no. You do not need to include all of your past work experience on a resume.
The main purpose of a resume is to show that you’re qualified for the particular position you’re applying to, not to provide an overview of your entire work history. We will show you situations where you can safely leave some of your work experience off of your resume.
Do you have to include every job on your resume?
There is no requirement or rule that says you have to include all of your past work experience on a resume. Including every job on your resume could also do more harm than good in certain situations. Let’s go through situations where you do not need to include a particular job on a resume:
1. Short-Term Employment
If you were employed for less than six months, it’s sometimes better to leave that job off your resume.
Because short-term employment is usually a red flag to hiring managers. They may think that you were either fired for poor performance, or that you’re a job hopper, which isn’t a good impression to make on a potential employer.
When should you include short-term employment?
You could include short-term employment if you were not let go for poor performance and gained experience/skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. You may want to include the reason for this short term employment on your cover letter.
Read also: how to write a cover letter.
“My most recent position at XYZ corp was cut short due to the company shutting down. I was, however, able to reduce overhead expenses by 14% and…”
Jobs held for 1 month to 3 months
Including a position you were employed at for a month to three months should almost never be listed on your resume unless it was a contract position. We wrote a post here on including contract work on a resume.
2. Experience from over 15 years ago
A hiring manager won’t really care what you did more than 10 to 15 years ago. At some point, it just becomes unnecessary and it’s better left off your resume. Usually, you can incorporate the skills you gained in more recent work experience.
Unfortunately, age discrimination does happen and could have a negative impact on your job search. If your resume goes back past 20 or 30 years, you risk being seen as over qualified, under-skilled, or too expensive for the job you’re applying for.
Your resume is only looked at for a few seconds so you want to ensure your resume is clear and concise. Irrelevant information will usually result in your resume being rejected.
We wrote a good post here with more information on how many years of work experience to include on a resume.
Submitting a resume with a ton of irrelevant experience won’t land you interviews. You can leave off older positions that are not relevant to the position you’re targeting. If most of your experience is irrelevant or if you’re making a career change, then a hybrid resume format may be more effective.
This allows you to focus on relevant skills and education rather than your work history.
Here is an example of a hybrid resume:
You don’t need to include all of your work history on a resume. Having many short-term jobs or irrelevant experience will land you very little interviews. The hiring manager reviewing your resume isn’t looking to see if you included all of your jobs, they’re looking to see if you have the right skills and experience to get the job done. Remember to focus on the skills and experience that show you’re a good fit for the position.
Readability and relevance are the two most important factors for your resume. To make sure your resume will pass an ATS scan, try our free resume review tool.