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Im touching up my resume and Ive got a question I cant seem to find an answer for online.

I have worked in IT for over 2 decades. My early career was software development and support focused, while my latter half is hardware focused.

I had been sending out resumes with the earlier jobs simply omitted. I simply did not include them, as they are not pertinent to my current career.

However, I was wondering if I should put something in place saying that the resume is truncated, in case a potential interviewer was wondering why 10 years of professional work was missing. Is there a phrase or wording that is standard in a truncated resume?

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Personally, I have little interest in what any potential employee was doing 10 years ago. There may be exceptions, but in general it's true. I wouldn't regard it as particularly anomalous if someone didn't list experience from 10+ years ago, but equally you could put a one liner similar to

1998-2008 Various jobs, software development and support

if you want something to fill the space. Always consider if that line could instead be used for something which sells your skills though.

  • 2
    Right. Something like: "98-08 Senior software engineer in the Aerospace field" – Fattie Dec 15 '18 at 12:40
  • You might also have to weigh between the advantage of showing you have 10+ years of experience and potential age discrimination. – Llewellyn Dec 15 '18 at 12:50
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    I agree with what you are saying. I upvoted as I am still wondering if there is a standardized way of doing this. – Keltari Dec 16 '18 at 0:25
  • well no other worthwhile answers here. just like Connor MacLeod, you win the Prize. – Keltari Dec 19 '18 at 8:07
  • @Keltari I would additionally include the line "details available on request". – Eric Dec 22 '18 at 17:37
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+100

You need to balance two competing factors when truncating a resume:

  • There are timeless elements to any experience you've had in life. I learned things washing dishes in a pizza kitchen as a 14 year old that still matter today in my career decades later.

  • Of course, when writing a resume, you want to focus on the opportunity to sell yourself for the position you're applying for. You don't want to ramble on about dishwashing as a teen when you're applying for a software development job 20 years later.

How do you balance those two things?

Firstly, my pizza kitchen job is an extreme example - but, that said, generally I don't like to see resume truncation that leaves out relevant professional positions. In your example, I would not leave those first 10 years completely out - the gap would look odd, and there's value in showing those positions, even if the direct skills are not relevant.

Dishwashing taught me basic work ethics and how to coordinate with a team. It also taught me that I didn't want to be a dishwasher for the rest of my life! I'm sure that software development and support work taught you important basic foundational elements that are still useful now that you're in to hardware. It also presumably taught you that you wanted to make a shift.

Of course, you don't want to include a ton of irrelevant detail, but putting a basic line item on your resume gives you a hook to explain more deeply as appropriate. Let's say you're interviewing for that dream hardware job, and they ask a question about how you see your career path progressing, or why you like the work you do, or some other typical "soft" question like that. Having the software positions on your resume lets you say, "well, back in the day I did this, and that made me realize X, so now I'm going in this direction."

Another important point - anyone who's been in tech for any length of time knows that trends come and go. This is true for skills, too. The "hot" platform or knowledge being sought after today may be different in 5 years. So, when hiring, I enjoy it when someone shows that they can adapt over time versus just showing off whatever key word is hot right now. In other words, including older positions - even if the skills are no longer relevant - gives you the chance to show that you can learn new things and grow over time which is more valuable in the long run than someone who's just presented as an expert in one thing.

So - in conclusion - I would definitely include those positions, but I would keep them brief. A one-sentence position description would be appropriate. Focus the bulk of your writing on the more recent, more relevant positions, but include the old ones as they're still a valuable part of your story.

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I like the answer that have been given, but i want to add something else that i do myself. In cases like yours, is very important to have your history, background and all the data that might be relevant but you don't put in your resume. A good Linkedin profile is the easiest way to do that, but you could also have a personal webpage as a "big extended resume", so if recruiters are interested in knowing you better, they can go there.

In your resume, you put your most relevant work history, but also you should provide in the resume or in the email with the application something like

To know more about me, my experience and my knowledge, i suggest you to visit my Linkedin profile: -link to profile - and my personal webpage - link to personal webpage-

It worked well for me and i think it says something about you: that you can focus on what's relevant to them for this moment, but also providing more options.

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You're only including your most relevant work. Be specific about what matters and be ambiguous about the rest. Don't remove info that makes you look good.

A shortened resume doesn't usually exist, unless you did an embarrassing or regrettable job then you wouldn't state it at all. But in your case the jobs you did make it sound like you are versatile and that you have a long history in IT.

  • You say to only include the most recent work, but then you also say that shortened resumes don't usually exist, implying that the OP should include everything. Which do you mean? – David K Dec 17 '18 at 13:21

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