I've got 10 years of experience as a software engineer contractor. Before that I happened to receive Masters of Medicine in a mediocre eastern Europe university. And before that I was repairing cars for 5 years (14 to 19 y.o.) with some notable achievements.

I never applied for full-time jobs and never wrote a formal CV.

I moved to the US recently. Now I'm aiming for a senior software engineer position in one of the top big tech companies.

I wonder if I should mention my education and the non-software-engineering work experience.

  • 3
    are you qualified as a mechanic, panel beater or whatever you were doing?
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 0:58

3 Answers 3


I wonder if I should mention my education and the non-software-engineering work experience.

Education - yes.

Non-relevant teenage work experience - no.

  • 10
    Exception: if the company you apply as a Software Engineer for happens to be a field related to Medicine or Mechanics, then it's worth putting extra emphasis on the experience. Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 15:57
  • 2
    Generally teenage experience, unless extremely relevant, should be either left off after your first few years of real work or reduced to a phrase in the "other interests" section if there's room for one on the page.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 20:22

No. A resume has limited space and it should be used for the most important things that make you suitable for the job. For a senior software engineer, I would expect things like:

  • Knowledge of languages/frameworks that are relevant for my team
  • Experience in junior or senior software engineering jobs
  • Software projects similar to what we work on

The car stuff is only relevant if you're applying to a company that builds cars or tools for car mechanics. The medical degree is only relevant (beyond the one line in the "education" section at the bottom) if you are applying to a biomedical services or research company.


TL;DR Don’t leave things off if it will create a gap (including a gap between your education and first job).

A large gap on your resume (including a large unexplained gap between education and first job) is far worse than non-applicable experience, so I would never remove something just because it doesn’t apply to the position you’re seeking.

That said as a rule of thumb I believe you only need to include the last ten years of professional experience (good to double-check this—career seeking advice changes over time), and your “non-applicable experience” is outside of this window so you’re good to omit it.

But if this weren’t the case, I would strongly recommend keeping it on your resume. It can mean the difference between getting an interview and getting summarily rejected based on your resume alone.

The reason gaps are so bad is that hiring managers only have your resume and somewhere between 1-6 hours of interaction with you to decide whether to hire you, a commitment that is costly for the company, and risky if you turn out to be a bad hire—risky in terms of both cost and legal risks. It’s far preferable to not hire someone who’s a bad fit than to hire and later fire them.

So hiring managers have to do all they can to limit the risk to the company and that means being very selective in the hiring process. Anything that could possibly be a negative on your resume (and a big question mark like a long unexplained gap is exactly that) means it’s time to pass on your resume and interview the dozen other candidates who’s resumes didn’t raise any red flags. It sucks, but it’s reality.

So don’t add unnecessary red flags to your resume like false gaps due to leaving a job off your resume.

  • Actually, nobody really cares about your gap from 10+ years ago... Heck, I personally wouldn't care about gaps from before your current job.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 2:57
  • Everyone is different, but there are hiring managers who do care, meaning potentially creating unneeded gaps on your resume means risking missing out on a job for no reason.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 4:44
  • And the gap from 10+ years ago could definitely matter. It could signal an addiction for example resulting in a period of unemployment. Or all kinds of things. Or nothing at all. The key is you really don’t want to give the hiring manager opportunities to imagine bad scenarios, because that uncertainty makes you as a risk to the hiring company and sends your resume into the trash can. Again not all HMs will do this but many will. Why knock yourself out of those positions?
    – bob
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 4:49

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