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Should I leave irrelevant jobs out of my CV, Linkedin, job board profiles, and/or application forms, even if that takes 8 years off the start of my work history and implies I am much younger?

To explain, I am a high school dropout. I got my bachelor's degree in my mid-20s, by distance learning. While studying it I was able to change careers into a field related to the degree, where I am working now. The jobs I did beforehand are in a different field, unrelated to anything I'm doing now or would be interested in doing again, and they are very junior with no achievements to speak of. Basically just clutter and a waste of time.

However, leaving them out gives me a profile that suggests I am still a 20-something, when really I am 34. It also avoids mentioning the three years from age 19 to 21 when I was mostly unemployed, except for a couple of very short jobs. Would doing so come across as dishonest?

  • How far back can you go with relevant work experience? You're 34, it's not that far from 20-something. – user8365 Feb 22 '15 at 18:54
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    You can add a catch all like "1980-1988 Various positions related to underwater basket weaving. Details available on request." – Eric Feb 22 '15 at 23:42
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    I normally only put the last 5 years work experience / 3 positions which ever is longer. By only including the last 5 years of history that takes you back to 29 which is after your mid 20's and your graduation from your degree program. I have only once had some one ask me for more and it was a federal requirement (US). – RubberChickenLeader Feb 23 '15 at 17:55
  • Most people skip anything over ten years as irrelevant. At my age if I put all of those old jobs from 30 years ago on my resume I look like a geezer. And does it matter that I was a sewer planner in my early 20's when I am a database person now? – HLGEM Feb 23 '15 at 20:31
  • possible duplicate of How to mitigate the negative effect of quitting college in my CV? – gnat Apr 2 '15 at 10:59
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Your resume is your sales brochure. While you shouldn't tell any untruths, there is no need for it to give every piece of information you have. If you don't think listing something you did would help you, then don't put it on.

If that leaves a gap in your employment record, you are going to have to account for that at some stage. A thorough recruiter will ask what you were doing in that time, and you should answer honestly, but the time for that is in an interview. However the jobs you describe don't sound like they would help you at all. This is true especially if they were done before you got your primary qualification in your current field. Nobody will assume that you are trying to hide a criminal record or anything like that.

  • But as a hiring manager, would you have a WTF!? moment if the candidate you invited to interview turned out to be about a decade older than you expected? – user32803 Feb 23 '15 at 18:55
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    @ben386 Not really. People omit stuff from their resumes all the time. It's supposed to be fairly short, show me you have the experience I need and any skills you might have that'll be beneficial. Anything that doesn't have value to me is wasted space on your resume. (odds are I might ask about it, but explaining "I changed career paths" or "I worked in an unrelated field" is fair enough) – RualStorge Feb 23 '15 at 21:03
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I think that you should have an "additional work experience" section in your CV, where you can list additional positions and smaller jobs that contributed to your professional development. Warehouses, fast foods, call center... everything will contribute to showing that you worked hard to get where you are and that makes you a responsible person by itself. Before that, in the "work experience" section you can list the relevant work experience. Gaps will be explained in the "additional" section. At the interview you will be able to explain what happened in your life to cause career stops or gaps.

2

If you have a degree, your status as a "high school dropout" is irrelevant, just as nobody begrudges the former CEO of Microsoft for being a university dropout. And many people start careers late because it is a second career, or that it took them a while to find the first career. And when I was a hiring manager for a software development team, I mostly didn't care about what people did more than 8 years ago, no matter how old or experienced they were, or whether they were flipping burgers or working in rocket science (I saw both).

All of my high-school and university jobs are not on my resume. And a couple of failed career tangents, and a couple of really bad tech jobs are not there either. My resume has gaps, because I was let go a lot. Why? Number one reason.....start-ups run out of money, and fire people to control costs. Number 2 reason? We have had 2 major multi-year tech recessions since the year 2000. (2002-2004, and 2008-2010). Number 3 reason? My skills didn't match the market demand for a while.

People will have gaps. There is no shame in having a gap. And in spite of gaps, I kept getting hired back. You will too.

Your resume is you telling your future manager a story of how your past performance is going to predict how well you'll work for him. What you did more than 8 years ago is usually irrelevant. And if there are big gaps, don't list them, but be prepared to confidently declare what you did and how it helped you.

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Leave the graduation year off your CV. That will solve the problem of the possibility of HR extrapolating your age from your experience.

Once you've done that, just put the relevant work experience in. That is, excise all the stuff you did that is in a different field

Note that it is not "dishonest" to keep a CV short, hiring managers like that.

Given your age, nobody will care what you were really up to when you were 19-25 anyway.

  • any reason for the dv? – bharal Feb 22 '15 at 17:50
  • Didn't DV, but most likely because the OP didn't say anything about his graduation year. If the OP has in fact graduated, then leaving it off the CV is dishonest. – Brian Feb 23 '15 at 14:50
  • Graduation year is an important piece of information for the employer. It shows whether you've had relevant work experience after graduation, or if you're fresh off the bench. – Alec Apr 1 '15 at 23:10
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You should be proud of these jobs. they represent an indicator that you are militant, combatant and defying all difficulties to reach your goal.
you dont have to list these jobs in detail. just saying "Handicraft Job while studying" is a good point and indicator that you are self-motivated, hard-worker and eager to learn

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I strongly recommend that your CV includes your complete work and educational history. The old stuff can be very short but it should be there. Otherwise it looks like you have something to hide. If I see any gap in a CV I always ask about it. "I took two years off trying to bike around the world" is a perfectly good gap. "I took two years off and it's none or your business" is not. In this case I have to assume that you did something that was ethically or morally questionable, just to be safe.

The notion that you can hide your age from a potential employer is idiotic. Of course they can and will find out. It's like you gender: it is what it is and it's illegal to discriminate because of it, but you really can't hide it.

  • It's entirely appropriate that an interviewer asks about a resume gap, and they mostly will. But that doesn't mean there was any disadvantage to having the gap in the first place. – DJClayworth Feb 22 '15 at 17:36
  • I think more experienced workers can show the last 10-12 years of relevant work experience without it looking like a gap or something to hide. At that point, no one cares about the part-time jobs you had in college. – user8365 Feb 22 '15 at 18:53
  • I don't want to hide my age. My motivation for asking this question is quite the opposite; how to explain my age without using up the majority of my CV page space on irrelevant jobs. – user32803 Feb 23 '15 at 19:01

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