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I'm applying to a customer service position and organizing my cover letter and resume in the process of doing so. My resume currently contains about 5 years of steady employment history. Unfortunately, my last direct customer service job (one that would showcase answering phones/using Point of Sale software) was shortly out of high school and is on the far side of a year of bouncing between jobs every few months.

Is it going to generally be better for me to include the customer service experience and leave a 1-year gap, include the customer service experience and fill in the series of jobs I went through, or leave the customer service experience off entirely? If I leave the customer service experience off my resume, is it a poor choice to mention it in my Cover Letter?

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On a resume, you are usually free to not show all work experience. Since it's been a while, you may even opt for an alternative format, such as a functional resume, instead of a chronological resume. The purpose of a resume is to highlight your education, experience, and skills that are relevant to the position that you are applying to. You tend to have a lot of freedom - you can drop positions, or minimize (or even remove) the descriptions of positions that may not be relevant. However, if you mention something on the cover letter, you should probably include at least a mention of the position on the resume.

In some cases, though, you shouldn't drop jobs. Job application forms or any form that may be associated with a background check may ask you to list all previous jobs (perhaps within a time window). CVs are also expected to be comprehensive than a resume, so you should include the details of all of your jobs. Be more comprehensive in these forms.

  • @JoeStrazzere It may be OK to ask questions, but assuming that the candidate is trying to hide something seems wrong. I've always been taught that a functional resume is well-suited for a career change, and I'm hoping that would be an acceptable answer to you if you were to inquire about a candidate's choice of resume format. – Thomas Owens Dec 2 '16 at 17:51
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You did not indicate a country, maybe it's different where you live:

In Germany, do not leave a gap. Not ever. A gap means you are so ashamed of what you did you would not want anyone to know. HR will assume you were on drug rehab, served a prison sentence, joined a religious cult or something equally awful.

There is no reason to go into detail though. If you did various part-time jobs that are not relevant, just write "various part-time jobs". Or maybe there is an accepted form of resume that is not chronological. But don't leave a gap in a chronological order. That's a sure way to either get sorted out before an interview, or grilled about it in the interview. And you don't want either.

  • @JoeStrazzere It does where I live. No need to downvote me based on your locale's understanding of gaps in the chronological order. There was no country given and I explicitly said that it might be different where he lives. – nvoigt Dec 2 '16 at 18:42
  • Updated with my region. – nvoigt Dec 2 '16 at 20:07

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