Should You List Experience That’s Not Relevant on Your Resume?

In the past, many people stayed in one career, whether it was their dream job or not, throughout their working lives. However, this is not the case anymore.

Nowadays, with more widely accessible education and career opportunities, it is not uncommon for people to change jobs and even careers every few years. Many of these career changers are concerned that listing dissimilar work experience on their resume can hurt their potential job prospects.

Is this the case though? There are two camps of thought on this:

Less is more:

Some career experts believe that less is more, and this rule applies to the information you choose to put on your resume. They think that it is important to keep your resume simple and clear, and the more irrelevant information you put on your resume, the more it dilutes your key message. They believe that prospective employers are not interested in skills and achievements that are not applicable to the position they are hiring.

For example, if you are applying for a job in sales, telling your prospective employer that you have helped develop a database to track supplies is nice, but irrelevant.

More is more:

The other camp of career experts has opposite opinion when it comes to listing irrelevant experience on your resume. These career experts believe that certain experiences may seem irrelevant to the job you are applying for, but they are still important and should be included on your resume.

These experiences may demonstrate to your prospective employers that you possess valuable skills, such as good problem solving and communication skills that will benefit you in any career. Despite the difference between your previous jobs and the current position you are applying for, these qualities are universal. If you can demonstrate these all-encompassing skills, you will definitely impress your prospective employer, regardless of what your past experience is.

In addition, these career experts think that it is better to include some non-work related experiences, such as volunteer work and even hobbies, than having extended gaps in your resume.

Get the best of both camps:

Since many of your previous jobs have required different skills, it is a good idea to group the most relevant skills in a subsection titled “Relevant Experience” on your resume. You can put this subsection at the top of your resume and use it to highlight skills and achievements that are most applicable to the position you are applying for.

By putting this subsection at the top of your resume, you can rest assure that it will catch your prospective employer’s attention. You are then free to list any further experience you would like to include further down your resume without it taking the attention off of your most relevant experience for that particular role.

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