“To include the high school car wash cashier job, or not to include the high school car wash cashier job?”
This question (and others like it) is one that’s asked a lot. Basically, the larger concern people are getting at is whether there is some limit to what you should include in your job history before it starts to get a bit superfluous. I think this is a more nuanced question than it may seem, and I would say it’s important to take an honest inventory of your personal work history, the amount of space you have on your resume, and to take things from there.
I think the first question about this is how far back your work history goes? The opening line about the car wash cashier job is a joke, but it is also something people do find themselves wondering about when it comes time to polish resumes. This one may be most easily answered simply by how long you’ve been working and how many jobs you’ve had. If you’re a few years into your professional life and your resume is dotted with plenty of accolades, degrees, and relevant positions, it may well be time to lop that part time job off the bottom of the page. It doesn’t mean that job wasn’t important or formative, and it doesn’t mean you have to avoid talking about it or anything, it’s simply adding up the ones and the zeroes and seeing that your oldest job from when you had the least experience probably does not have the biggest and most specific influence on your skills in the field in which you are currently working.
That said, if you are just entering the work force, go ahead and keep that job on there! If you are applying for a job fresh out of college, trade school, high school, or wherever, a little bit more of a detailed work history to go along with your educational experience might do quite a bit to set you apart.
These first two scenarios are based on the pretty large assumption that whatever your first job is, or an early job, is unrelated to whatever positions you’ll be applying to further along in your professional life. That assumption may not be true for some people. Some people reading this may have early work experience that landed them exactly in their current field, and if that’s the case, you bet you should put that in there in your functional resume. Interviewers love dedicated candidates as much as they like experienced candidates, and guess what: knowing what you’ve wanted to do for a long time probably makes you both!
These are just a few possibilities for how you can examine your own work history. I know it isn’t black and white, but keep this in mind, when making decisions to keep an experience in your resume or not, ask yourself, “Is this relevant to my current job search?” And if yes, keep it in there.