“Do I include the high school car wash cashier job? What about the internship in college?”
These questions (or some variation of it) are asked a lot. We want to showcase our diverse array of skills and experiences to make ourselves attractive to potential recruiters and hiring managers. At what point does the full list of every job we’ve ever worked become superfluous? Depending on where you’re at in your career, that answer varies.
Let’s start with – how far back does your work history go? If you have a work history that spans more than 15 years, you can start to slash the entry level stuff that doesn’t serve you anymore. Employers want an accurate depiction of what you bring to the table now – and the most recent experience in the field you’re applying for and your accomplishments in all professional settings are more than sufficient in this regard. You can still be proud for being named employee of the month at the Dairy Barn when you were 17, but it’s time to retire that accolade to an anecdote you bring up in the interview.
Next, consider the added layer of context. Yes, you started off as a cashier at the car wash, but were hand selected to join in their corporate training program. If you were given additional training in management styles, or Six Sigma business procedure, including this early position and the growth it cultivated might be a way to showcase your work ethic and desire to learn as a core character value, and can still have a place in your work history. You may have early work experience that help you land in your current field, and if that’s the case, you should put that in your resume. These kinds of positions you’ve grown with are great ways to gather character references – which would only reinforce your strong candidacy along with your resume.
If you’re further along in your career – you can also cherry pick your work experience to customize and tailor your resume to fit the position you’re applying for—a functional resume. In this case, you can certainly slash the earlier stuff. If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye just yet, and still want to show continuity of employment, a happy medium would be to include these earlier posts in a career summary and not devote a full bulleted item to that period.
Lastly, 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, including all pertinent work experience is an opportunity to show your drive and desire to build a career and a life you can be proud of, and employers will recognize that.
At the end of the day, there are multiple possibilities of how you might examine your own work history. It isn’t black and white, but a good rule of thumb when deciding to keep or slash an experience from your resume, ask yourself, “Is this relevant to my current job search?” And if the answer is yes, find a way to keep it in there.