Is Your Resume Filled with Skeletons?

Halloween is just around the corner, a time of ghosts and dancing skeletons. Monsters and spirits are great for a haunted house. They don’t work for resumes, however. Don’t let your work history get haunted. Prevent your resume from getting filled with the skeletons of old jobs no one cares about. Instead, dig them up and get rid of them. 

You only have a brief window to impress HR managers. Some studies indicate that the average resume gets just six seconds of attention. You don’t want to waste any of that precious time on irrelevant information.  

But what’s the harm? Even if old information is irrelevant, it just becomes extra, right? Not quite. Outdated details just drown out your more relevant experience. You bury your best traits under meaningless bullet points.  

Including too many antiquated job histories turns reading your resume into a graveyard. That’s not going to help you land your ideal position.  

When to Drop Something from Your Work History 

Ever hear the phrase “what have you done for us lately?” If so, you may have been talking to an HR manager. Employers don’t want to know about positions you held way back when. They are interested in recent experience.  

But what constitutes irrelevant experience? The broadest test is just to look at the raw age. More than 10 years old, definitely leave the work experience off your resume. Depending on the situation, look closely at positions you held five-to-ten years ago. 

However, there are some subtleties to keep in mind as well.

Here are some more specific rules to apply as you look to exorcise the skeletons from your resume: 

Out of Date Technology 

Technology evolves quickly. A few years might be enough time to make tech competencies irrelevant. As software and operating techniques become old-fashioned, look to remove them from your resume.  

Irrelevant Experience 

You should customize your resume to the particular job at hand. As such, some information that is crucial for applying to one type of position may represent a complete irrelevancy for another. As you look to optimize your work history for a specific role, look to trim any positions that don’t bolster your case for that unique situation. 

Redundant Short-Term Positions  

At certain times during your career, you might bounce around a lot. Or you might find yourself working numerous part-time or contract positions at once. These jobs, while nominally separate, likely leverage the same skills. Don’t overwhelm employers with redundant information. Focus on the best examples of your work and cut anything else. 

Jobs with Questionable Companies 

Sometimes you have to take whatever position you can. There’s no shame in that. However, if you find yourself working for a sketchy company, it might be best to leave that info off your resume. You don’t want to be associated with organizations that have a bad reputation in the industry. 

When to Bring Out Those Skeletons 

As a general rule, you want to rotate line items off your resume as the positions start to age. However, sometimes you want to keep an older position on your work history. Here are a few exceptions you should keep in mind: 

Don’t Create a Gap 

Having a gap in your resume can raise a red flag. Even if a position is irrelevant to the job you’re applying for, keep it on your resume if it bridges a meaningful span of time. Better to have the experience listed than create a different kind of concern by having a hole in your career profile. 

It’s Your Only Relevant Experience 

Questionable companies or short-lived positions might represent your only relevant experience for a particular skill listed in the job description. In that case, it’s necessary for getting by the first-glance test. For these situations, feel free to leave the bullet points on your resume. 

It Represents Your Biggest Success 

Your biggest success might have taken place a while ago. In that case, it might be worth leaving on your resume. You might think this resembles a 40-year-old bragging about winning the big game in high school. Maybe. But better to mention the big game than not has any meaningful victories at all. 

Scoring the perfect job requires that you put your best foot forward at every step of the process. With the expert advice offered by a top-ranked staffing agency, like SmartTalent, you can maximize your chances. 

Contact SmartTalent today to learn more. 

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