the Early Parts of Your Career
On Your Resume
lot of resume books and resume writers will tell you that only your
latest experience is relevant, so you can leave the other parts of your
career off of your resume.
DON’T DO THIS!
early parts of your career actually are important, and sometimes
critical. Employers and recruiters do look at what you did early on –
and leaving off the early details can hurt you.
I was just thinking of a couple of
searches I’ve worked on recently, and of how I’ve distinguished
In one search for a VP/Sales & Marketing for an engineered product
manufacturer, the client strongly preferred not only an engineering
degree, but also actual experience as an engineer before the candidate
had moved to the sales and marketing side. Many sales and marketing
folks in their industry had been engineers early in their careers; if a
candidate left those jobs off of her resume because they took place
more than 10 or 15 years in the past, she removed a key selling feature
from her resume.
In that same search, I found that most candidates in that
highly-technical industry with marketing titles who had never had a
field sales position were poor salespeople. I started skipping
candidates if they hadn’t held a sales or sales management position at
some time during their careers. Once again, a person whose resume made
it look like he had magically graduated from college and immediately
become a Director of Marketing overseeing an $85-million product line
ten years ago hurt himself.
In another search for a Business Unit
General Manager, the
client wanted someone with a broad background. The ideal career started
engineering position, and included technical marketing experience and
development experience as well as senior management experience,
hopefully as a
general manager. Many people, especially those from big companies, have
that include stops in many departments. Those who didn’t include these
viewed as the ideal steps by many companies to a general management
weren’t as likely to get a call from me.
For the most part, there are only a
few reasons why people leave off the early parts of their careers.
1) Some people have been told
that a resume cannot be more than two pages long (a fallacy – a resume
can be four or five pages long if page 1 is interesting enough to
make someone want to read page 2, and page 2 makes her want to read
page 3, and since resumes are read on a computer screen for the most
part, no one really knows what page they’re reading).
2) Some people are trying to cover up job hopping or parts of their
careers that they’d rather not publicize.
3) But the largest majority of people who leave off their early experience
do so because they are trying to hide their age. This is not a great
idea – anyone can find your age on the internet in a few clicks if they
really want to – but it makes the employer wonder if you think your age
is an issue (see If You Name Something As an Issue, It Just Became One,
and I’m Too Old
for more on this subject). One study revealed that those who hide
their age by leaving off college graduation dates or by leaving off the
early parts of their careers were believed to be ten years older than
they really were, so covering up seems to fail.