When I hosted a mentor session for Create & Cultivate Insiders, I got a lot of questions about résumé format and career path, but one question that stood out to me was, “When is it time to take something off of your résumé?” This is a great question because the answer depends on your experience and the goal of your résumé.
With that said, there are a few guidelines you should follow to help you see the signs that it’s time to take something off of your résumé. A common misconception is that you should include your whole career path on your résumé. While this is true for some people, most people should include some adjusted versions of their career path on their résumé.
Today, I want to discuss when to take something off of your résumé.
Take it off if… It doesn’t serve a purpose.
If you’re pondering the question, “When is it time to take something off of your résumé?” consider the fact that you only have a set amount of space to craft the perfect snapshot of your career. Everything on your résumé should serve a purpose.
Every piece of information included should serve a purpose. If it does not, it’s time to remove it from your résumé.
Take it off if… It was in a different lifetime.
Depending on the person and situation, I typically recommend including about 10-20 years of experience on a résumé. Including information that’s older than that is often not worth it. There are exceptions to this if the experience serves a purpose, (i.e. it shows a notable company, client, or role), however, most of the time you don’t need to go back that far.
If you have a lot of great experience that was a few decades ago, you can save those anecdotes to use during your interview.
Take it off if… It makes you seem less experienced or too experienced.
Some experiences may have been very valuable and may have even been a turning point in your life/career, but they might work against you. Great examples of experiences that are important but not important for your résumé when you have an established career are college classes or internships. Note that these are not important to include if you have an established career.
If you are currently in school or just out of school searching for your first job, college classes or class projects are a great way to bolster your résumé and highlight your industry knowledge. However, if you do have an established career, they will often make you appear less experienced.
Unless you’re currently in college or recently graduated (looking for your first job out of college) there is no need to include information about the classes you took in school. Once you’ve made it past your first or second entry-level job, employers care more about what you’ve accomplished at work than what you learned in a classroom. Education is important, but on-the-job experience always takes precedence.
On that same note, it’s important to consider if a role makes you appear too experienced for the position you’re applying to. If you’re trying to shift careers or maybe take a lower-level position because of location, it’s important to be conscious of what information can make you appear too experienced for the job. If a potential employer feels that you’re overqualified for the job, they may fear that you’ll get bored easily which could equate to you inadequately completing required tasks or leaving a role quickly which would increase turnover.
Ultimately, every piece of information you include on your résumé should serve a purpose. It may be tempting to include everything to show your entire career path and/or versatility, but it’s important to consider the question of when is it time to take something off of your résumé. If it doesn’t serve a purpose or was from a different lifetime, it’s probably time to take it off.
About the Author: Michele Lando is a certified professional résumé writer, personal branding expert, and founder of Write Styles. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals’ application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles provides resources to enhance your résumé, professional appearance, and boost your confidence. Michele strives to help others gain the confidence to put their best foot forward in a personal and professional light.
Love this story? Pin the below graphic to your Pinterest board.
This story was originally published on October 30, 2019, and has since been updated.