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Should you include irrelevant work experience on a resume?

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In this article, we will be discussing whether we should mention our irrelevant work experience on the resume or not. First, we will know what irrelevant work experience actually is and how we can transform our irrelevant work experience into a relevant experience by identifying the job role, responsibilities, and skills.

What is irrelevant work experience?

Irrelevant experience is past work experience or skills that are not related to the job you’re applying for, and relevant experience includes past jobs that are directly related to the job position you are applying for. For example, let’s say you’re applying for a software developer role and you have experience in the marketing field; your experience in the marketing field will be irrelevant experience, and due to that, your job application might get rejected by the employer. In this case, you can also use a resume rather than a CV. For better clarification on CV and resume, visit: What should I use? “A Curriculum Vitae or a Resume” 
If you mention your irrelevant work experience on the resume, the employer might reject the job application as your experience will not be useful to them. If you have irrelevant work experience, you should always go with a resume, as it has fewer chances of getting your application rejected by the employer because you do not have to provide more details about your work experience, skills, and achievements, and you can keep the employer’s focus on the required skills and work experience for that job. This can be beneficial for your job application if compared to the CV, as the CV is a document that asks for all your step-by-step career history, which makes it easier for the employer to find the “gaps and irrelevant work experience” and reject the application. After writing the resume, you should always check the length, as most employers do not like very lengthy resumes, and you should try not to exceed the resume length beyond two pages. If that is the case, you can simply cut out irrelevant experiences from your resume and reduce the length of your resume.

When can you put your unrelated work experience on your resume?

  • If you are using a resume along with the job application, you should always try not to include irrelevant work experience on the resume because the resume is a small document, and if you add irrelevant work experience or skills to that, the rejection chances might increase because the employer will be able to easily find that due to the length of the document. However, if you have gained any skills from your previous job that are similar to the job opening, you can definitely include those skills and experiences in your resume, which can help your application stand out among the rest.
  • You can also include your role and responsibilities from your last job if any of them match the job for which you want to apply.
  • If you have a lot of work experience in different industries and you want to apply to any one of those industries, you can mention the experience that you have in the same field and the skills that you have gained, and you can remove the rest of the irrelevant experience if that is not as per the current position requirement.
  • It can be difficult to determine whether your work experience is relevant for the job or not, and in most cases, it is relevant because some skills from your previous jobs match those of the current ones. In that case, you should always understand what your role was in the previous company, as well as the responsibilities that will be handed to you in the position that you are applying for, and try to list your work experience accordingly if there is any relevance between your past role and your future role. But during your interview, you may have to convince the interviewer how that work experience is relevant for that position, and you should be prepared for that.
  • If you are a fresh graduate or writing a resume without any work experience, you can mention your irrelevant work experience as it is sometimes helpful, as having some experience in any industry is an added advantage after all, and it adds weight to your job application. But make sure that you do not make the resume very lengthy, and always fill your gaps in the resume by providing the required details, as it might lead to the rejection of your job application.
  • Sometimes, when you are a fresh graduate and writing your resume without any work experience and you have some experience that is not relevant to the field that you want to enter now, you can add the work experience if there are no long gaps in your career history due to that job, and you try to put the main focus on the skills and responsibilities that are now relevant as per the new role that you want to enter.
  • While changing careers from one field to another, you should always try not to include irrelevant work experience in the resume or CV along with the job application form as it will be of no use. On the other hand, if that work experience is very long and makes long gaps in your resume or CV, you should mention it so that the employer gets a proper idea about that gap. If you already have the required skills and experience, excluding that irrelevant work experience, you should avoid mentioning it in your resume as it will also make the job application document longer.
  • Sometimes, all the work experience that you have seems relevant, but if you have a lot of work experience, it can make the resume length longer. In this case, we can deeply check the resume/CV and match all the experience, skills, and achievements that are needed for the job, try to remove the irrelevant skills, experience, and achievements from the resume, and make the resume/CV as per the job requirement.

Finally, you should always try to use your relevant work experience on your resume rather than making the resume too long by including irrelevant work experience and unrelated skills and achievements. Also, if you add unrelated work experience to your resume, the chances of rejection are higher, as the resume length is limited to 1-2 pages, and in that case, the employer will be able to easily identify the gap and reject the job application. Even if past experience seems irrelevant, there are chances that some of your skills match the current job opening, so you should always frame your resume before applying for any job opening.

Last Updated : 27 Apr, 2023
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