Should You Include Irrelevant Experience on Your Resume?

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Being great at soccer is an awesome skill, but would it help you get that .NET dev job? Here's how to handle irrelevant experience on your resume.
Sep 8, 2022 7 min read

There was a time when employees stayed with the same employer for decades. But in modern times, that is no longer the case. You might have had multiple jobs in multiple fields throughout your career.

And that is completely okay. But when you are applying for a job, you need to know how to list them on your resume. Not every job position in your work history has a place on your resume. You need to make it relevant and present yourself in the best possible light.

To do it right, we are ready to present you the answers to the most important questions:

  • What is Irrelevant Work Experience?
  • The Difference Between Relevant and Irrelevant Work Experience
  • Is Your Work Experience Really Irrelevant?
  • Can You Make Irrelevant Work Experience Relevant?
  • Should You Include Irrelevant Work Experience On Your Resume?

And once we have these answers, we are going to leave you off with some great tips and tricks.

If you need some more general advice for your resume, we can show you how to make your resume stand out. Otherwise, stick around and learn should you include irrelevant work experience on your resume.

What is irrelevant experience?

The first thing we need to do is define what is an irrelevant experience. Most of the time it refers to your work experience, but it can also include your skillset.

Irrelevant experience is any past work experience or skills that are unrelated to the job position you are applying for.

When listing your work experience, you would want to make it all relevant. And make it obviously relevant.

No matter how great a skillset you got from a past job, it should not appear in your work experience section, unless it is obvious to the hiring manager why it is there.

That’s because hiring managers are always looking for relevant work experience on your resume. If you include something irrelevant, there is a great chance they will skip over that, or even worse, skip on your entire resume.

The difference between relevant and irrelevant work experience.

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever. That’s why you should keep the work experience on your resume strictly relative. But what is the difference between relevant and irrelevant work experience?

The relevant work experience includes only past jobs that are directly related to the job position you are applying for.

No matter how great of a bartender you have been, that wouldn’t impress the hiring manager who is looking for a programmer.

That also applies to your skillset. In order to keep it all relative on your resume, you can always check out the job listing.

That’s where you would find all the key work experience and skills that the hiring manager would be looking for. Make sure you highlight as much as possible relative experience and skills on your resume.

You would want to grab the hiring manager’s attention and make them spend more than 6 seconds on your resume.

Is your work experience really irrelevant?

Determining if your work experience is really irrelevant may be the hardest task of all. The line between relevant and irrelevant experience is extremely thin.

The simple fact that you have not held the same or similar position before is miles away from a conclusive answer. What you need to do here is take a closer look at your experience.

Most of it might seem irrelevant at first, but don’t forget all the transferable skills you have gained. You need to convince the hiring manager that your work experience and skills are relevant to the position you are applying for.

But make sure you don’t overdo it. You shouldn’t make your programmer position look like you are the Founder & CEO of the whole company. You wouldn’t want the hiring manager to think that you are lying.

Making irrelevant experience relevant

You might actually want to turn some of your irrelevant experience into a relevant one. And that is perfectly okay.

But you need to know how to do it right.

You wouldn’t want to overdo it or make your past positions look more impressive than they actually were.

While doing that task, you will need lots of creativity and tact. You would want to highlight all the transferable skills you gained, but you need to be careful not to make your resume sound made up.

What you want to do here is highlight every transferable skill you gained, but don’t make your past jobs to be more than they actually were. To make the best out of this, check out the job listing and find all the keywords that the hiring manager would be looking for.

Once you have them, you should try to highlight your relative skills and experience, using those words.

Should I include irrelevant work experience on a resume?

Making irrelevant experience relevant would not work with every job position you have held.

So that’s where you will face the difficult choice – whether to include an irrelevant work experience on your resume or not. When you are faced with that decision, it is entirely up to you. But there are a few questions that might help you with the decision.

Does this experience make you a more valuable employee?

Before you cut anything out, take one last look at it. Think about it from the side of the employer. Some experience or skills may be irrelevant to the job position, but still, make you a valuable employee.

Think especially carefully when it is about extracurricular projects, as sometimes they are very appealing to employers.

Also, if the company is looking for a random unrelated skill that you have, make sure you include it. You never know what will be the final drop to getting you your interview.

Do you have enough space on your resume?

If you have lots of work experience behind you, and you have just decided to change your career path, you probably don’t have much space on your resume.

That’s the perfect moment to start cutting off not-so-relevant information and make room for what would catch the hiring manager’s attention.

However, make sure you do it cautiously.

You wouldn’t want to leave big gaps in your work history, that would only raise questions.

Do you need to fill blank spots on your resume?

There is also the opposite case. You might be straight out of college and not have much work experience yet.

In that case, even irrelevant work experience would do. If you are a recent graduate, any job you had while keeping a decent GPA in your education section, would work greatly in your favor. That shows the potential employer you can handle responsibility.

Now that you have answers to all those questions, the decision is entirely up to you. And it should already be a significantly easier one.

A few tips and tricks on nailing down skill relevancy for your resume.

Now we are done with all the important questions about irrelevant work experience on your resume. But we wouldn’t let you go without giving you some extra tips and tricks to get you going.

After all, we want you to present yourself in the best possible light. So let’s go through a few of our favorites.

Do your research

When creating your resume, you need to work smart. You need to do your research on the company you are applying for.

Learn everything you can about them, and use it effectively on your resume. You need to show them that you can create a better future for the company.

Your experience is significant, but what is even more critical is the future that you present them. It is a hard task, as you are sending out documents, and there is no face-to-face contact. But with good research, it is achievable.

Even more, a great resume builder can help you tell a story visually. You can even tailor your resume by uploading the job description you’re applying for.

Consider a functional resume

If you don’t have much work experience or are currently changing fields, a reverse-chronological resume might not be the best choice.

In that case, a far greater impact can be achieved by using a functional resume.

That format focuses on your skills, and it is easier for you to show all the transferable skills you have gained.

By using a functional resume format, your irrelevant work experience also becomes less of an issue.

Takeaways: Should I include irrelevant work experience on a resume?

Now you know if you should include irrelevant work experience on your resume.

You are now ready to choose whether to include your irrelevant work experience on your resume.

Don’t forget – your experience may seem irrelevant at first, but by giving it a second look, you can make it work for you.

Check out our tips and tricks once again and get one step closer to getting your next interview.

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