Many candidates who come to us for resume help have the same question. They have years of professional work experience, but a lot of it isn't relevant to the position they're currently seeking.
On the one hand, they don't want to waste resume space detailing work that doesn't relate to their application. On the other hand, they don't want to omit years of work that developed them as a professional.
How do you mentioned unrelated work experience on your resume?
The Right Phrase
We use a magic phrase to address this issue: "additional experience." It's perfectly fine to sum up large portions of your career in one section that lists previous employers, positions, leadership roles, certifications, associations, publications, awards, volunteer experience, and even significant hobbies (as long as the experience supports your professionalization in some way).
If you spent the first 10 years of your marketing career performing lower-level tasks, in your "Additional Experience" section at the end of your resume you could say: "Marketing positions with ABC, DEF, and XYZ (1990-2000)."
If your previous work was in an unrelated field, you can simply list the companies: "Positions with ABC, DEF, and XYZ."
Whatever additional experience you decide to include on your resume, make sure you demonstrate why it's important to the job you're applying for by quantifying the work experience and your accomplishments.
The Age Game
This technique can also be very helpful to those who are concerned about age discrimination. We summarized the first 15 years of one candidate's career into one sentence to downplay the fact that she was 55. Because her experience was relevant to her field, removing it from her resume entirely would have been a disservice, but we did not include the years that experience encompassed in her "Additional Experience" section.
The Experience Issue
We recently worked with another candidate who needed to show that she was a more experienced professional than her education suggested. This woman had worked for 10 years before going back to complete her bachelor's degree. From looking at her graduation dates, you would assume she was in her 20s. In fact, she was an experienced manager in her 30s—a fact that was important to show for the level of job she was seeking.
By adding an "Additional Experience" section and putting her "Work History" section before her "Education" section, she was able to show employers that her graduation dates were not an indication of how much experience she had. Just because her work experience occurred before graduating doesn't mean it was unrelated work experience. The right resume format will make it much easier to mention any kind of significant work experience you've had in your career.
Many of us have work experience that doesn't fit neatly with our current goals and objectives. If you don't feel comfortable leaving it off your resume altogether, using an "Additional Experience" section can help you mention the experience quickly without wasting precious resume space.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.