Should I put irrelevant experience on my resume?

chris15's picture
Rank: Chimp | 13

I'm a rising senior about to apply for full-time analyst positions in NYC. I only have one real relevant experience to put on my resume. It's my summer analyst position at MM in Houston/SF/Boston where I'm working this summer. Other than that, I'm the president of one of the clubs at my school and the event planner for another club. I think it makes sense to put at least one more experience/leadership experience on my resume, but the problem is I could only list some irrelevant summer jobs (e.g lifeguard or cashier) that I had before getting my internship this summer. I had a lot of leadership experiences back in HS, but as the rising senior in college I would rather leave those off my resume. Therefore, will I be fine with only three entries on my resume or should I try to put one of my irrelevant experiences and highlight some of the transferable skills I gained in that position?

Comments (14)

Jul 19, 2017
    • 2
Aug 30, 2017

Well i think you should not write irrelevant experience on your resume, because it will not make any sense to put else from what you have done in your career. Better you will just put what you have done with respect to your field and the post, job for which you are applying for. Yes, you can put your skills on resume that too which are proper. I have gone through some which will help you for sure.

Aug 30, 2017


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Aug 30, 2017

It all depends on what kind of job you are applying for, and how long ago you were a barista.

If you are applying for a finance-related position, leave it off, even if you quit your barista job 5 minutes ago. Any hiring manager in the finance sector will not give two hoots about your barista experience. You may be thinking, "It shows I am responsible and can hold a job". Anyone who is considering hiring you will already assume that. They will also assume you've had at least one part time and/or retail-level job in your life.

In fact, putting something like that could hurt you. People will probably think to themselves "Why is barista on here? Did this person really think that was relevant? You've got to be kidding me. Next."

That's what I would do. I've hired probably around 100 people over several different jobs during my career. Nothing made me throw away a resume faster (other than obvious grammatical errors) than if it contained something completely irrelevant. It makes me think "this person doesn't get it".

Same reason I don't recommend putting things like "Extensive knowledge of MS Word, MS Excel" That is so 2003. People assume that everyone can use basic software like this in 2017. Not relevant. Might as well put "can Google shit" while you're at it.

Note: Leaving off non-relevant jobs could be a very bad idea in some cases - someone older would definitely want to list out-of-career-field jobs so as not to have unexplained gaps. It's a different story when you are young and gunning for the first "real" job in your chosen, specialized field.

In your case, I'd get very detailed about your internship. Think about what you did there; might be a few things you wouldn't normally consider as experience lines. Put every last thing you can think of. Get with a friend who's good with resumes and describe your job duties to that person. Some new experience lines will flow from that.

Then do the same thing with your grad studies. Even though it's educational, I'd list your pursuits in the same way that one might list job experience. Have you assisted a prof? Worked as a TA? Did research? Co-authored a study? Whatever it is, put it down.

Formatting tip: Use the largest-sized fonts you can without making it seem obvious. Sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica naturally take up more space and they present a more modern look. Use white space the same way - as much as possible without overdoing it.

    • 1
Aug 30, 2017

thanks for the advice!

Aug 30, 2017

Well what would you put in place of those internships? As long as you can spin some of the things you did in those positions to relate to skills needed in finance you should leave them in.

    • 1
Best Response
Aug 30, 2017

Hi there,

ANY internship experience will be useful on your resume as long as you can show that you have developed skills which will be useful for the next experience. This is even more the case if you can clearly highlight and quantify your contribution and achievements during those internships as this will show that you ADDED VALUE!

Just use the usual key words which the bank algorithms will pick up like teamwork, analysis, leadership, problem solving etc...

Those internships would also be a plus if you are looking to apply for finance roles related to the medical field like pharma or biotech equity research, corporate finance or management consultancy.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
J Cohen
Founder of IBMentor

    • 3
Aug 30, 2017

I also looking for some preferences for internships for my nephew. Good in academic records and is recent graduate. Please help me with some advice with this. Can he apply.

Aug 30, 2017

My guess is that was a rare case. I don't think most people care about your fast food experience (no offense - I worked at a gas station in high school!).

Aug 30, 2017