(MoneyWatch) My daughter is looking for her first real, professional job right now -- something to start her post-college career. She's concerned about including her unrelated retail experience on her resume, but I've reassured her that it's expected. After all, she's a 20 year old college grad. What else would an employer expect to see on a resume?
After you've been in the professional job market for 5 or 10 years, though, the rules change. If you've been working as an insurance adjuster for a decade and then have a 3-month stint as a floor manager at a fast food restaurant, that's certain to raise some questions. How do you handle these kind of career detours on a resume?
Recently, Lifehacker tackled this topic and gave some great advice for anyone who ends up with some work experience they'd rather not have to articulate on their resume:
Don't leave gaps. You could simply leave some work experience off your resume entirely, but if that will result in long, unexplained gaps, then this particular cure is probably worse than the ailment. You'll have to explain yourself eventually anyway -- if you even get the chance to do so -- so it's probably a good idea to own the experience and enter it on your resume.
Emphasize your accomplishments. You probably need to include your unrelated work experience, so be sure to take advantage of the bullet points to explain your accomplishments. Spin the experience to show how it made you more qualified for the position you're looking for now.
Make the experience a part of your story. Don't neglect those jobs when you talk about yourself or have to give examples from your work experience during the interview. Use it to showcase how you've grown, what you've learned, and how you became the great candidate that you are today. Sometimes it's these unexpected jobs that can give you hands-on experience you can cite as strengths in the interview.
Photo courtesy Flickr user The Cleveland Kid