By Christopher Nelson
Tribune Media Services
10:40 AM EST, February 11, 2011
Past employment experience doesn't make the cut of the resumes for the rich and famous. For example, Brad Pitt made a few extra bucks as the most handsome refrigerator mover ever, Jerry Seinfeld used to sell light bulbs over the phone and Fidel Castro practiced law in Havana.
In reality, being crowned world's sexiest man, making a mint off of a sitcom or taking control of a country really does outshine these long-ago gigs. But for most humble and hard workers, the past has shaped who they have become.
People will always tell you to have your resume as up-to-date as it can possibly be. That's good advice but what's not going to help is completely neglecting everything you've done a few years ago. Because, sometimes, the past can say a lot about who you are, where you've been and where you want to be.
Steve Langerud is a workplace consultant and is director of professional opportunities at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. He frequently speaks with clients and students about the link between their past and present professional lives. He starts the conversation by opening with his own evolution of early experiences.
"The items from the past that make brief appearances on my resume today, like most of us, were deeply formative experiences even if they are not exactly on point for our current work," says Langerud.
A few jobs have bridged the years, never straying from his resume.
Summer high school jobs included working in a greenhouse and driving a dump truck. When he spent some time in Europe, Langerud not only worked for an archaeologist in southern France but he was also a street performer.
"I was spinning basketballs on my fingers," says Langerud. "No great riches but I learned a lot and met some interesting people."
Don't see a relationship between circus tricks and professional consulting? Well don't look too hard because there is none. So why does Langerud keep it on his resume? Because it makes him seem better rounded, more interesting.
"In my work today, I want clients or employers to have a sense of breadth in my experience, both topically and geographically, and that I've had a lot of fun along the way," says Langerud. "Sometimes, we just get too serious when we write resumes and we need to add a sense of our personality and experience."
There is absolutely no reason to give all the gigs from your glory days the boot from your resume. A humbling position from high school can show that you don't take yourself too seriously. Being promoted from an entry-level position can show that you work hard, show up and put forth some initiative. Even a completely random occupation, like Langerud's street performer past, can show that you're willing to take a chance on something new.
It's all about you. That's what it boils down to in the end. An up-to-date resume might show that you've been busy over the past few years but if there's nothing about your past, how can anyone get a full picture of who you are?
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