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I spent 7 years after high school working in hospitality, customer service, and semi-skilled manual labor. I returned to school got a bachelor's and later a masters, and now work in a research lab. I do not include any of my pre-respecialization work experience on my resume or LinkedIn. I also do not include my high school graduation date. As such, someone reviewing my resume could mistake me for a different candidate, one who was more focused and went right into the field. In some scenarios (application/interview), I do not do/say anything to discourage this assumption. I have a youngish face, though in terms of energy level I'm sure it comes through. Obviously, co-workers have an idea.

I feel that some cases of respecializing are respected, such as transitioning from one trained, professional role to another. People change, and taking steps to align your career with your priorities and interests, if these fall out of alignment is looked at favorably. Meanwhile, "menial" jobs (retail, customer service, food service, construction in some cases) regardless of the reason a person might stay in these jobs, are a looked at as lost time, and in most cases, are best glossed over or avoided.

Anyone have thoughts on this? If your resume/publications/accomplishments etc. do not suggest your age, should you fake it where you can? (as many people are most productive early on in their careers, ageism, etc)

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  • Depending on the job you're applying for, your "menial" working experience might be a big plus on the soft-skill side. You know how to deal with people, how some things work in the "real" world, etc. Sure, this wont give you much bonus in engineering or chemistry research, but e.g. in humanity related researched, your experience might help you.
    – Erik
    Aug 9, 2021 at 7:25
  • One option is to put in a single job call "hospitality, customer service, and semi-skilled manual labor" covering these dates.
    – Ian
    Aug 9, 2021 at 13:27

2 Answers 2

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It depends on what you mean by "fake it". You need to be honest, but you don't need to volunteer things that aren't required. Nor do you always need to give the most complete possible answers.

But honesty is required.

I think most people will accept you as you are, not looking for ways to put you down over issues like age. There are exceptions, of course, but more people "do the right thing" than not. And a lot of people will have gone through some of the same things. Not everyone's path is smooth.

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I think you are looking from a subjective perspective.

Everyone perceives from a different point of view. For example, your work in "hospitality, customer service, and semi-skilled manual labor" moved to research, it shows that you have the ability to adapt to the new environment, which is a good thing in research.

Sell your past with better words rather than hiding it.

Be honest! there must be a post/job that will appreciate your "agility".

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    To this I'd add that someone who can survive in the hospitality business probably "adults" very well. this is a plus.
    – Tony Ennis
    Aug 9, 2021 at 15:41

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