If one changes careers/subjects dramatically, would it be necessary in the interest of full disclosure to include irrelevant aspects of the educational background and work-experience etc. ?

For instance if somebody has an undergraduate degree in politics and 2 years of experience in PR but then goes on to an academic career in theoretical CS (essentially starting from scratch i.e. including an undergraduate degree), would it be better/necessary to clutter the CV by mentioning that earlier background ?

I guess there must be a certain degree of flexibility, as people would not include say a part-time job in the cafeteria etc. pp. but I am not sure what the academic conventions are in different scenarios. ( I am thinking about this in the context of applications for conferences, funding, workshops, travel funds etc. pp. )

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    Are you applying for grad school or for a professorship position? I'm not familiar with resumes being requested in grad school applications, but I can't imagine that someone working in politics could successfully apply for an academic position in anything that far outside their expertise. – eykanal Aug 23 '12 at 2:09
  • @eykanal I ve ammended the questions slightly to make it a bit less ambiguous. Thanks for the comment, it s made the ambiguity in the formulation clear ! – Beltrame Aug 23 '12 at 2:13
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    You can skip minor or embarrassing work experiences, but be careful not to leave any holes in the timeline of your CV: if your bachelor degree ended in 2009 and your master started in 2011, readers of your CV will wonder what you did in between. – Federico Poloni Aug 23 '12 at 7:40

The context for what the CV is going to be used for is key. I have a single CV that includes "everything" since I started grad school and selected things from before then including seemingly unimportant part time jobs. Having a long CV makes it easier for me to create short CVs because it means I need to delete things instead of remember things.

For your intended context, I would not include the work experience, but might include the degree in politics. Including that degree will likely lead people looking at your CV to think you are older (which might be a pro or a con). If you are worried about age discrimination, I would drop it completely.

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  • +1 for "it means I need to delete things instead of remember things" On a related note, whenever I do anything that I plan to include on my CV (could be as small as referee a paper or give a talk), I try to add it to the CV on the very day I do it, or at least within the week. This doesn't take much time, and it's so much easier to remember (and remember the exact details) just after I've done it. That way any time I'm asked for a CV, I have one ready to go almost immediately. – Dan C Aug 23 '12 at 13:52

Your intuition is correct; filler like that is very easily detected as filler. However, it does serve a useful purpose, in that it informs the person reading the CV what you've been doing for the past few years. If you do mention anything, I would just list the single most recent item. Any more than that would simply exaggerate the fact that you made a career shift, and doesn't provide any useful information.

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If I understood you correctly, even for getting the side benefits (attending conference,travel funds) you need not include irrelevant information in your CV.

One need not clutter the CV with something that is far from the requirement of the job. It does not matter how many things you did but rather how much of few things you did. These were my thoughts on your question.

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