I'm moving house at the moment so my week has become a chore of cardboard boxes, packing, and discovering all the inane crap you have stored away and forgotten about.
Back in my youth I moved house pretty often. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it but I certainly found it easy. I changed houses enough that I had the moving process down pat.
Now I'm mid 30s, have lived in the same house for 7+ years, and I have a wife and two kid to move as well.
Moving is suddenly not so easy.
One thing this move has shown me is how much crap we, as a family, have accumulated. Crap here, crap there. Crap everywhere. Not in the literal sense, although when it comes to kids sometimes crap can quite literally be everywhere.
I'm talking about all the useless crap we have accumulated over time. The crap we don't need anymore.
I'm not much of a sentimental guy so my default reaction is "throw it away". This does not go down so well with the rest of my family.
The result is me crankily lugging box after box of crap we don't need to the new house just so it can sit there unused, only to be lugged to the next house in a few years time.
About now you're thinking "This is all well and good Zac but what does this have to do with job applications and careers?" Hold your horses, I'm getting there.
In life we hold on to a bunch of things we don't need anymore because they used to be important. Or at least we thought they were important at one point in time.
I see the same thing happen all the time on CVs.
People cling to certain elements of their CV like a sentimental lover hoards romantic gifts from their high school girlfriend/boyfriend. The items don’t provide any real value any more but you cant bring themselves to get rid of them.
Volunteering as chairperson of the debating club might have seemed like a good idea at the time and it probably even made a nice addition to your CV when you graduated.
But 5 years later? No thanks. I don’t care any more.
That might sound harsh but…well maybe it is harsh. Deal with it. That's how hiring managers think when assessing cover letters and CVs.
When it comes to job applications remember this:
Recent = Relevant
The more recent your experience is the more relevant it is.
That project you smashed out this year, that money you saved your company this month, that old lady you helped cross the road yesterday…That is all good stuff. I want to know about that because it is recent.
But the further back in time you go the less relevant your experience is.
Time erodes the relevance of your experience.
When you are just graduating school then all sorts of aspects are important.
Which subjects did you nail?
What were you final marks?
How did you handle exam pressure?
What extra-curricular activities did you participate in?
What awards did you receive?
If you were applying for a graduate level, your first job, then that would all be very interesting because it is recent.
Fast forward 5 or 10 years and none of that really matters any more. Your schooling might warrant a brief, single line, entry just to note that you did actually go to school and not grow up in the woods raised by a pack of wolves.
But what you have done in the 5 to 10 years since school is now waaaaaaaaay more important. The same applies for every item on your CV.
Focus on your recent achievements, experience, and results. If the only interesting things you have to talk about are a few years old then you wont get the job.
Recency is king. Recency is what makes you relevant.