How to deal with "sketchy" previous work experiences

Q: My previous work experiences have been at "sketchy" companies - adult video store, liquor store.  Do I include these on my resume?

A:

You should tailor your resume to the job you are applying for.    Emphasize skills that the hiring manager is looking for.  For example if you are applying to be a writer, emphasize the writing skills you used in your past job.  If you are applying to be an office manager, emphasize your organizational skills.

With this in mind,  if you are applying to be a daycare worker, church leader or anti drunk driving advocate then you should probably leave these experiences off.

If you are applying to a retail position, or an office job at a company where alcohol sales or adult products are not frowned upon, include the experience.  You could potentially list your previous position on your resume as “retail sales staff at local small business” and only give the actual name of the business if asked at an interview.

When discussing your experience, the actual products the store sold or the store itself are less important and don’t need to be the focus.

More important is demonstrating the value you brought your previous employers. Talk about the experience you gained in customer service and how you ensured that customers were happy.  Talk about how you understanding merchandise stocking and store management.   Give examples of how you helped to increase sales. Demonstrate you are good at dealing with people, getting along with co- workers, getting stuff done, etc.