How Far Back Should a Resume Go? Here's What to Do

How far back should a resume go? The job history section is one of the most important aspects of a good resume. Choosing which of your past employment to mention and how much information to provide about each is an essential element of the resume writing process that should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

how far back should a resume go

Job seekers should design the career history section of their resume according to the level of position they're applying for. An entry-level position doesn't require as much work history. While a senior-level role could require more. How far back your resume should go is determined by the job you're applying for.

How far back should a resume go?

Generally speaking, a resume should go back 10 to 15 years. Several factors influence how many years of job experience you should put on your resume. You should think about your industry, degree of expertise, and qualifications.

Each of these factors can influence whether or not mentioning specific years of experience is advantageous. When making this selection, the most crucial item to consider is whether or not a former employer is relevant to your present job search.

how far back should a resume go

Even if you haven't worked in that role in over 10 years, it may be beneficial to put it on your resume if it provided you with important experience, relevant skills, and possibilities to advance professionally.

If you've changed careers several times over your career, you might want to limit your job listing to the previous five years.

How much work history should you include on your resume?

Anything can go on a resume. It's about relevance. When you create your resume, how far back you go in work history should be determined on what highly relevant job titles you held. Or what achievements you accomplished (accomplishments) while employed.

Every job is different. A mid-level position will require at least 10 years of experience, for example. When deciding what to include on your resume, the requirements of the job should dictate both the number of years you list and what the bullet points mentioned in the experience section.

how far back should a resume go

How long should the resume be?

Keep your resume to a management length. Only those with 15 years of work experience or more should have a two-page professional resume. Use the cover letter as additional real estate to mention key skills, prior positions/jobs, or other accomplishments.

how far back should a resume go

Use a free resume template to assist you in the creation process.

When to go back 5-10 years in work history

A substantial job shift is the most typical reason to reduce your employment history to fewer than 10 years. Consider this: you have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and are looking for a job as an Executive Assistant.

You worked for two successful businesses during the following eight years and maintained an exceptional performance record.

However, as time went on, you discovered that working as an executive assistant wasn't as fulfilling as you had imagined. Instead, you opt to pursue a profession as a nurse.

You return to school for the following five years, earning a nursing degree and completing a nursing internship.

For example:

When looking for nursing employment, you may want to limit the content on your resume/CV to nursing-related facts. Including only your most recent five years of experience keeps the conversation focused on nursing and helps you avoid questions about your age or dedication to the industry.

When it's okay to leave work off your resume

If you think that the early years of your work are unrelated to your present goals or interests, it may be beneficial to leave them off your resume.

If you pick this option, make sure to include other forms of information on your resumes, such as skills or accolades.

If you get to the interviewing stage of the recruiting process, you should also be prepared to answer detailed questions regarding your job experience.

how far back should a resume go

When to go back 10-15 years in work history

The majority of experts advise include 10-15 years of job experience on your CV. This comprises three to five distinct occupations for the bulk of professionals.

For example, if you are a 32-year-old elementary school teacher, your 11 years of work experience comprises four years of undergraduate study, one year of assistant teaching, three years with your first employer, and two years in your present role.

In order to demonstrate a thorough picture of where you started, how you grew, and where you are today, you should include 10-15 years of experience. For many people, 10-15 years might encompass everything from graduation from college to their most recent promotion.

Some more senior professionals, on the other hand, may have only held one or two roles over the course of a decade or more.

Determining whether 10 or 15 years is sufficient time is mainly dependent on the individual's professional objectives and the amount of relevant experience that potential employers may require.

how far back should a resume go

Some job postings demand five years of actual experience, while others may require ten to fifteen. Customizing your resume/CV to the job you're looking for can make you appear more competent and persuade the hiring manager that you'd be a good match for the role.

Relevancy

As previously said, if your experience is truly relevant, it should be included on your resume/CV. Keep in mind that if you have more than 30 years of relevant experience, you may only want to mention the most recent 10 to 15 years unless the earlier roles demonstrate distinct elements of your work and successes.

Also, if you have a lot of relevant experience, you're probably looking for a higher-level job title where age isn't as important.

Great job titles or companies

If you had a high-ranking position or worked for a prominent firm, you should undoubtedly keep it on your resume. If it catches the hiring manager's attention, it's a great piece of work history to list.

Explains a gap

If you mention your graduation year, certification, license, or other projects but leave out a significant amount of experience, the hiring manager may believe you have a gap in your resume/CV. If this is the case, you must either include your job experience or exclude other dates.

how far back should a resume go

When to go back further than 15 years in work history

In today's employment market, having more than 15 years of experience on a resume/CV is unusual. Hiring supervisors are usually just interested in the previous 15 years of your job experience. Anything that occurred more than 15 years ago has the potential to become obsolete.

Let's say you worked as a project manager for a software business for five years. Then you got a job as a product manager at another business, where you worked for the following 12 years.

When revising your resume/CV, it's generally a good idea to leave out your five years as a project manager in favor of focusing on your achievements as a creative director.

how far back should a resume go

Potential employers and clientele are more likely to be interested in what you have accomplished in your most recent position than in positions where you have worked for more than 12 years.

When to go this far back on a resume

If you've been in the same work for 15 years or longer, you're exempt from this rule. In that scenario, your perseverance, experience, and dedication may make you a more attractive prospect.

Applicants with a lot of experience, on the other hand, may be viewed as out of touch or difficult to teach. As an older professional, your goal will be to persuade hiring managers that you are eager to learn and that your years of experience make you a more useful team member.

Why you shouldn't add all years of experience on your resume

When you've spent a long time establishing your career, you'll want to include as much experience as possible on your resume. Many people put decades of experience on their applications, which might explain why they don't receive any calls or replies to interview.

Avoids age discrimination

Yes, there is age prejudice, and it may cost you the interview. It's simple for a hiring manager to determine your age if your resume/CV dates back 20 or 30 years.

They could ignore your resume if they're searching for a younger applicant. They may still be able to predict your age if you are called in for an interview, but you will have the opportunity to establish your worth.

Increases job relevancy

The recruiting manager/hiring manager isn't interested in what you did 10 to 15 years ago. It eventually becomes preferable to leave it off your resume/CV. Because your resume will only be read for a few seconds, make sure it is clear and succinct.

Your resume will almost always be rejected if it contains irrelevant material.

Removes clutter

A crowded resume is another factor that irritates hiring managers. Many years of expertise typically do this. Your resume should never exceed two pages in length.

Keep it brief, sweet, and to the point to rapidly demonstrate to the company that you're the greatest candidate for the job.

Only one company for a long period of time

It may be tough to remove years from your resume/CV if you solely worked for one firm for a long time. Depending on the scenario, there is a way around this.

If you've held many roles at the firm, you may break down your work experience by the number of years you've held each title. This allows you to include more relevant positions at the front of your resume and eliminate ones that aren't.

Here's what that should look like:

  • CPA: 6 years (2014 to 2021)
  • CSA: 6 years (2008 to 2014)

how far back should a resume go

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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