How Far Back Should My Resume Go?

Posted on November 27, 2017

When you’re looking for jobs, it’s critical to have a strong and up-to-date resume. Hiring managers don’t have a lot of time to review potential candidates, so a well-crafted resume goes a long way. The ideal resume will be between one or two pages long. The longer you’re in the workforce, the harder it is to fit all your work experience in this short space. You obviously want to give your potential employer the best picture of your past work history, but you can’t fit everything. Is it necessary to go back to the beginning of your career and list everything?

 

When working with your resume, it’s important to be aware of the job you’re applying for. Most experts recommend you put down your six most recent jobs, or the last 10 years of your work history. Typical resumes list older experience at the bottom, and unless you have something that would help you stand out, you should list your most current experience first. Employers want to see what you’ve been doing recently, not what you started out doing 30 years ago. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that your most recent experience will usually be more relevant to a new job, and second, with all the changes in technology, and business practice, anything beyond that is almost irrelevant. If you’re applying for a job and one of your first jobs is relevant to your application, you should add it only if it strengthens your resume. However, if you’ve worked at one job for 30 years, don’t only put down 10 of those years, but if you’ve had multiple jobs over the last few decades, only include a few of them.

 

It’s very important that you cater your resume to the job you’re applying for. Each employer is looking for specific things, and it’s your job to give it to them. Catering your resume to fit an employer’s needs is vital to your job hunt. It’s also important, to be honest. Leaving out pieces of your work history that are unimportant to the job you’re applying for is not dishonest. But, since you can’t fit everything, you need to make choices as to what goes on your resume. If you want to bring up more of your past work history, a great place to do that would be in a job interview.

 

If you want to include your lengthy, past work experience in your resume, consider doing it in the form of a bulleted list, and not an exhaustive description of each job and duty you’ve held. Exposure to a certain industry may give you the edge to surpass the competition. Don’t eliminate something just because it was a long time ago. There are sometimes when listing your entire work history can make you look overqualified for a certain job.

 

All that being said, there is no perfect answer for how far back your resume should go. If you’re able to get a feel for what the employer is looking for, you’ll have a better idea how to tailor your resume to what they need. It’s important to keep a resume that has your entire work history on it, and then you can pull pieces from it as needed. It may also help you publish a curriculum vitae for more academic positions.

 

However far back you choose to write your resume, it’s critical that you present it professionally. It’s important that you’re able to show past accomplishments and highlight specific job-related skills you may have. This keeps the hiring manager interested and lays the groundwork for a follow-up interview, and a possible job.

 

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