How Far Back Should Job Experience Go on a Resume?

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Whether you have decided to look for a new position or are coming back to the workforce after a hiatus, you will need to revisit your resume to ensure that you include all relevant information. You will also need to make sure that you’re only including the most relevant information. In this article, you can explore how far back you should go when adding job experience on your resume.

How far back should your job experience go on your resume?

How far back you should go when adding job experience on your resume will depend on how relevant the experience is to the job you are applying for. In general, you don’t want to go back more than 10 to 15 years with job experience. This can become challenging if you have been working for many years and most of your experience is relevant. If you have a gap in your job history, it can also be challenging to decide how far back you want to go. However, having very little or no work experience may also prove challenging when you are drafting your resume.

Tips for how far back to show job experience

Here are some guidelines you can follow for how far back to show experience depending on the level of the job you are applying for:

Senior-level positions

If you are applying for a senior-level position, you likely have many years of experience. It is advisable to select only work experience from the last 15 years that are the most applicable to the job you are applying for. Also, check the job posting, as recruiters often mention the expected years of expertise they desire, which you can then use as a guideline.

Intermediate-level positions

When you are applying for an intermediate-level position, you do not want to go back further than a 10-year history, and you also want to focus on including only relevant positions. If you do not have a lot of relevant experience, you can include other jobs but avoid adding extensive information about these.

Entry-level positions

If you are applying for an entry-level position, chances are that you may not have a lot of relevant experience to include on your resume. In such instances, you will want to list all paid and voluntary work you have done, as well as relevant skills and accomplishments that illustrate you are a good fit for the job. In this kind of situation, it is not so much about the relevance of your experience as demonstrating that you are a good and enthusiastic employee with a great attitude.

Should you list old jobs on your resume?

Here are some cases to consider when you can list old jobs on your resume:

If your old jobs include relevant experience

In such cases, you can create a section in your resume that states ‘Previous Professional Experience,’ where you can list relevant positions from more than 10 to 15 years ago. You can either list only the name of the company and your job title, or you could add a descriptive sentence that provides some detail with regard to your responsibilities, as well as notable achievements.

If the experience is relevant and you want to omit dates

It is advisable, especially if these experiences date quite far back, to omit the dates, as doing so may prevent recruiters from regarding you as too senior or old for the position. Another tip you may want to keep in mind is to reference any entries that are particularly noteworthy in the Previous Professional Experience section in the Summary section at the beginning of your resume. In this way, you will not only draw attention to these entries but will also entice your reader to read to the end of your resume. 

If you are applying for a senior position

You may need to include work experience that is more than 10 to 15 years old if you are applying for a senior or mid-level position and you have a gap in your work history. For instance, if you worked as a legal secretary for many years and then took a 10-year break to raise your kids and now want to rejoin the workforce, you should list the work experience you gained before. You may also want to add any relevant part-time or freelancing job experiences you may have had in the interim, especially if they’re relevant to the new position. 

If you want to avoid gaps

Another point to consider is that omitting work experience from your resume because it is not relevant may make it seem as if there is a large gap in your work experience. If so, it is advisable to include the irrelevant job experiences with just the company and your position without adding any further detail.

Should you include freelance work on your resume?

Whether you should include freelance work on your resume when applying for a job will depend on the level of position you are applying for and how much relevant paid experience you have. You should only consider including freelance positions when you are applying for an entry-level position and have little to no relevant working experience. In such instances, you would include all relevant work experience, whether paid, voluntary, part-time or freelance, to illustrate that you have work experience in general and that you have a strong work ethic and a wide range of skills.