How Many Years Should You Go Back on a Resume?

How Many Years Should You Go Back on a Resume? | Tips

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Although it may be challenging, review your situation to determine how much of your career history to include on your resume. Hiring managers usually review several resumes daily, so it’s important to highlight your most relevant work history. Consider some of these writing tips when deciding how many years to go back on your resume.

How many years should you go back on a resume?

Though the number of years you should go back on a resume will vary by person, the general answer is 10 years. The most crucial factor in this is the relevance of your work history to the position you’re applying for. For example, suppose you were a babysitter 12 years ago, and you’re applying for an accountant position. In that case, this previous work history won’t do much to help you stand out among other candidates. For most candidates, their most relevant experience is their most recent experience.

Why does it matter how many years you go back on a resume?

Listing just your most relevant roles will help hiring managers quickly determine if you’re the right candidate. The more hiring managers understand your current abilities and skills, the easier it will be for them to determine if your qualifications line up with the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers want to hire the most qualified candidates to ensure they can meet and surpass the job’s expectations. Therefore, it’s essential to consider how you’d fit the role by considering your entire work experience and narrowing it down to the most relevant positions.

Tips for deciding how many years to go back on a resume

Here are several situations to consider when determining how many years to go back on your resume.

Industry experience

It’s essential to consider the type of jobs you’ve held and your experience in the industry you’re looking to work in. For example, suppose you were a babysitter 12 years ago, and you’re applying for a job at a daycare facility. In that case, listing your experience as a babysitter may be helpful. Despite it being past the 10-year mark, your previous experience working with children can benefit your career and on your resume. This will likely show hiring managers that you have the qualifications needed for the job they’re hiring for.

Consider the role

Though 10 years is the standard, it’s important to consider the job you’re applying for and the industry. Some jobs such as government positions or academia may require a more in-depth resume with experience listed past 10 years. This provides hiring managers with a complete look at your work history, hopefully including career progression and overall continuity.

It’s also important to consider that the further you go back on your resume, the more likely your experience is at a junior level. If you’re applying for a managerial position, spending too much time on your early experience isn’t enough to show recruiters you’re well-qualified for this senior role. If you’re in this position, spend more time detailing your responsibilities for your most recent roles or leaving off your junior experience altogether.

Industries that change over time

Similarly, several industries adapt to technological advancements. A profession’s in-demand skills can change over time, making it important to keep up as a working professional. For example, suppose you were an accountant before the rise of computers. In that case, you need to work on your skillset to ensure you have the current qualifications for the job.

When you look at your resume, it’s crucial to include your work experience reflecting up-to-date skills, even if you’ve included work experience from long ago. This shows employers that though you have experience from several years ago, you’ve updated your abilities to meet the needs of the changing industry. This typically applies to professionals in the tech industry.

Pertinent titles, companies, or achievements

If you worked at a specific company, held a particular position, or had an accomplishment that will impress recruiters from long ago, consider including it on your resume. You can create a section for earlier work history or career highlights to showcase this experience without it detracting from your relevant experience today. Include honors or accolades in your summary (at the top of your resume) or in an award or accomplishments section (toward the bottom of your resume). This approach draws attention to your accomplishment without listing the job from years ago where you earned it.

Tips for including work experience on a resume

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when listing and narrowing down your work experience.

Trim your job explanations

If you’re unsure whether to include a job given how long ago you had it, consider using it, as long as it’s relevant, and trim the job explanation. Focus on the key skills and responsibilities you had in that role that will help you land your next. This gives you more space on your resume to focus on your more relevant experiences.

Give more focus to your recent jobs

If you’re going several years back on your resume, make sure you give more comprehensive job explanations to your most recent roles. This can also show career progression.

Use a qualifications summary or skills section

Consider including accolades from previous jobs in your qualifications summary. The summary is where you highlight your most relevant skills and accomplishments and introduce your professional career. Also, you can include key skills you learned years ago in a skills section at the bottom of your resume.

Stick to one page

When you create your resume, it’s best to have one page rather than two pages. This helps keep your resume concise and forces you to list only your most relevant work experience—typically positions you’ve held in the past 10 years.

Consider the job’s relevance

As always, the most important thing to consider is the relevancy of your previous positions. If you find it hard to narrow down your selection of jobs to include, consider the responsibilities you had and the skills you learned. The ones that align the most with the job you’re applying for should be included.

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