Just about everyone, at some point, has had to put together a resume to go on the job hunt. It’s a rite of passage in the adult world, but few of us have ever gotten a road map on how to write one up.
Do you wonder how many jobs should you list on a resume? You’re not the only one, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to help you streamline your resume and get it in its best form.
- Should You List All Jobs on a Resume?
- How Many Jobs Should You List on a Resume?
- Why is it Important to Determine How Many Jobs to List on a Resume?
- How to Know if a Job Should Make it Onto Your Resume
- How Far Back Should You Go on a Resume?
- Why Shouldn’t You Add All Your Years of Experience on a Resume?
- How Should Jobs Be Listed on a Resume?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
Should You List All Jobs on a Resume?
The most direct answer to this question is probably not. But some caveats can help you decide what to include and what your potential employer doesn’t need to know.
From a bird’s-eye view, you don’t want to have a laundry list of every job you’ve held since you first delivered pizzas in high school, especially if you’re not applying for another delivery job.
Is it Good to Have a Lot of Jobs on Your Resume?
While the answer may depend on what you consider “a lot,” you don’t need a double-digit list of past employers on your resume. You want to do your best to produce a one-page resume (two at the most), and listing every job from your past will unnecessarily increase the length of the resume.
You might also give the impression— whether true or not— that you can’t hold down a job if you have too many past gigs listed.
How Many Jobs Should You List on a Resume?
You should limit your job list to six, seven at the most. At minimum, include three past jobs if you’ve had that many.
Keep in mind, too, that you can limit the jobs you choose to list by focusing on the relevant experience. If you’re applying for a job as a call center representative, your employment history as a forklift driver won’t seem relevant to your prospective employer, but your time in retail sales would.
Why is it Important to Determine How Many Jobs to List on a Resume?
The main reason you want to choose the correct number of jobs to list on your resume is the same reason you’re putting together a resume in the first place: you want to make a good impression on the hiring staff.
Listing enough and not too many jobs, and listing the ones that shine the best light on you as a possible future employee is a way to make you look like the best fit possible for the job you’re pursuing.
How to Know if a Job Should Make it Onto Your Resume
Unless you have only had one other job in your life, your past jobs will fall into two categories: jobs relevant to the one you’re applying for and jobs that aren’t. Irrelevant jobs on your resume will only take up space without adding substantive value to the picture of yourself you’re presenting to the company.
Is it Relevant to the Job You’re Applying For?
Going back to the call center job example, let’s again stress the importance of listing experience showing your suitability for a position. If you’ve had previous call center experience, include it.
But if you worked as a studio musician for a few years, that’s not a job that trumpets “ideal call center employee.” It doesn’t mean you’re an unfit employee, but it’s irrelevant and might serve only to distract the potential employer.
Did You Accomplish Anything You’re Proud of There?
Have you worked a job in which you accomplished great things? It should make the cut. Even if it’s not the most relevant job you’ve ever held, having a job in your past that you can speak about passionately, including about things you accomplished during that time, shows an interviewer that you value your work and can make contributions to an employer.
On the other hand, if your departure from a job was acrimonious, you might think twice about listing it. You never know if the interviewer will contact your past employers, and if you burned a bridge, you might not want your new boss talking to your old one. (The lesson here, then, is “don’t burn bridges.”)
Were You There a Long Time?
A great measure of how well you fit in a previous job is how long you worked there. If you held a job for 15 years, the chances are that you were adept at the job, got along well with coworkers and workplace superiors, and were a responsible employee.
It’s rare for someone who does not match those descriptors to stay in a job for many years, so listing a long-term job can establish you as a quality employee.
Was it Fairly Recent?
If you’re listing jobs you held in the 20th century, you’re probably going back too far. Think how much the world has changed since the days we all worried about Y2K.
The workplace is different now, and unless you held your last job for 25 years, you don’t need to list past employment going back decades.
How Far Back Should You Go on a Resume?
This answer depends on how many years the resume goes back. If you’re new to the workforce, such as if you’ve just graduated from college, you should go back no more than five years.
As someone with an established career, aim for ten years and don’t go back any further than 15 years at most.
Why Shouldn’t You Add All Your Years of Experience on a Resume?
Sadly, one of the main reasons you shouldn’t go back for years and years on your resume is that it could make you look old in the eyes of the hiring crew.
You might experience age discrimination, but the company might simply take a pragmatic approach: “Looking at this resume, I wonder if this person is nearing retirement age. If we hire her, will we have to hire someone new in a year to replace her when she retires?”
How Should Jobs Be Listed on a Resume?
Most experts recommend listing your jobs in reverse chronological order. Starting with your current (or most recent job), include the company name, the approximate start and stop dates you had there, and a short list of duties and accomplishments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everyone has questions, especially regarding something as potentially powerful as a resume. Here are some common ones.
Should I put a 3 month job on my resume?
Unless the job was predetermined to last only three months, or if it’s the only job that you’ve ever had, you can omit short-term jobs. Any job lasting less than six months should probably end up on the cutting floor.
What are 3 things you should not put on your resume?
There are probably lots of things to leave off, but the big three are 1) Lies about what you can do or have done in past jobs, 2) Mistakes in spelling and grammar, and 3) Extra stuff like pictures or too much personal information.
Taking the time to compile a quality resume can do wonders for your job search. The beginning of building a quality resume rests on deciding what jobs to list and which ones are unnecessary.
So how many jobs should you list on a resume? No more than seven, and don’t list more than 15 years’ worth of work experience.
And be sure that those maximum seven jobs you list are relevant to the job for which you’re applying. If you still have questions, ask us in the comments.