One question applicants deal with is, “How many years should a resume go back?”
It’s a challenging question because some job positions require a lot of experience.
Luckily, determining the number of years to include depends on your specific situation.
The main rule is not to go back more than 10 or 15 years.
Hiring managers go through thousands of resumes. Thus, including every accomplishment or work experience may tire them out.
Keep the resume detailed with pertinent information the recruiters are looking for. So, how many years should a resume go back?
The answer varies based on your work history.
It’s a bit of a balancing act because you have to show recruiters that you have enough experience for the job while avoiding burdening them with too much information.
Let’s dive into some guidelines when determining the timeline to include in a resume.
- Can You Leave Years Off Your Resume?
- Why Does the Timeline of Your Resume Matter?
- How Many Years Should a Resume Go Back?
- When Should You Remove Old Jobs From Your Resume?
- How Many Jobs Should Be Listed on a Resume?
- Is It Okay to Have a Resume Gap?
- How Long Should a Resume Be?
- Wrapping Up
Can You Leave Years Off Your Resume?
Yes, you can leave certain years off your resume.
It is advisable to leave some years off if they are not vital to the job position you are applying to. But some roles need a complete history of your work life.
For instance, careers in academic professions demand a complete history. Keeping your experience current is the best way to write your resume. Avoid going back longer than ten years, as this may be information the recruiters aren’t after.
When deciding “how long a resume should be,” consider if your experience is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Leaving off more years can work to your advantage as it focuses the recruiter’s attention on your skills.
Age consideration is one factor that influences whether a candidate gets shortlisted for job positions. Leaving some years off your resume can distract recruiters away from your age.
Why Does the Timeline of Your Resume Matter?
The timeline of a resume matters because it shows your journey in the specific career.
Recruiters and hiring managers use the timeline to determine your eligibility for the available job position.
Shows the Hiring Manager Your Work Experience
Recruiters will look for any information on your resume that indicates you qualify for the job.
The timeline of your resume demonstrates to recruiters your work experience. Including many years on the resume doesn’t necessarily translate to much work experience.
Instead, focus on the timeline that demonstrates your experience in the advertised vacancy. Recruiters are more likely to give your resume a good read if the timeline is not exaggerated.
Shows the Hiring Manager Your Most Recent and Relevant Experience
The more years you spend in a profession, the less relevant your earlier work history becomes. Thus, a timeline of your work history should not contain every job you have had since graduation.
Keep the timeline relevant and include all recent work experience related to the advertised position. A timeline helps recruiters decide if applicants still possess the skills needed for the job.
Hiring managers don’t have time to read through every experience you had.
Tailor your resume’s timeline to align with the relevant work experience recruiters are looking for.
Makes It Easy To Get a Quick Understanding of Your Experience
A resume’s timeline gives recruiters a quick understanding of your experience. Hiring managers want to know, in the fastest way possible, if you qualify for the job.
Today’s economy is fast-changing. Thus, your resume’s timeline is vital to helping hiring managers get a clear picture of what you bring to the table.
How Many Years Should a Resume Go Back?
The number of years a resume should go back varies based on the nature of the profession.
Limit your work history to the last 10 to 15 years to ensure the resume is clear, concise, and straight to the point.
But you can include more than 15 years in your resume if it’s relevant to the vacant job position.
How Far Back Should a Resume Go for Education?
The field of education requires an exhaustive resume. Hence, it’s okay to include achievements and work experience longer than the past 15 years.
If you aren’t a recent graduate, you should place your education history after your work experience.
You can also include academic qualifications dating more than 15 years ago, but don’t add the date or graduation year so as not to throw off the recruiter with your age.
The most recent information related to education should come first. This helps give you the image of someone who is still in their prime and prevents the risk of ageism.
How Many Years Should a Resume Go Back for Work?
The number of years a resume should go back depends on the position available.
A recent graduate or student should include about 1 to 2 years of work experience in their resume. Young professionals can include work experience going back 2 to 5 years.
“When to use a one-page resume?” is a common question that most job applicants struggle with.
Recent graduates and young professionals have minimal work experience, and hiring managers understand this situation. Thus, it’s expected that your resume won’t have a lot of years of work experience.
Experienced and mid-level professionals can have their resumes back more than five years. Mid-level professionals are individuals who have worked between 5 to 10 years.
You can go back more than ten years in your resume if:
- You switched careers, and there is a gap in your resume
- The information is highly relevant, such as developing a patent or making a significant achievement
- You held a high-level title at a prestigious company
When Should You Remove Old Jobs From Your Resume?
Removing old jobs from your resume is an effective way of keeping your timeline brief.
Write your resume so that jobs you did more than 15 years ago don’t appear. Ensuring your resume doesn’t have old jobs makes it concise, relevant, and clear.
You should remove old jobs you did if:
- They were short-term, such as summer jobs
- You did the jobs a long time ago
- The jobs didn’t add any unique value or skill relevant to the position you are seeking
How Many Jobs Should Be Listed on a Resume?
Generally, you should include about 3 to 7 jobs you have done in your resume.
The number of jobs on a resume will vary based on an applicant’s work experience and career type.
You may have to include all your jobs if you are applying for a position in an academic institution or the government.
Including every job you have handled in the past will only wear out the hiring manager. The details you provide for all the jobs included in the resume should also vary.
For instance, go into detail about the first 2 to 3 jobs that are most recent and relevant. Then, mention other jobs briefly by stating:
- The position you held or the role you played
- The company name
- Date of employment
- Name of employers
How Many Jobs Is Too Many on a Resume?
If the jobs you have listed on your resume go back more than 10 or 15 years, then those are too many. You can list as many jobs as you want if they are relevant.
For instance, mid-level professionals don’t need to include their summer jobs as students. If necessary, list the jobs in your resume with as little detail as possible.
Is It Okay to Have a Resume Gap?
Yes, you can have a gap in your resume and use it to your advantage.
For instance, you can re-frame the skills and experience you acquired to give yourself an edge over other applicants.
How Long Can a Resume Gap Be?
A resume gap shouldn’t be longer than several months or a year. Hiring managers and potential employers will consider a big resume gap a serious red flag.
But you can explain why there is a significant gap in your resume by providing valid reasons, such as:
- Health issues
- Taking care of a baby or an ailing family member
- Pursuing further education
- Building your own business
How Long Should a Resume Be?
Normally, a resume shouldn’t be longer than two pages. Some resumes can be longer than two pages based on work experience.
One of the tips for a better resume is to keep it short. Aim to make the resume as brief as possible, especially if the vacant position doesn’t have a lot of requirements.
How Long Should a Resume Be for 20 Years Experience?
1 to 2 pages is still the ideal length of a resume representing 20 years of work experience. The resume can get to 3 pages if the information provided is brief and relevant.
The resume length can even exceed three pages if you are a senior executive or seeking a high-level position.
When applying for a job, one of the common questions is, “how many years should a resume go back?”
The best answer is to include work experience that doesn’t go beyond the previous 10 or 15 years.
Limit your resume to 1 or 2 pages as hiring managers will likely lose concentration on anything longer.
But let the job position you are applying for guide how you write the resume.
Some positions require a lot of detailed information on past work experience.
Having a detailed and brief timeline of your resume matters because it signifies your experience and skill set.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions on how to summarize your work experience perfectly in your resume.