Learn How Far Back You Should Go When Writing Your Resume

You’re launching a job search, so it’s time to write or update your resume. When it comes to that all-important work section, how far back should you go in listing previous jobs and professional experience?

There’s no cookie-cutter formula, and the decision needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. But there are some accepted guidelines you can follow to help ensure your resume stands out from the pack when reviewed by a recruiter or applicant tracking system.

The 10 to 15 Year Rule

Consider your industry, experience level, and qualifications, and make your resume a high-level summary of your relevant professional accomplishments to show that you’re the best person for the job.

    Most experts recommend covering the most recent 10 to 15 years of your career. For most people, this covers an average of three to five jobs. Ideally, this time frame allows you to show a comprehensive overview of where you started, how you’ve advanced, and where you are now.

    Be concise. As you advance and gain more experience, a two-page resume is fine. But if yours is longer than that, recruiters may not take it all in – or worse yet, they may skip it entirely if they’re inundated with applicants.

For Recent Grads and Entry-Level Pros

If you only have up to two years of professional experience, you can also include relevant academic, volunteer, work, and personal achievements on your resume. (These, along with your entry-level jobs, will likely drop off over the years, but for now, they can be an asset.)

    Highlight your transferable skills. This is important at any stage of your career, and especially now. Show how you applied leadership, communication, organizational, teamwork, or problem-solving strengths in-class projects, extracurricular roles, or part-time jobs while in school. And, of course, include any relevant internship or apprenticeship experience.

Two to Five Years’ Experience

You can probably eliminate much of your college experience at this stage of your career and use valuable resume space for job-related highlights. You can also demonstrate your professional prowess outside of work, for instance, involvement in professional organizations.

For More Experienced Pros

After about the five-year mark, start to focus your resume solely on roles and responsibilities that have clearly enhanced your qualifications for your desired career move. This may mean downplaying or omitting early positions to elevate more relevant experience as your main focus.

Returning to the Job Market?

If you’ve taken a break from your career to raise a family or for another reason, you likely will have to go back a little further to round out your resume. If so, explain upfront why this is the case. You can do this in your cover letter or resume summary at the top of the page.

    Still, keep in mind how relevant your experience has been. If you’ve cone something in the meantime, such as volunteer or part-time work that has helped keep you up to date in your field, include it.

The right job is closer than you think. At PrideStaff Fresno, our best-in-class approach has helped thousands of candidates find it. From resume prep to networking, interviewing, and sealing the deal on your next career opportunity, contact us today. We look forward to sharing in your success!