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How Far Back Should I Go Back On My Resume?

When it comes to crafting a resume, one of the most common questions job seekers have is, “how far back should I go on my resume?” The answer to this question is not always clear-cut and can depend on a number of factors, including your level of experience, the relevancy of your past roles, and the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for.

In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to include the past 10-15 years of your work experience on your resume. This timeline allows you to highlight your most recent and relevant experience while still demonstrating a robust professional history. However, there are certain situations in which you may want to go back further or shorter.

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding how far back to go on your resume:

Your level of experience

If you’re just starting out in your career or have less than 10 years of experience, it may be appropriate to include all of your relevant work history on your resume. This will help to demonstrate your career progression and show that you have a strong foundation of skills and experience.

If, on the other hand, you have a significant amount of experience (20+ years), you may want to consider leaving off some of your earlier roles in order to focus on your most recent and relevant experience.

The relevancy of your past roles

If you’ve had a long career with a variety of roles, some of your earlier positions may not be relevant to the job you’re applying for. In these cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave off these roles in order to focus on the experience that is most applicable to the position you’re seeking.

For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position and your first job out of college was working in retail, it may not be necessary to include this role on your resume. Instead, you can focus on your more recent marketing experience.

The specific requirements of the job

If the job you’re applying for has specific requirements or qualifications, you may need to include more or less of your work history on your resume.

For example, if the job listing specifies that the ideal candidate has 5-7 years of experience in a certain field, you’ll want to make sure that you include at least that amount of experience on your resume. On the other hand, if the job listing doesn’t have any specific requirements, you can use your judgment to decide how far back to go on your resume.

The overall length of your resume

While it’s important to include all of your relevant experience on your resume, you also don’t want to overwhelm the hiring manager with too much information. If you find that your resume is getting too long, you may want to consider leaving off some of your earlier roles.

In general, a resume should be no longer than two pages. If you’re struggling to fit all of your experience onto two pages, you may need to prioritize your most relevant experience and leave off some of your earlier roles.

Industry standards

Depending on your industry or field, there may be specific expectations for how far back your resume should go. For example, in industries such as academia or research, it may be expected that you include all of your relevant publications, presentations, and teaching experience.

On the other hand, in industries such as technology or finance, it may be more common to focus on your most recent and relevant experience, leaving off some of your earlier roles.

It’s a good idea to research industry standards and take them into account when deciding how far back to go on your resume. You can do this by reviewing sample resumes and job postings in your field, or by reaching out to industry professionals for advice.

Tips for Including Older Experience

If you do decide to include older experience on your resume, there are a few things you can do to ensure that it’s presented in the best possible light:

Summarize earlier roles

If you’re including roles from more than 15 years ago, you don’t need to include as much detail as you would for more recent roles. Instead, provide a brief summary of your responsibilities and accomplishments in those roles.

Focus on transferable skills

Even if your earlier roles aren’t directly related to the job you’re applying for, you may have developed transferable skills that are relevant to the position. Focus on highlighting these skills and how they can benefit the company.

Highlight accomplishments

Regardless of how old the experience is, it’s always important to focus on your accomplishments rather than just listing your responsibilities. This helps to demonstrate your impact and value as an employee.

In conclusion, when deciding how far back to go on your resume, it’s important to consider your level of experience, the relevancy of your past roles, the specific requirements of the job, and industry standards. By taking these factors into account and presenting your older experience in a compelling way, you can create a strong and effective resume that showcases your skills and experience to potential employers.

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