How Many Years of Work Experience Should I Include in My Resume?
The temptation to list every job you’ve ever had on a resume is hard to avoid. While it can be difficult to project what will catch a hiring manager’s eye, it’s important to not include every last itty-bitty detail of your professional work experience. While you need to show the breadth of your experience, you also need to draw the line at a certain point. Think of your resume as the movie trailer for your job history. By showcasing the best scenes, you draw in a crowd and leave them wanting more. Your aim is to inspire the potential employer to contact you, and everything in your resume should be aimed at landing the interview.
That means, among other things, including jobs from your past that are relevant to the job you’re going after, and prioritizing their inclusion, beginning with most recent or current position, and moving backward from there.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re putting together, or perhaps editing, your resume.
- Stay Current: The industry standard is to highlight up to around 10 years of your career history on a resume. This, in most cases, should come out to around 1-2 pages. Start with your current or most recent job at the top of the Work Experience section, and, as previously stated, go backward from there with profiling previous jobs. Focus on crafting strong, efficiently worded job descriptions for each job you’re listing, and use the active (and not the passive) voice when describing duties performed in each job.
- Stay Educated: Technologies, policies, and procedures related to the workplace, and almost every industry, continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Take classes to keep your skills sharpened so you can ensure employers that you’ve kept up with evolutions (especially anything computer- or software-related) in the work world. Antiquated content on your resume reflects antiquated thinking. No employer wants that. Strip out any outdated skills from the Skills and Abilities section of your resume, and add in current ones. For instance, if you’ve obtained solid working skills from a Google Analytics course you’ve taken, note that in the Skills & Abilities section of your resume (and consider deleting ones that are almost boilerplate at this point, like Microsoft Office).
- Stay Out of the 90s: Unless you have a very good reason, avoid rehashing any work history before the 90s. If you need to go back that far (or even further), consider including a Previous Work Experience section. With this section, you can list jobs without dates. You should really only consider this step if the work that goes back this far is really, truly relevant to the new job you’re trying to secure.