— October 30, 2017
When you’re just starting out in your career, it can be a struggle to feel like you have enough information on your resume to attract hiring managers. On the flip side, once you’ve acquired a significant amount of experience, the challenge is figuring out what do with it all. Do you list the early days when you were an entry-level employee learning the ropes? How far back should you really go?
In truth, there is no cut-and-dry answer that applies to every situation. It will depend on your career history and where you’re headed moving forward, plus what the employer wants to see. If a requirement is that you have at least 15 years of experience in the field, your resume better include all of those years. However, a general rule of thumb is to elaborate on the past 10 years or so. But then what do you do with everything past that date? Here are a few ways to tackle that information:
- Consolidate previous job experience with just the company, title, and years.
For positions that you held 10+ years ago, turn them into a short and simple list labeled “Additional Professional Experience.” Chances are, the work you have done since is more impressive and important anyway. If there are major achievements you want to bring attention to, add a single bullet point or two just mentioning those accomplishments but not elaborating on your entire position.
- Avoid duplications
When elaborating on your work experience, try to avoid repeating points that you already mentioned in another position. If your roles were incredibly similar, consider listing them together. Remember that you want to focus on results- and action-oriented statements that show employers what you can do; you’re not giving a laundry list of your responsibilities.
- Leave older jobs off
If you’re concerned about space or ageism, leave older jobs off. If your resume starts at 2005 with a Senior Manager role, it’s fairly safe to assume that you didn’t jump into this position right out of college and that you have previous work experience. When applying online you often have to fill out a more detailed employment history anyway, and previous jobs will be included there. Plus, you can list all of your jobs on your LinkedIn profile, and when a potential employer is scoping you out, they can see everything there.
Your resume is a document to highlight your career and potential – it is not an autobiography. You are not obligated to include every job you’ve ever held or task you’ve ever done. Focus on those roles, projects, skills, and accomplishments that best support where you are headed with your career.