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How Far Back On Resume For Work History

Find A Job That’s In Demand:

Tips for job seekers: How far back to go on a resume

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Here are three reasons why you should use certain keywords throughout your resume.

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Your resume will catch the eye of employers by including these six highlights.

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For those who would readily return to a previous employer, it can be hard to determine how to get back on the team.

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Robert Half | August 29, 2014

What you leave out of your resume is almost as important as what you put in.

College Graduation Date On Resume

There is no need to include your college graduation date unless you’re a recent college graduate. Here’s an example of college listed on a resume without dates:

Bachelor of Arts in EnglishUniversity of New York

Here’s an example of a college graduation date listed on a resume:

Bachelor of Arts in English, 2020University of New York

Many people choose to drop their graduation date from their resume when the degree was earned 10 years prior. If you are worried about age discrimination, leaving off this information is a good way to shield your age.

Customise Your Career History To The Job Youre Applying For

Finally, its important to tailor your career history to different roles youre applying for. Review the job description and make sure your career history matches the required skills. You can do this by mirroring keywords used in the job ad, or by highlighting certain responsibilities and achievements over others. If your career history addresses the job youre applying for, your resume is sure to get noticed.

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To Achieve Optimal Page Length

Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all approach to CV writing, there are some industry standards worth paying attention to. In this case, it’s the two-page CV length rule.

If your CV is too long, chances are a prospective employer will miss reading some of your best bits. You may leave the time-poor recruiter disgruntled rather than optimistic about your potential.

Therefore, remove jobs that are older than 10 to 15 years to slim down your CV so that it fits onto the standard two pages recruiters prefer.

Including Additional Dates On Your Resume

Resume how far back

If you’ve taken professional development courses or other educational classes, it’s not necessary to list dates. If you have certifications, you should list the dates because employers will want to know that your accreditations are current.

When leaving experience and dates off a resume, do it strategically.

A resume, for example, with only a few jobs when you’re an experienced candidate or a resume with no dates at all, can be a red flag for hiring managers. Be sure your resume provides a clear synopsis of your work history to employers.

If the positions you held earlier in your career are relevant to your current objectives, consider shortening the descriptions of your jobs to reduce the length of your resume rather than deleting the positions from your resume.

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How Far Back Should A Resume Go In 2021

ZipJob Team

6 min read

One of the most common questions our team of professional resume writers get from job seekers is “how far back should a resume go?”

When you have spent many years building your career, you have a lot of experience you want to include on your resume. Many people include decades of experience on a resume and it could be the reason why their resumes aren’t getting any callbacks or interview requests!

The truth is, you donât need to list every position youâve ever held on your resume.


Your resume can–and should–be a selective document tailored for a specific job. That means you only need to include your skills, experience, and qualifications that will help you in that position. You don’t need to include a comprehensive list of your professional life: that would be a CV instead of a resume.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly how far back your resume should go and explain why.

How Far Back To Go On Your Resume

For most industries, you can list the past 10 to 15 years of your work history on your resume. Limiting your experience and professional achievements to the past 15 years can showcase your most recent capabilities and work contributions to employers.

Including career history beyond 15 years usually shows experience in a lower position, which may not show your most current skill set and abilities. Even if you include the information, recruiters may only focus on your most recent history. However, you can consider including earlier years if it helps you demonstrate career progress and increases your credibility.

The number of years you can go on a resume can also depend on the job requirements. It is important to include only the experiences relevant to the specific position you are applying for. Doing this can provide more space to describe important achievements and responsibilities that show you as an ideal candidate for employers.

Some careers, such as civil service and academia, often require you to provide complete employment history. In technology industries and other fields where skill sets change quickly, keep your resume as short as possible. In most cases, it is often safe to limit your resume work experience to the last 10 to 15 years unless the employer requests a full career history.

Related: Listing Professional Experience on Your Resume

Read Also: How To Upload Resume On Indeed

When To Go This Far Back On A Resume

If you’ve been in the same work for 15 years or longer, you’re exempt from this rule. In that scenario, your perseverance, experience, and dedication may make you a more attractive prospect.

Applicants with a lot of experience, on the other hand, may be viewed as out of touch or difficult to teach. As an older professional, your goal will be to persuade hiring managers that you are eager to learn and that your years of experience make you a more useful team member.

How Far Back Should Your Employment History Go

Resume Tip: How Far Back Should My Resume Go?

Generally, its okay to include up to 15 years of experience but not more than that. Most industries change a lot in 15 years, which renders any experience thats older than that obsolete.

If you have been working less than 8-10 years, go back to the beginning of your work history and try to tailor your resume to be relevant for the job youre applying now.

Avoid writing about every single job youve held. This overwhelms employers and makes them lose interest. Instead, only use previous work experience at least a bit related to the opportunity you want.

If youve worked more than 10 years as an executive, consider starting your work history at the point you became a manager. Most hiring managers dont care what your first job was. They want to see how you progressed since you started as a manager.

Of course, if a job requires 20 years of experience, then definitely should include more than 10 – 15 years of experience on your resume.

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How Far Back Should Your Resume Go

Work experience clearly matters but how much of it should you include on your resume? Ultimately, it depends on your level of experience. Lets look at different scenarios for more and less-experienced job seekers:

Work History for Experienced Job Seekers

If youre established in your field and have a lot of experience, your resume might go back a decade or more. The rule of thumb is 10-12 years, notes George.

For extremely experienced applicants, more isnt always better. Theres no hard and fast rule, but I typically go back 15 years for senior-level professionals, says Chase. If there are relevant roles or great brand names, I add an Additional Experience section without dates so this helps prevent unconscious age bias.

Work History for Job Seekers With Little or No Experience

What if youve been in the workforce for less than a decade or if youre a recent grad, changed careers, or have little to no work history in the field?

In cases like this, your experience section might not speak for itself. Therefore, Chase advises bringing attention to your strengths in other areas of the resume, such as your professional summary statement. I recommend adding a profile section at the top that explains who you are including your key strengths, she says. You can include a statement about what youre pursuing and why to help bridge the gap between your experience and the role youre looking for.

Changing Careers and Work History

Employers Can Quickly And Easily Scan Your Resume

Including many years of experience can make for a very cluttered resume: small font, no margins, too many words.

The average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether an applicant is worth further consideration a cluttered resume simply requires too much work for a hiring manager who has possibly hundreds of resumes to review.

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How Many Years Back Should A Resume Go

Want to know how many years back should your resume go? There is one very important rule: resume should go back a maximum of 10 to 15 years. After all, this is logical, because no one wants to read 20 years old memoirs . Recruiters simply dont have time for this!

The latest information that may be in your document should not be older than 2005. Remember this! Even if in the late 90s you were working in the New York Times, and now you have been unemployed for 10-15 years , this information will not help you .


Any data has an expiration date, and for a resume, it is no more than 15 years. Why is this so important? Here are a few reasons:

  • Your professionalism should always remain relevant, and 15 years is too long to save some skills and abilities.
  • The recruiter will not read the document, which consists of more than 5 pages.
  • Employers prefer to hire young and very experienced professionals. If your career began more than 15 years ago, you are no longer young, but perhaps very experienced. In this case, in the last few years, you should occupy only high positions .

How To List Experience If Youre Changing Careers

Years of employment on resume

If youre pursuing a career change, your resume shouldnt revolve entirely around your employment history. After all, thats all in the past now. Instead, you should highlight your transferrable skills. You need to show how you can use the skills from your previous career in the new one.

Because of that, the hybrid resume format is the way to go.

In the employment history section, briefly outline your work history. Only mention those positions where you acquired skills that are relevant to the new position. You can also mention any relevant volunteer work.

Try to find any keywords that relate to your past experience. Look closely at the qualifications in the job description and tailor the bullet points in your work history to highlight that applicable experience.

Focus less on the duties and more on your transferrable skills. These are any skills that you can transfer from one career to another.

For example, if you have a background in journalism and want to apply for a copywriting position, the obvious shared keyword here is writing.

Even though you dont have any copywriting or marketing experience, you do have expert-level writing skill that you can use in the new field. That’s a transferable skill. Try including these in your work experience section.

Also Check: Apply For Two Jobs Same Company

How To Handle Gaps In Resume

If you are stepping back into employment after a long gap, such as raising children, a long-term injury, taking care of family, or even getting a PhD, you can address this in a brief summary at the top of your resume. While it may feel uncomfortable to be so upfront, being honest about the gap can garner respect and mitigate the risk of the employer seeing it as a red flag.

Mistake #: Not Putting Facts Numbers And Accomplishments

If your resume employment history is full of phrases like, Responsible for, then youre missing a big opportunity to impress employers.

They want to see specific accomplishments in a past position, like, Led a team of 4 people to reorganize client on-boarding program, resulting in a 23% increase in client retention year-over-year.

Heres how to write great resume bullets like this.

Recommended Reading: How To Add A Promotion To Your Resume

How Far Back Should I List My Work History

Most recruiters and hiring managers will consider any experience beyond the past 10-15 years outdated or irrelevant. This is especially true in industries where there have been rapid advancements . In these industries, anything past the most recent 10-15 years experience isnt just irrelevant, its outdated. However, this isnt true for every industry so take a solid evaluation of your industry, whats changed, what is the same, and whether that prior experience will be a differentiator for you in todays job market.

Its likely that any experience prior to 2000 or even 2005 can safely be removed from your resume without doing any harm.

Lead With Your Work’s Outcomes

Executive Resume Advice 2021: How far back should an executive resume go? ð¤

An effective strategy for your work-history resume section is to write the result of your work before listing the problem and action. This allows you to lead with the most compelling aspect of your accomplishment.

For example: Reversed an annual $2 million decline in market share by streamlining the benchmark process and building a top-flight sales team.

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Use Older Experience Only If Its Relevant

Job ads list most skills hiring managers are seeking in candidates. Refer to the job posting to see which particular skills are called for. If you notice a skill listed on the ad that you havent used since the 1990s, you can and should still fit that skill onto your resume.

For example, if the job ad calls for experience writing in the COBOL programming language, its fine to include a role from two decades ago:

PROGRAMMER, SFJ Software Inc., 19992003

As you can see from this example, such mentions can include just one bullet point that showcases the skill from the job ad. Theres no need to list other responsibilities linked to the old position unless they also directly relate to the job posting.

How Far Back Should Work History Go On Application

How many years back on resume should you focus? There is no one universal answer since it depends on your specific situation, career ladder, and specialization. However, in any case, the entries in your document should not be older than 2005 . It will help you to present the most relevant and fresh data for a future employer.

Your main task in 2020 is to be easily trained, flexible, and ready for rapid development. Your resume should be the same: fresh and professional, complying with all modern standards.

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How To Write A Work Experience Section If Youre An Artist

Artists are, well, different. Because of that, it probably comes as a no surprise that their work experience is different too.

In short, as an artist you should say goodbye to wordy descriptions and focus almost entirely on your portfolio. But you already know that, dont you?

There are several options available and its only up to you which one will suit you the best. Polish up your social media profiles, create your own website, make sure to upload your portfolio to Behance or Dribble.

Work Experience Section For Top Professional

How Far Back Should A Resume Go

How many years of work experience on resume should mention top professionals? A great experience can be a significant advantage. The main thing is to assess its benefits for the modern market adequately. Fifteen years ago, there was a different market and different tasks. Therefore, better not go into the details of your work in the distant past. So, how to reduce many years experience in your paper?

  • Choose the right direction. A long professional path can contain careers in several industries at once. If you managed to try yourself both in sales and in copywriting, decide how you want to continue your career. Therefore, indicate only relevant and fresh experience.
  • Mention the most prestigious jobs. Select for resume only those companies and works that are most beneficial for a new position.
  • Describe more responsibilities. The name of the company speaks for itself only if it is an industry leader. In other cases, you should focus more on your responsibilities and achievements. Replace the standard expressions with a description of real accomplishments. Measurable results will describe you better than dozens of unfamiliar companies and 20 years of professional experience.

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Curate Your Content: Tips For An Effective Experience Section

Thinking about how far back your resume should go is only part of the equation for a successful experience section on your resume. Not only do you have to consider what you choose to include, but how you choose to convey the information.

Cleverly curating your content all starts with understanding the role youre applying for, advises Chase. I recommend reading through the job description, highlighting the key things youve done, and including in your resume, she says. If it doesnt have a lot of detail, you can look at similar job descriptions and see if you can find more information. Its also helpful to talk to people in that role to understand their main responsibilities.

From there, you can aim any of your work history in the right direction: use keywords or emphasize skills or achievements in past roles to demonstrate that your talents are transferable.

George advises telling a story with each entry in your experience section. Your work experience adds value to you as a professional and person, she says. Figure out what that value is by identifying what did you learn then apply and focus on the relevancy to the job.

To really take the experience section of your resume to the next level, George suggests making sure each entry includes these three elements:

A problem that you solved on a project or in a role The action you took to resolve the problem The results/positive outcome.


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