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How Many Years You Should Go Back on a Resume?

How Many Years You Should Go Back on a Resume

When drawing up your resume, there is always the tricky part of deciding on how much information it should contain.

You want to include as much as possible to convey your total experience. However, including too much can easily turn it into a long-winded, uninteresting piece. Some roles may be so far back that they are no longer relevant to the position you are pursuing.

So, it begs the question, How Many Years You Should Go Back on a Resume?

Take a Look ↓↓↓

Let’s find out…

how many years should you go back on a resume

Consider The Position You’re Applying For

If your prospective position has evolved a lot and is continuously changing, going too far back may deem certain positions redundant. It would be safe to say that you should not feature much beyond the past 10 to 15 years.

For example, if you are in the realm of IT, mentioning desktop support jobs from 2004 will have no advantage to your current role as a cellphone app developer. In the same manner, your time as a fast-food server in college will not be relevant to the position either.

Only include what’s relevant!

However, if you are a math teacher, the principles of the subject matter will have remained unchanged, even if teaching methods may have evolved from the blackboard.

In this case, your years of experience will be to your benefit, especially if you have traceable positive references. In this case, you may include your entire career, long past the 15-year mark.

How To Prioritize And Cut, If You Must?

The ideal resume should not include more than two or three pages, except if it has an addendum to a portfolio or hyperlinks to evidence of their work, as many creative professional resumes do.

First, sort them from the most impressive to the least impressive positions, prioritizing your experience in the position you are applying for. If you have numerous job titles that may have different requirements, you may need to tailor a few drafts to fit each role. Include as much detail as possible without getting too wordy.

Relevant Position Example Template

Digital Content Creator: Nov 2018 – Jan 2023

Employer: XYZ Pharmacy Group

  • Articles and blogs: WordPress, Shopify, daily fresh content.
  • Goals: Increasing online sales by recommending products, educating readers on various topics.
  • Themes include Childhood development, health, wellness, fitness, beauty, cosmetics, local news, products, and services.
  • Copywriting for all advertising (emailers, campaign slogans, social media, google ads, bulk SMS, print media, and radio advertising).
  • Online store product descriptions.
  • Internal communications: newsletter.

Once you get to more redundant positions, you can focus on how they helped you with certain soft skills and include an honorable mention of them instead:

how many year should you go back on the resume

Redundant Position Example Template

I have had other roles that are not relevant to the role I am pursuing, but has offered me insights into the work environment, mentorship, teamwork, loyalty, conflict management, customer service, and life skills:

  • Administrative assistant – Sachs Corp, Jul 2017 – Jan 2018
  • Server – Paul’s Pizza, Jun 2014 – Jun 2016
  • Camp counselor – Summer camp, Jun-July 2013

This will show more of your experience in the workforce without irrelevant details, and if the prospective employer is interested enough, they will ask you for more information during the interviewing process. This will also close unnecessary gaps in your employment and offer insights into personal interests you may have.

Educational Background Info

You can approach your educational background your resume in the same manner as you did with your career. Prioritize what is relevant, and only mention the rest in brevity. That said, even if you have a college degree in your field, every course in it won’t be relevant. So, for one resume version, you will mention the subject matter most relevant, and on another, perhaps the other half.

If you are younger than, say, 23, your high school achievements and extra-curricular activities may pander to the soft skills angle. Especially if you are still participating in some of the activities such as competitive chess or sports. However, if you are beyond a certain age, it becomes less important and may only serve as an interest or hobby.

Perfect Your Entire Resume With Us!

The online handbooks are endless! So, I’ll give you my top choices, beginning with The Resume and Cover Letter Phrase Book: What to Write to Get the Job That’s Right and the DIY Résumé and Cover Letter Kit: Everything You Need to Create Your Own Professional-Quality Résume, or even the Lose the Resume, Land the Job, which I found intriguing!

Next, we move on to The Resume, Cover Letter, Portfolio Handbook: The Comprehensive Guide for College Students and Job Seekers, or perhaps you’d like to know how to write One-Page Resumes That Get Results!: An Uncomplicated and Quick Guide, or the Ladders Resume Guide: Best Practices & Advice from the Leaders in $100K+ Careers.

Lastly, I highly recommend How to Write the Perfect Resume: Stand Out, Land Interviews, and Get the Job You Want, and how to Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed…Get Hired, along with the Resume: Writing 2023 The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume that Lands YOU the Job! and finally The Damn Good Resume Guide, all available online in 2023.

Final Thoughts

Unless your friends or family are in management positions, they may give you biased feedback on your resume. Much to your detriment, they may even try to spare our feelings. Or, in some cases, do not pay much attention to the content at all and simply say, “It looks fine!” That’s why it is always best to ask a former boss, or a recruitment service, to take a look at your resume.

This will give you an idea of whether you have elaborated enough on the most relevant information and if your resume contains too much clutter.

Additionally, you will be sure that your resume has not gone back too many years and that it focuses on what you would like the prospective employer to read. You can send one version and, based on their feedback, adapt the other versions of your resume.

Hope you have success in writing your new resume!

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About Calvin Miller

Calvin has over 20 years of experience in a leading employment agency in Tucson, Arizona, and is passionate about finding the perfect position for everyone who uses the company’s services.

He lives with his wife, Annette, and their two sons Jake and Joseph.

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