Resume Writing Tips: How Far Back Do I Go on My Resume?

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: Resumes | Tags: , , , , , |

There is a lot of information floating around about how far back a candidate should go on his or her resume. Frankly, much of it is conflicting. In recent years, the trend has been to include about 10-12 years of work history on a resume. For different reasons, many professional resume writers will not include any information for jobs prior to that range. They will cite issues like potential age discrimination, lack of employer interest, and space considerations. All are valid reasons, with the age discrimination argument as the possible exception, but that is a story for another time.

Generally, recruiters will ask you to go back further and add much more detail. This will expand the number of opportunities they have to place you, which may be good for their commission, but may not be so good for you, the job seeker.

You may have friends or colleagues that tell you to include anything and everything since you received your working papers. They will tell you that full disclosure is a necessity.

So What Do I Do?

Look, there is no hard-and-fast rule when preparing a resume. It really is more art than science. It primarily does depend on the type of position you are pursuing, the depth and breadth of experience you have, the quality of accomplishments, and many other facets. I like to include job details going back about 10 or so years and then provide a footnote that lists position titles and company names, nothing else. This strategy provides the reader some context for how you started out and how you got to where you are today. Most importantly, it does so without demanding more time of the hiring manager (who likely does not have it to begin with) and without taking up critical space on the page. And for those HR reps and hiring managers who like to practice age discrimination, which I feel is few and far between, you are not providing them dates by which they can estimate your age.

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2 Responses to “Resume Writing Tips: How Far Back Do I Go on My Resume?”

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These days, employers aren’t necessarily looking for a narrative of your career. They’re primarily looking to see if you have the skills and knowledge that will benefit their company. It’s best to pick and choose your experience to highlight the skills that will be attractive to the hiring manager. Research shows your resume only has 15 seconds to make an impression, don’t waste them by telling a “career story” that doesn’t immediately tell him or her why you’re best for the job.

The dilemma that most people today have is that it seems like they have no idea the place to look for a new job. Online job searching is slowly getting more preferred and so this could be the route for you.


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