You may be tempted to include every job you’ve had on your resume to show the depth of your work experience, but if you’ve been in the workforce for many years, or have shifted careers, you may want to reconsider acting on that impulse.
A resume is a work summary to showcase your most current and applicable skills and experience. Recruiters and hiring managers try to connect an applicant's work summary with the job requirements. So what's wrong with listing every job you've had? Over time, technologies, work functions, and service and operational standards evolve, so hiring companies may weight (place more importance on) your more recent work. To keep the focus on your most relevant work experience, you can eliminate older jobs from your resume. Generally, jobs that you have held over 10-15 years in the past are considered less relevant.
Another reason to limit your work experience is to keep the resume length to one page – two at the very most. Chances are, there are many applicants for the same job, and when there's a lot of resumes to get through, a longer resume can hurt rather than help your chances. Consolidate your experience, focusing on what you've done in the recent past with the job description.
When your work experience is highly relevant to the position you applying to, but is older than 10-15 years, you may still want to include that on your resume - especially if this role shows career progression. For example: maybe you worked several positions in the hotel industry, starting 20 years ago as a housekeeper. Over the years, you moved through various front-of-house positions. The position you’re applying for now is a manager role for team of housekeepers. It’s relevant to include that first job because it shows you know first-hand the challenges of the employees you’d be managing, and that you have an overall understanding of how various hotel departments intersect.
Another reason to reach back further in your work timeline is if you’re looking to return to an industry. In that case, still focus on the relevant skills learned in your more recent work history. But listing an older job in the industry you want to re-enter provides important context. It shows that you have a long-term interest in the work that wouldn’t be obvious if you listed only the past 10 years of work.
When employers are looking to fill several, various positions, it may work in your favor to include older work experience - especially when you have a diversified work history. Showing that you're a good candidate for a number of roles can increase your chances of getting hired. Call out these positions, but limit the amount of space they take on your resume.
If you need to show older work experience to tell your work story, below the 'Work Experience' section on your resume, create an 'Additional Experience' block . Simply add the roles and companies; there’s no need to include years. It can look like this:
Shift Supervisor and Trainer, Good Food Restaurant (City, State)
Cashier and Stocker, Best Natural Foods Store (City, State)
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