How Far Back Should You go on a Resume?

How long should your resume be? It’s a complicated question, and most people assume it should be a comprehensive list of everything you’ve done in your career. But going back too far can work against you.

Here are a few simple rules you can follow regarding what to include and how long your resume should be.

Keep it Current

The rule of thumb with your resume is to stick to the last ten years. You don’t need to dig too far into your past, especially if you’ve had a long job history. Make sure you include your current position and the last two or three, depending on the time frame. You can think of your resume as a living document. Keep a running tab on what you’re doing in your current career, so it’s easier to update your resume a little at a time rather than when you need it.

Focus on Accomplishments

Right now, a big resume trend is to focus on professional accomplishments rather than specific duties for each job you’ve ever had. So rather than saying you have experience with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, focus on how you’ve used these tools to assist a previous employer. For example, “Created spreadsheets in Excel to track department expenses saving over $10,000 in 2019.”

Know When to Keep and Leave Off Dates

There are some instances where leaving the dates off your resume is not only acceptable but a good idea. The most common date to leave off is in your education section. If you’ve recently graduated, you don’t necessarily want the employer to think you don’t have enough experience. If you graduated over twenty years ago, you don’t want them to avoid you because you’re overqualified.

Make it Relevant

The most important thing to consider when including experience on your resume is whether it’s relevant. You want to focus on the most relevant experience, which is why creating an accomplishments section can help. Then you can list your previous jobs without a lot of details in the job descriptions. That allows the potential employer to focus on why they should hire you rather than getting caught up in your timeline.

Do you want help putting your best foot forward in your job search? Contact Nextaff today.


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