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How Far Back Should You Go With Your Resume?

It’s a question I get asked all the time. Nearly everybody that comes through my Resume Writing Service asks the same thing – How many of my jobs should I list on my resume?

You can watch the video above that explains it all or read on and I’ll give you a brief run-down.

Usually 4-5 of your most recent positions BUT there are exceptions to this rule.

Rule 1 – If listing your last 5 jobs takes you back to the 70’s or 80’s – don’t do it. I’m iffy about the 90’s these days as well but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

Rule 2 – If you held a whole bunch of short-term contracts – you might want to take your job history far enough back to show a job you were stable in (provided it wasn’t in the 80’s or 70’s.

Rule 3 – If you previously worked in an industry but for the past 4-5 jobs have been doing something different then absolutely go back far enough to show your experience in the industry. (but see rule 1 first).

Let’s look at some scenarios to clarify the rules:

Example 1: Jane used to work as a Retail Assistant from 1975-1980. Since then she had been working in administration. Jane wants to return to Retail. Should Jane list her retail experience on her resume as it is relevant to the job?

No, Jane should not list her retail job from the 70’s on her resume. Because (a) it shows her age and sadly we have a HUGE problem with age discrimination and (b) being a Retail Assistant in the 70’s is NOTHING like being a Retail Assistant in 2017. No EFT, No Credit Card processing, No Automatic Cash Register etc.

Instead Jane should highlight the customer service experience she gained through her administration roles in her professional profile, achievements and role descriptions to showcase her transferable skills.

Example 2: Joe used to work as a Workplace Health and Safety Officer from 1999-2004. But since then has had (6) jobs as a Sales Rep for the next (6)  but now wants to go back to Workplace Health & Safety. Should Joe list his previous experience on the resume?

Yes, the easiest way for Joe to do this is to add in a career summary that shows his dates, company name and job title for his work history and nothing else AND then write a title ‘Workplace Health & Safety Experience’ on his resume where he elaborates on the Workplace Health & Safety Officer job in great detail. This shows he has a work history and hasn’t been lying on the beach for the last few years while also minimizing the sales experience and focusing on the Workplace Health & Safety role.

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