How Far Back Should Your Employment History Go?

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.


Twenty Questions You Should Answer Right Now So You Can Add Achievements To Your Resume

Twenty Questions To Pinpoint Achievements For Your Resume

By now you would need to be living in a cave to be unaware that in order to make your resume really shine you need to add in some of your achievements. This is relatively easy to do if you work in a field like sales where you have targets you can add in but can be tricky when it comes to a more generalised field such as administration. In order to help you out with this I’ve compiled a quick list of things for you to think about when it comes to writing out your resume achievements. Example answers:

Responsible for resolving a key client supply issue that saved the company from losing a contract worth $50,000.

Delivered a presentation to 50+ new clients on our service delivery expected outcomes resulting in positive feedback from both our clients and management

Responsible for payroll and superannuation services for 150+ staff according to a strict one week deadline

  • Have you ever resolved a problem or issue at work? What was it? What was the result?
  • Have you ever trained other staff members either formally or informally? How many? What was the response?
  • What special projects have you been involved in? What was your contribution?
  • Have you ever implemented a new system or idea that was well received by staff or management?
  • Have you ever presented in public? In front of how many people?
  • Do you manage people in your current position? What is your leadership style? How many people do you manage?
  • Have you ever resolved a dispute that led to positive outcomes?
  • Are you a member of any committees or volunteer groups such as the OH&S committee or the social club committee?
  • Do you chair meetings or act as treasurer during meetings in your current role?
  • Have you brought in new clients or been part of an advertising or marketing campaign?
  • Do you work with cash? How much cash do you handle on a daily basis?
  • Are you responsible for the business newsletter or any extra duties not listed as part of your job description
  • Have you written any procedures, policies or manuals for your position?
  • Do you have sales targets you need to meet? What are they and by how much do you exceed these?
  • Do you have customer service feedback forms? What has your result been?
  • Have you completed any professional development or training not already listed on your resume?
  • Do you have other key performance targets you need to meet? What are they? At what percentage rate do you achieve them?
  • Have you ever been featured in the staff newsletter, professional publications or received other positive media attention
  • Have you ever had an article published?
  • Do you have any tickets or licenses not listed already on your resume?

If you would like more questions to jump start your thinking, I have a free questionnaire with spaces for you to write your answers and lots more questions available for free download here: