How Far Back Should Your Resume Go in 2020


If the summary is a “snack”, then the work experience section is the “main dish” of your document. Personnel managers and HRs read the job history to verify if you have enough experience for a “vacant place”. They also use this report to compare you with other competitors and recognize who is the best fit for their business.  

Your career history explains possible employers precisely what kind of worker you can be. It tells whether you will become valuable to their company or just not suit. That is why it is so essential to design this section correctly.

In this article, you will find answers to critical questions like “How many jobs should I list on my resume?” or “How far back should a resume go for work history?” You will also learn how to draw your resume experience section without expanding and repeating in job descriptions. And many other valuable tips. Read on to know!

How Many Years Back Should a Resume Go

Want to know how many years back should your resume go? There is one very important rule: resume should go back a maximum of 10 to 15 years. After all, this is logical, because no one wants to read 20 years old memoirs (even if they are very interesting). Recruiters simply don’t have time for this! 

The latest information that may be in your document should not be older than 2005. Remember this! Even if in the late 90s you were working in the New York Times, and now you have been unemployed for 10-15 years (for any reason), this information will not help you (unfortunately).

Any data has an expiration date, and for a resume, it is no more than 15 years. Why is this so important? Here are a few reasons: 

  • Your professionalism should always remain relevant, and 15 years is too long to save some skills and abilities. 
  • The recruiter will not read the document, which consists of more than 5 pages. 
  • Employers prefer to hire young and very experienced professionals. If your career began more than 15 years ago, you are no longer young, but perhaps very experienced. In this case, in the last few years, you should occupy only high positions (so, it makes no sense to indicate entry-level jobs).

How far back should a resume go? Once again, make it no older than 15 years. However, the ideal option is 10-7 years of the most significant and exciting positions. It also applies to your studies. No one cares what happened to you 20 years ago, even if you graduated from Harvard with honors. But in case you defended your doctoral work several years ago, this is an entirely different situation! Remember, in 2020, the relevance of information became even more critical than ever.

How Much Work Experience on Resume

Before understanding how many years of experience on resume you should include, answer first how long have you been working? After all, for the entry-level and high-class specialists, there are no identical rules. Let’s take a closer look! 

Work experience section for entry-level 

If you are an early graduate, you should not worry about years of experience on resume. It seems to be obvious, but even in this case, some people manage to write about their first part-time job at McDonald’s. Please do not do it! But what should you do?

  • List all RELEVANT experience in reverse chronological order (for the last 2-3 years).
  • Indicate all your practices, internships, and temporary projects, including foreign ones.
  • Describe the volunteer programs in which you were involved. This section will undoubtedly attract attention, as it will show your desire to develop and the ability to live in multitasking mode.

If you had recent experience working in companies, indicate their full name, the position you held, and the exact time, even if it was a short-term internship of several weeks. Write down exactly what your responsibilities were. Do not limit yourself to one sentence, for example: “I was assisting the head manager.”

Write a little more in detail: “I answered calls and emails of the head manager, assisted at meetings, prepared list of short results at everyday meetings, etc.”

In addition to this, as a recent graduate, your education should still be an essential point in the resume. If you do not have any work experience at all, you should describe all the additional courses, lectures, seminars, and workshops that have improved your qualifications.

Work experience section for top professional

How many years of work experience on resume should mention top professionals? A great experience can be a significant advantage. The main thing is to assess its benefits for the modern market adequately. Fifteen years ago, there was a different market and different tasks. Therefore, better not go into the details of your work in the distant past. So, how to reduce many years’ experience in your paper? 

  • Choose the right direction. A long professional path can contain careers in several industries at once. If you managed to try yourself both in sales and in copywriting, decide how you want to continue your career. Therefore, indicate only relevant and “fresh” experience.
  • Mention the most prestigious jobs. Select for resume only those companies and works that are most beneficial for a new position. 
  • Describe more responsibilities. The name of the company speaks for itself only if it is an industry leader. In other cases, you should focus more on your responsibilities and achievements. Replace the standard expressions with a description of real accomplishments. Measurable results will describe you better than dozens of unfamiliar companies and 20 years of professional experience.

How Many Jobs to List on Resume

How many jobs should you list on a resume? It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or a professional, try to limit your list to 5 jobs. In fact, it will be enough to indicate 2-3 places with key responsibilities. But how to format them correctly? Here is a detailed instruction for you.

  1. Company name. Write the full name of the company. A short abbreviation may not be familiar to the HR manager. Also, you can specify additional data: location, occupation, number of workers, etc.
  2. Position. Your position should be clear. For example, you should not write “manager” or “lawyer” – these are too general concepts. “Deputy Sales Director” or “Corporate Lawyer” are much better options. 
  3. Dates. Indicate the year and month of the start of work and dismissal. The recruiter must understand how long you have been working in one company (3 months or a year).
  4. Responsibilities and achievements. Describe your primary responsibilities. All information should be honest, reasonable, and (we have already mentioned this) relevant to the vacancy.

So, how many jobs should be listed on a resume? Describe the 3-4, most suitable job positions from your career. However, it is worth keeping the chronological sequence. Long “gaps” in employment can cause further questions for the HR manager. But it is permissible if you can explain it with maternity leave, or another logical reason.

How Far Back Should Work History Go on Application

How many years back on resume should you focus? There is no one universal answer since it depends on your specific situation, career ladder, and specialization. However, in any case, the entries in your document should not be older than 2005 (better than 2010). It will help you to present the most relevant and fresh data for a future employer.

Your main task in 2020 is to be easily trained, flexible, and ready for rapid development. Your resume should be the same: “fresh” and professional, complying with all modern standards. 



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