How Far Back Should Resume Go (with examples)

The experience section is the backbone of any curriculum vitae. It carries the most significance because; one, it shows the prospective employer what you have undertaken in your professional life. Two, it reveals your career-related capabilities.

Given this much significance, you must write this part properly to appeal to any hiring manager. The best way to go about it is to determine the amount of experience to provide. The trick here is to ensure that you provide a balanced experience section when writing a resume. By writing a long list with many job roles, there’s a high chance you will confuse the hiring manager, on the one hand. On the other one, providing few details on your professional life can significantly undermine your chances of advancing to the interview stage.

So, how can you get everything right? We’ll show you.

How Far Back Should Resume Go in Every Position

How far back should you go on a resume? Typically, your CV ought to cover ten to fifteen years of practice. Nonetheless, some factors will come into play. One, the length of your professional history. Two, freelance roles and employment gaps.

That said, let us see how you can do it in different positions:

Senior Roles

Recruiters always prefer applicants with several years of experience when it comes to senior positions. However, this does not mean you have to list those jobs you took when you were starting.

For these senior positions, ensure you do the following:

  • Provide only relevant experience details spanning 15 years.
  • Respond to the job description appropriately. Usually, years of expertise are specified.

All said, always prioritize suitable experience. Writing a long list of your professional history can make you come off as overqualified.

Mid-Level Roles

For mid-level job positions, experience spanning ten years is the maximum recommended amount. That said, do the following:

  • Focus on the positions valuable for the particular position and describe them in-depth.
  • List other jobs; both short term and freelance but don’t explain them in detail.

Entry-Level Jobs

For these roles, consider doing the following:

  • Write all voluntary and paid roles you hold.
  • Highlight the relevant to the position achievements and skills.
  • Add part-time work, freelance gigs, personal projects and internships.

Applicants without Job Experience

Well, if you don’t have the experience, highlight the following in your CV:

  • Volunteering
  • Internships
  • Positions held in student organizations
  • Practicums

Note, it also helps to learn how to change careers without relevant experience to make your professional life run smoothly.

Academic Roles

Academic jobs need years of proven teaching and research skills. Usually, you will need to provide experience spanning ten years.


How You Should List Old Jobs on a Resume

Confining your experience to only ten or fifteen years can feel like a total waste. It is especially the case if what you did in the distant past matches what you are applying for in the present. So, what to do? The trick is to add an entirely new section. You can call it either earlier experience or additional experience.

Use the format below to provide earlier but relevant jobs on your resume:

Earlier job – Years of experience within the same organization

Staff Accountant, 1999-2009

Jane and Jack, Professional Accounting Services, J&J Co.

Earlier Job – Similar Experience, Different Employers

Professional Accounting Services

  • Staff accountant, 2011-2012
  • Accountant, 2009-2011
  • Accounting assistant, 2003-2009

Remember, no matter how far behind you go on your CV, always do it in reverse chronological order.


Writing a Resume with a Lot of Jobs or Gigs

Millions of workers, including in the US, are employed in the gig economy. These include part-time jobs and side hustles or freelance work. Most of the people working in gigs do it in between full-time jobs or when looking for a job. But what if your most or your entire work history is gigs? Should you list all jobs on resume from your gigs?

You can make the most out this experience by showing off technical and transferable skills you have gained from these jobs. Avoid creating a long list of titles dates, and company names as it will most likely bore the reader. Choose two or three jobs you have previously held that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Then, focus on describing each of them in more detail.

The best format for this resume is the combined format, also called the hybrid resume. That’s because it has features of both the skills-based and reverse-chronological resumes. It’s the best structure for:

  • Professionals making a career change: It helps show skills that may apply to the job one is applying for.
  • Seasoned workers who have a lot of job experience: It assists them in showing off the most outstanding achievements in their career.
  • Job seekers who have employment gaps: It allows an opportunity to highlight their skills even with the missing work history.

For example, if you have worked as a freelance software developer in the past and are applying for a job that is related to IT, you could list the coding languages you are knowledgeable in among your set of skills.


How to Make Your Resume Experience Section Valuable

The majority of hiring managers prefer valuable experience rather than a lengthy list of job experiences that are not important for the job at hand. Therefore, for your resume to earn you an interview, it needs to sum up the relevant experience. It should not be too vague and neither too lengthy. The resume should essentially tell the hiring manager what you have done recently and what you bring to the table now.

How can you make your resume relevant to the job?

  • Ensure the job description and resume match
  • Identify what the employer’s needs are and make sure your experience addresses them
  • Focus on quantifiable achievements to show that you fit the requirements of the job

So, rather than worry about how many jobs you list on your resume, concentrate on highlighting the most appropriate ones. If, for example, you are applying for a job as a marketing specialist, focus on marketing-related work experience on a resume. Some of these include public relations, retail or sales representatives, advertising experts, etc. Other posts you have held in the past, such as a waiter or gym instructor, should be left out as it won’t be relevant to the position.

You can use the job description to describe each job you intend to list in your work experience part. Start by reading the job offer to identify the company’s needs. Then, list duties and responsibilities you’ve held in past positions making sure you highlight the skills they are searching for.

To wind up, how many years of experience you put on your resume depends on the actual job you want. But remember that a standard resume can list work experience going up to 10 years. However, it should ideally not go further than 15 years. You can consider creating a distinct section that lists old but gigs/ jobs if they are relevant to the job you want to get. Be sure to pay attention to relevance as opposed to length and avoid making dumb grammar mistakes. Always stick to work experience that will get the attention of the recruiter.