Job seekers often wonder how many positions they should include on their resumes. Although there isn’t a set number for how many jobs you can feature, you want to ensure that the information you’re providing is advantageous to your current career goals. Determining whether the content you’re including will strengthen your application is a fundamental building block for constructing an accomplishment-driven document. Throughout this guide, we’ll help you identify the right approach to older experience during the resume-building process.
Ideal Number of Jobs to Include on the Resume
Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t an ideal number of jobs you should aim for as you build your resume. Instead, evaluate whether your previous positions are relevant to your current career goals. In most cases, it’s best to focus on including as much content as possible for your three most recent positions and keeping older jobs brief. If you’re an experienced job seeker, you can include as many positions as you’d like as long as your document doesn’t exceed the two-page mark. You can also visit our topical authority page on this subject for more information on creating a concise resume for the job search.
How to Identify Relevant Work Experience
Identifying relevant work experience can be more complex than you might think. For example, if a position isn’t directly related to your current field but has objectively impressive accomplishments, you may want to consider keeping the job on your resume. Remember that some achievements and skill sets are transferable across fields. For instance, if you were managing a team to execute a multi-million-dollar project, you wouldn’t want to omit this detail simply because you’re pursuing a role in a different field. Consider whether the information you’re providing will help you to make a positive impression on the hiring manager and remove content that doesn’t support this objective.
Should My Resume Only Cover 15 Years of Experience?
This again comes down to whether the content will enhance the strength of your job application. Many resume writers and career coaches recommend only covering up to 15 years of professional experience on the resume, but there are exceptions to this rule. If the experience that you’re thinking about incorporating helps to further substantiate you as a thought leader within your space, it might be worth it to mention a position, even if it was from 20 years ago.
While you want to focus primarily on content from your three most recent jobs, you should feel comfortable including older accomplishments if they can help you to tell your story better.
Will Older Positions Invite Age Bias?
One concern that many job seekers have is the risk of inviting age bias by including older positions on the resume. While this can be true in many instances, if you feel that a position from 15 years ago has accomplishments worth highlighting, you shouldn’t let the fear of potential age bias prevent you from doing so. In fact, emphasizing your career achievements is often the right approach for overcoming these types of obstacles during the hiring process. If information doesn’t provide valuable insights to enhance your application, you’re probably best leaving off some of your older experience.
Eliminate Internships If You’re an Experienced Job Seeker
If you have ten or more years of experience, you can feel free to remove old internships from your resume. Including bullet points describing entry-level experience isn’t ideal for a senior-level professional applying for a management position. The only situation where you may want to consider mentioning an internship at this stage of your career is if removing the content will disrupt your professional timeline. In this case, you can simply list the internship in an additional work experience section to avoid a timeline gap.
Maintain a Complete Professional Timeline
One issue with eliminating jobs from the resume is that this tactic may create gaps in your employment history. This is normally an area of concern for hiring managers, so you’ll want to ensure that you avoid fully omitting positions that will cause a break in your timeline. If you feel that a position is not relevant or may hurt your application, one potential solution is to include the dates, company, and employment title in an Additional Experience section. This will allow you to save space on your document and keep your content focused on your relevant work experience.
Combine Similar Experience
If you received a promotion at your current company and held many of the same responsibilities across multiple roles, you may want to consider combining this experience to save space on your document. Here, you could include the dates for each position above the company title and craft bullet points that feature your most impressive accomplishments during your time with the organization. This way, you’ll be able to showcase the promotion without redundant content. This will make all the difference during the job hunt.
Include Additional Information on Your LinkedIn Profile
If you decide to omit older experience because it doesn’t fit your current career goals or you don’t have room on your document, you could include these details on your LinkedIn profile. While you’ll still want to be careful to avoid creating an employment gap on your resume, you can use LinkedIn to provide a fuller overview of your professional experience. Unlike the resume, there isn’t any real downside to having a lengthy profile, so you can feel free to incorporate older experience here.
Focus on Accomplishments
When describing roles from the earlier phases of your career, you’ll want to avoid mentioning day-to-day job responsibilities and instead focus on highlighting your most significant accomplishments. If the hiring manager is evaluating a position on the second page of the document, the expectation is that you have a good reason for including it, and they won’t be interested in reading through a list of mundane job duties. Using numbers and metrics to your advantage can also be a valuable tactic to help older bullet points stand out.