How Far Back Should My Resume Go?

how far back should you go on a resume

This is a common question that most people ask. Many professionals and executives have been working for more than 20+ years. Including every detail/job that you’ve ever held over a lifetime can end up making your professional resume way too long. 

The general rule of thumb is that your resume does not need to go back more than 10-15 years maximum


The exception is if the job experience (more than 10-15 years ago) was absolutely essential for the position you’re seeking and your recent work history does not reflect the necessary background.

An example would be if you were looking to work in sales but have been working in management over the last decade; however, you have sales experience prior to working in management.

The sales experience would show that you have a background that makes you qualified for the position while the management experience alone doesn’t.

Age Discrimination 

Additionally, if you have been working for 20+ years and list all of your jobs you will open yourself up to age discrimination. Unfortunately, this is an unspoken practice that occurs at many organizations.

Your resume is your ambassador and if it immediately reveals that you are a 50-year-old person for a job that is filled with people who are in their 20’s, you can count on being passed up for the younger candidate.

Additional Experience 

One way to include your extensive experience that spans more than 10-15 is by listing a section of “Additional Experience” and simply including the job titles/companies with no dates. This way your resume will highlight the most recent jobs over the last 10-15 years and also show that you have more work history.

Your resume should go back no more than 10 to 15 years to avoid any form of age discrimination. Any jobs prior to this can be listed as “Additional Experience” without specific time frames.

Additionally, if you graduated more than 15 years ago, you can simply remove the year of graduation.

Finally, ensure your LinkedIn profile is consistent with your resume details and how far back it lists everything.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. When Maria is not working, she enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family.

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