Should I List Every Job I’ve Ever Had on My Resume?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

Our clients often ask us: “should I include every job I’ve ever had on my professional resume?”

The short answer is no. There’s no reason you need to include every job you’ve ever had on your resume.

After all, your resume isn’t a legal document. There’s no law stating that you must include all of your work history on a resume. The only exception is if you’re applying for a federal government job, which may require that you include specific pieces of information.

Plus, including every job you’ve ever had could potentially turn your resume into a four- or five-page document depending on how many years you’ve been working. A one-page resume is ideal, although there are recent studies showing that employers prefer a two-page resume.

How Far Back Should My Resume Go?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

Any jobs that are not relevant to your current career path can be left off your resume. This may include jobs you had in high school or college like waiting tables, bartending, tutoring, pizza delivery, etc. It’s also not uncommon for recent graduates to continue working these types of jobs while they are looking to land their first opportunity in their desired field.

If you’ve been away from the workforce for a while, or you have 20 or more years of experience under your belt, then just include the past 15 years of employment history on your resume. This not only helps keep your resume concise but listing your full job history may reveal your age to an employer. While it is illegal, some companies may still adhere to ageist hiring practices. 

Should I Include Short-Term or Temp Jobs on My Resume?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

If you’ve had a short-term or temp job that gave you skills or experience relevant to your chosen career field, then keep it in your resume.

For example, if you’re interested in a career in finance or accounting, then you should include the 3-month-long gig you had at an accounting firm during the busy season. Are you interested in early childhood education? Then your summer job as a camp counselor may be relevant to prospective employers and should be included in your resume.

Just be sure to note on your resume that you were specifically hired as a short-term or contract employee. That way, an employer won’t assume you were only at a certain job for less than a year due to a performance issue.

However, if you took a temporary job working as a gift wrapper during the holiday season or were a ski instructor during winter break, there’s no need to include those jobs.

If not including those jobs leaves a gap in your work history, you give a simple explanation to your interviewer. Tell them that you took a job to generate income while waiting for an opportunity (like this one) that was in your chosen field.

Which Long-Term Jobs Belong on my Resume?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

Deciding which of your long-term jobs to leave in your resume is a bit harder. Omitting a long-term job may result in a more noticeable gap on your resume. You’ll need to have an explanation ready when it comes time to interview.

Perhaps you were taking time off for a family emergency or you went back to school. Maybe the truth is that you are looking for a job in a competitive field and you’ve been dedicating yourself to your job search full time.

Most employers will understand a reasonable explanation for a gap in long-term employment experience. Just make sure you’re telling the truth. 

Then again, you may be in a situation where you want to list all your work experience on your resume, including jobs that you had 15 or more years ago.

Maybe you worked for a prestigious company when you first started out. Or you or were at a company during a time of innovation or unusually rapid growth. Having that on your resume could look good to a prospective employer.

One way to include that work history without turning your resume into a novel is to list the name of the firm, your position title, and the years you were employed there.

Do not list details about your responsibilities. If anything, you can list one or two major accomplishments, if they were truly noteworthy. This technique gets the relevant information on your resume without it taking up too much real estate on the page.

How Can I Make an Employer Focus on the Best Parts of My Resume?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

You can control how an employer will read your resume not only by deciding what words go on the page, but how the page is formatted.

Some people decide to break their resume into two categories: Relevant Experience and Additional Experience.

Relevant experience goes up top and includes all the employment history that relates to the position you are currently going for.

If your “additional experience” consists of mostly freelance work or temporary gigs, then you may want to use the terms Consulting Experience, Freelance Work, Contract Employment, or something else in lieu of additional experience.

Let’s say you’re going for a position as a computer programmer but had experience in customer service prior to gaining the skills and education needed for your preferred career path.

Here’s an example of how you may include that additional experience on your resume.

Additional Experience:

  • 2012–2014 Customer Service Associate for Apex Industries, Boston, MA
  • 2010–2012 Customer Support Specialist for Allied Dental Partners, New York, NY

Another option is to use a skills-based resume format. This type of resume is used when you want to emphasize your skills and accomplishments rather than your chronological work history, which may include gaps.

This type of resume is good for those who change careers or those without a long work history, such as recent college graduates.

Here’s an example.

Technical Skills

  • Certification in Google AdWords and Analytics
  • Certified WordPress Developer
  • Expert in Adobe Creative Suite

Communication Skills

  • Experienced public speaker.
  • Experience writing blogs following best SEO practices.

Work Experience

  • January 2020–April 2022: UX Design Specialist, Albert Marketing, San Antonio, TX
  • March 2018–June 2019: Production Designer, Albert Marketing, Austin, TX


How Are Resumes and Job Applications Different?

how many jobs should you put on a resume

Lastly, we want to point out that you may be required to complete a job application as well submit a resume for certain jobs. There are important differences between these two documents that you should be aware of.

As we’ve explained, a resume is a document that is totally within your control. You dictate what information appears on it.

A job application, on the other hand, is a bit different. If the application asks you to list all your recent work experiences, then it would be best for you to list all jobs as far back as you can go. This includes short-term gigs, contract work, long-term gigs, and anything other type of employment where you received a W2 or a 1099 for tax purposes.

Expect your prospective employer to conduct a background check. If the job application and information they’ve gathered don’t match, then it may look like you were purposely withholding information, which may cost you the job.

Your Resume Doesn’t Need to Include Every Job

Deciding which jobs to include or leave off your resume can be a challenging task—especially if you have a long and successful work history.

The experts at Empire Resume can help you create an impressive resume that will help you get the job you deserve. Contact us today for more info. 

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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