How Much Experience Goes on a Resume?

Career Blog Jill-Klees

Q: I will be graduating soon and am updating my resume. I have worked at several places in the past, and was wondering are we supposed to list every place we’ve worked at in our resume? How far back do we go? Are we supposed to list work places that we think will be the most relevant? What if that creates a gap in the work history?

A: The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview so it is advisable to go back only 10 – 15 years in your work history. The reason behind this is that you want to include your most recent and relevant experience. This is what employers are most interested in and going back more than 15 years can date you and you want to avoid that in today’s competitive market. Keep in mind that a resume is not a compilation of everything that you have done. It is a current document that highlights the best of what you have done as it relates to and supports the position you are applying for.

You do not need to list every job you have ever had but you also do not want to leave gaps on a resume. Even work that does not directly relate to the position you are applying for can include accomplishment statements that demonstrate transferable “soft” skills such as communication, customer service, interpersonal, working with diverse clients, collaboration, etc. These types of skills can transfer over into almost any work environment and you will see these skills listed on most job descriptions.

For more information on transitioning your past work experience over into your new resume, review the Resume section on iSchool Career Development and pay close attention to the Career Transition section http://ischool.sjsu.edu/career-development

Feel free to ask questions or make a comment.