Should I show more than 15-20 years job history? Job Search Question Of The Week

Jan 22 2010 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

This was a question from a participant in my complimentary Resume Revolution Webinar.

Question: “Should I show more than 15-20 years job history?”
– PF

There’s no rule saying you can’t, but why would you want to? Is the detail of what you did in your work 15+ years ago relevant to your next job? I guess if you are in a job function and industry that hasn’t changed much in the past 15 years, and your next targeted job is exactly what you’ve been doing for the last 15 years, than including that is ok.

But few job seekers look for the same position, the same level, or same job as 15 years ago … and few job functions haven’t changed in 15 years.

Your resume isn’t an autobiography – it shouldn’t be about what’s important to you, but rather, what’s important to your reader, the hiring manager (See:

Will your reader really care what you did 15 + years ago? Sure, if you were a dishwasher 15 years ago, and you’re a dishwasher today then your employer might care if they want the world’s most experienced dishwasher.

There is an advantage to showing historical employment, however. It demonstrates continuous employment and a list of past employers.

I usually recommend to my clients that they just include a single line with the employer, title, and date. In a sense, it’s a place marker to demonstrate employment … and that you weren’t in jail during that time period (yes, I’m being serious).

But this isn’t what I typically see from candidates.

Most candidates submit an Egocentric Resume (see: jam-packed full of examples of what the employee is most proud of, rather than what the employer cares about.

Do you think your next employer is really interested in the fantastic job you did 20 years ago?

Even if you’re Superman and saved the world from certain destruction 20 years ago, your next employer won’t care because it’s not solving their problems. Plus, if it’s been 20 years since you bailed out the planet, you’re no no longer a SME at saving the earth anymore (Exception: If you’re the only one remaining from that epic battle, and no one else has rescued the planet in the last 20 years, then I guess you’re the only SME – maybe not so likely in your own circumstances, but you get the point, right?)

Therefore, for most circumstances, I recommend listing older full time jobs as a single line.

As your experience becomes less recent it’s also less relevant. I would devote less space positions farther back than the past three and older than 10-15 years.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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