Career Advice – Job History Beyond 15 Years

Feb 23 2011 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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Today’s career advice discusses best practices in listing experience more than 15 years past.

Many experienced candidates have no idea what to do with their older history, more than 10 or 15 years old.

Some leave it off their resume, somehow hoping that will make them appear younger (hint – the grey hair and wrinkles will be a dead giveaway, even if you’ve botoxed your face more than Joan Rivers). These candidates write novels about what they did 15 years ago, as if an employer really cares what you did that long ago.

There’s no rule saying you can’t list older experience, but why would you want to go into the gory details? Is 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.

Let’s start by understanding that 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: “Job Seekers – Tell your readers WIFT (What’s In it For Them)” http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/03/17/job-seekers-tell-your-readers-wift-whats-in-it-for-them/).

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.best career advice, best job search information, career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info, best career advice, best job search information

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: “Do You Recognize These Early Warning Signs of an Egocentric Resume?” http://www.recareered.com/blog/2010/06/25/do-you-recognize-these-early-warning-signs-of-an-egocentric-resume-best-of-recareered/) jam-packed full of examples detailing 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?

best career advice, best job search information, career advice, job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career information, career help, career tips, career info, job search info, best career advice, best job search informationEven if you’re Superman and saved the world from certain destruction 20 years ago, future employers 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.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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