How Much Experience Should I Put on My Resume?

Easy question, easy answer. Show all of it! (So long as it helps lend to your Pro-Personal Brand) You absolutely need a chronological listing of your employment on your resume that dates back at least 10 years. 

Have you been working for less than 10 years… well, then you need to include all of it! (some exceptions to this rule are detailed below!)

We all know to put the most recent position first, including all your accomplishments (or the “results” you produced) while in the position, and include some of them most important skills you needed that were necessary to achieve those results. 

Hint: include the skills you know the hiring manager is likely looking for in the role they are filling.  

But what about all the experience before that? 

Here are a few tips:

First and foremost, consider the mindset of the hiring manager… include the information for each position that will matter most to them:

  • What are the gaps and why?
  • How do these jobs relate to the current position they are trying to fill?
  • Was this person effective? Did they make a difference in the organization?
  • Will they be effective in my organization? Will they add something special? 

Once you have the mindset down, here are 5 tips that will get you through a great experience timeline build:

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

Do you put all work experience on a resume? ALMOST ALL jobs that have skills relevant to the one you’re applying for should be included. Serving at XYZ Restaurant may not seem important, but experience interacting with people definitely can be. If that’s what you have, flaunt it… If you have 3-4 current positions that are better: focus on those. 

If you missed it, skip it

Can you leave a job off of your resume? Massive Fail at one of your previous jobs with potentially terrible references? It is ok to leave 1-2 positions off your resume website, and off your resume entirely… In fact, it’s particularly reasonable if you were there for less than 90 days, and if you are turning in a succinct one page resume.

Keep it simple, silly

As you get deeper into it, feel free to transition to a list format. For example, include 2-3 bullets point for your first 2-3 positions. After that, just put the title and dates (unless you have something stellar to say)

You CAN fit it all on one page

If you think all your experience is relevant to the position you’re applying for, just put shorter descriptions that highlight the skills you want employers to see while keeping it to one page… how do you do this??? You need to hyperlink your resume to pages on your resume website.

This one is a biggie: Include gaps in your timeline

Include any gaps in time, such as “took time off to care for sick mother” or “global pandemic and economic crash.” If your history looks like you were “job hopping,” that’s ok! As long as you include your reason for leaving, short term tenures won’t raise much of a red flag. Plus, various skills can be a very positive thing to most employers.

Some of the strongest candidates are those who’ve added skills in other, seemingly unrelated fields. Remember, it’s all about how you present the information.

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