How Far Back on a Resume Can You Go? (With Templates)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A resume is a crucial job application document that lists out your experiences for hiring managers to review. They may want to know how far back your experience goes for certain skills. Knowing how far back to go and how to list older jobs on a resume can help you create a more comprehensive application and potentially increase your chances of getting an interview. In this article, we explore how far back on a resume can you go and provide some work experience section templates for older jobs.

How far back on a resume can you go?

If you're wondering how far back on a resume your work experiences can be, many professionals typically list at most five years of experience on their resume. Depending on how far along your career and the type of roles you've had, you can consider going as far back as 15 years. Listing experience from within the last 10 years of your work history can help showcase your most important skills and contributions to previous employers, and also shows an employer your career progression.

Employers typically look for candidates with specific experience, and if you have multiple years in an industry, you might be a more viable option for your prospective employers. Including any experience beyond 15 years isn't common, but showcasing your entry-level experience may show an employer your dedication to the industry. Some career options may require your entire work history to determine the extent and significance of your experience. For example, a teaching position or civil service position might require a candidate's entire work history to establish their key skills, commitment to previous employers and career progression.

Related: 14 Powerful Resume Words to Impress Your Recruiter

How to determine what experience to include on a resume

Determining what experience to include on your resume can help you create a more professional and cohesive application. Consider these steps before crafting a resume to ensure you're including relevant experience for the position you're seeking:

1. Determine what experience is relevant to the position

Depending on the position you're seeking, some job experience may not be relevant. If you're applying for more senior-level jobs, you can consider omitting entry-level positions. Avoid including experience in other professions unless there are overlapping job duties and skills. Consider including only jobs that exist within the same profession or industry or required similar skills and education as the position you're currently seeking.

This can help reinforce the key skills your prospective employer wants in candidates. For example, if you're a receptionist trying to switch to a sales career, you can include your customer service experience, since both positions require some similar skills. Including similar skills helps show an employer that despite your lack of specific industry experience, you can offer some transferrable or universal skills to the position that make you a good match.

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2. Consider the job level and how your experience supports the application

Consider the level of the job you're seeking, whether it's an entry-level position at a new company or in a new industry or a senior position that might require significant experience. The job level typically helps determine the required amount of experience. For entry-level positions, you can typically include only up to five years of experience to showcase your most recent skills, whereas senior-level positions might require up to 15 years of experience. Senior positions often have more specialised job duties, diverse skills and industry experience, so hiring managers often require more supporting information.

3. Create a resume that reflects the job description requirements

Tailor your resume to reflect the skills, education and specific experience an employer includes in a job description. Job advertisements typically include the required experience level in the description, so ensure to read each job description thoroughly before creating your resume to determine how much experience to include. If the job description doesn't list a requirement for experience, consider including up to five years of experience to show the employer that you possess the right skills for the position. Consider prioritising applying for job openings that best match your qualifications.

4. Include prestigious experience

Sometimes, the type of experience can matter more than the amount of experience. If you've worked for a prestigious organisation or held a position where you gained many achievements, it can play an important role on your resume. List these job experiences and include relevant personal or organisational achievements that you helped accomplish. For example, if you helped a previous employer gain renown in the market through product innovation or awards for service, you can include this on your resume to impress your next employer. You can include minimal details and expand on this during the interview.

5. Consider the length of your resume

The length of your resume can also influence the number of jobs you include in the experience section. Resumes are commonly one page long, but can be up to two pages long for more experienced candidates. If including more experience changes the length of your resume, consider determining which roles are more relevant, unless a hiring manager requests a full experience list. Candidates who have little to no experience can easily keep their resumes limited to one page, but the more experience you gain, the longer your resume may be.

How to leverage older experience on a resume

Leveraging the older experience on your resume can highlight your career progression and the skills you've gained. Consider these steps to more effectively leverage your oldest experiences:

1. Divide your experience section into two parts

To maximise the experience section on your resume, you can divide it into two parts. You can include your most recent experiences in the first section, highlighting recent skills and job duties that might match the employer's requirements. In the next section, you can include older positions up to 15 years in the past that highlight your career progression and any specific awards or recognition you gained in the industry. Separating these sections can help employers scan your resume more easily for the information they need without reading the entire experience section.

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2. Create a career highlights resume section

A career highlights section on your resume can showcase the most important milestones in your career. Career highlights typically include any major achievements in a particular industry, any major changes you made to a company or process or any innovative strategies or products you created. You can include this section at either the very beginning of your experience section to attract a reader's attention or at the very end to supplement your experience section and reinforce that you're the best match for the position. These achievements may become a conversation topic during an interview.

3. Include some information in your resume summary

A resume summary is a short synopsis at the beginning of a resume that explains what to expect when reading the document. Try to cover each aspect of your resume. This may allow hiring managers to determine quickly if your application is worth reviewing. Consider mentioning keywords you can extract from the job description and your most relevant qualifications for the role.

Templates for older experience on your resume

Here are some templates for older work experiences:

Experience five years ago or more

Some employers might want candidates to include over five years of experience. Many mid and senior level positions require at least five years of experience. Consider referencing this template if you're including experience from five years ago or more:

[Job title]
[Company name]
[Dates of employment]
[Bulleted list of duties or accomplishments]

  • Duty

  • Duty

  • Duty

Different positions at the same company

You might have significant experience with a single employer. This can showcase your commitment to a career path and the good relationship you have with previous employers. Consider this template if you're including experience in different roles within the same company:

[Company name]
[Job titles in list form with dates]
[Key duties or accomplishments]

Related: How to Include Volunteering on a Resume (With Examples)

Similar experience with different companies in the same industry

If you change jobs during your career, you might gain similar experience with different companies. It's important to show an employer that, despite your job changes, you maintain your skills and use your experience to excel in each new position. Consider this template if you have similar experiences in the same industry:

[Job title]
[Company names]
[Dates of employment]
[Key duties and accomplishments]

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