Finding the Perfect Balance: How Far Back Should Your Resume Go in 2023
Need help understanding how far back a resume should go?
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Crafting a winning resume that strikes the right balance between showcasing your experience and keeping it concise is a common challenge. But the answer isn’t always straightforward. In fact, it can depend on several factors, including your experience level and the industry you are applying in.
But no matter what, it’s important to remember that in today’s job market, hiring managers and recruiters have limited time to review applications, so it’s crucial to make sure essential information is presented clearly and concisely.
So let’s explore the best strategies for highlighting your most relevant (and impactful!) experience to create a professionally written resume that grabs attention—quickly!
3 key takeaways
- Determining how far back your resume should go
- Understanding when to extend your resume to two pages
- How to optimize your resume so you get more job interviews
How far back should a resume go
So, how many jobs should be on your resume? Well, the general rule is to cut any job experience extending past 10 to 15 years. Going too far back can clutter your resume with unnecessary details.
Remember, you’re saving space and communicating the most applicable information by only including your most recent 10 years of experience. By structuring your resume this way, the person reading it can quickly get a good idea of relevant positions and what you did in each role.
Typically, one page is a good length for your resume.
For experienced workers with a career background above 15 years, showcasing the last 10 years of relevant experience is enough to communicate your knowledge.
As you progress in your career, your skills and expertise naturally grow and develop, making it unnecessary to include entry-level positions on your resume. Embrace your professional growth and highlight your achievements as you showcase your experience.
Does my resume need to be one page
When considering resume length, a one-page resume is often considered the best resume format, as it provides a concise and focused overview of your qualifications, work experience, and compatible skills. And it’s particularly useful for entry-level job seekers or those with limited work experience—where every detail counts.
However, for more experienced professionals, it might be appropriate to have a two-page resume, especially in industries that require a high level of technical knowledge or specialized skills, like academia or c-suite positions.
In such cases, a two-page resume allows for a more comprehensive description of work experience, accomplishments, and qualifications that can help demonstrate suitability for the role. It is rare, though, to have a resume be more than two pages.
So let’s take a look at some situations that require different resume lengths and determine which one best fits your current job search.
If you’re a career pivoter, your resume should focus on the transferable skills and achievements throughout your career journey that are compatible with your desired new path.
It’s less about how far back should your resume go and more about bringing your transferable skills to the forefront.
When crafting your resume, keep the length to one page, with a clear and concise summary at the top that highlights your transferable skills and key qualifications. A functional resume—a resume that focuses on your skills and experience over your work history—is best.
Remember, what you include depends on the position you are applying for, so think of any out-of-the-box examples that align with the job description.
New college graduate
With limited career history, your resume likely won't go back very far. So highlighting your college experience is the best way to showcase your knowledge and proficiency.
When crafting your resume as a recent graduate:
- Showcase any relevant coursework or projects to your resume
- Incorporate leadership experience whenever possible
- Using part-time jobs, volunteer experiences, and relevant internships can fill your professional gaps
Entry-level job seeker
Entry-level jobs help get you into your desired industry and serve as a stepping stone toward your dream job. Since these jobs are usually the first step, your resume should include recent roles and only go as far back as 10 years.
If you are applying to entry positions during your job search, below are ways to go beyond just showcasing your previous roles.
- Play up your transferable skills: Skills like critical thinking, self-directed, organized, and creative are transferable across almost all industries.
- Show your personality: Being a strong culture add is also essential to many organizations. Share your personality by incorporating relevant unique hobbies and personal interests on a resume or any extracurricular activities, groups, or clubs you’re part of.
- Share your why: Hiring managers want to know you are passionate about the role and your potential for professional development, so tell them why this particular job is important to you. Why do you want to work for that company?
After a few years in an entry-level position, the next step in your journey is to move up to a mid-level position. These roles come with more responsibility—leading to valuable experiences as you build your career.
The appropriate resume length for mid-level professionals is one-to-two pages, and, once again, only includes the most recent 10-to-15 years of work history.
For these types of positions, it's important to focus on:
- Previous roles that align with the job listings
- Specific accomplishments that demonstrate your abilities
- Quantifiable results
Education and training should also be included by concisely highlighting any degrees, certifications, or courses relevant to the position.
For some experienced professionals, going beyond 10 or 15 years is necessary. Leadership and executive jobs, for example, often require more than 15 years of relevant experience.
By the time you reach the executive level, you’ll likely have more than a decade’s worth of experience. Some seasoned professionals log 20 or more years before they take on a more executive role.
Recruiters and hiring managers looking to fill leadership roles want to see the earlier work history and assess steps these candidates took to become leaders (and the skills learned along the way).
If you’re applying for a job that requires more than 10 years of relevant experience, limit your bullet points to your two-to-three strongest achievements.
What to put on a resume
Being strategic with what to put on a resume and what information to leave off is critical to making a positive impression on potential employers. And you don't need to hire professional resume writers to achieve this.
Prevent a cluttered resume by only including highly relevant information that directly aligns with the job you are applying for.
Your contact information and target title
Your name, professional email address, and phone number are the first thing to put on your resume. Another helpful piece of information to include is your LinkedIn URL. Without this information in your resume introduction, a hiring manager can't contact you.
Including a target title (that corresponds with the job description of the role you’re applying for) also shows you understand the position.
Your professional summary
Your professional summary serves as an introduction to potential employers. Think about your strongest selling points as a candidate. These belong in your summary.
It’s also key to remember to:
- Keep it concise
- Tailor your content to the job description
- Include metrics
- Use strong action verbs for resume
Compatible work history and skills
You'll demonstrate a track record of success and impact by highlighting only the most relevant, impactful achievements from your work history and skills that align with the job description.
Use the AI integration feature within Teal's AI Resume Builder to generate achievements. To get quality, metric-driven achievements, make sure to attach a job description to incorporate relevant keywords.
Education and certifications
By including your educational background, pertinent certifications, notable projects, and awards in your resume, you significantly enhance your chances of grabbing attention. These additions provide concrete proof of your skills, expertise, and accomplishments, reinforcing your qualifications.
Additionally, these resume enhancements effectively convey to hiring managers that you actively pursue professional development and consistently strive for excellence in your field.
Need additional inspiration? Explore Teal's comprehensive selection of resume examples across a variety of jobs by seniority level, industry, specialty, and more.
What to leave off a resume
To help your resume stay clean, well-formatted, and easy to read, it’s necessary to leave some information off the document.
When crafting your resume, leave off the following:
- Irrelevant work experience that doesn’t apply to the position
- Personal information such as your age, marital status, race, religion, or political affiliation
- Negative information about previous employers or colleagues
- References, unless explicitly requested by the employer
- Hobbies and personal interests, unless you can connect them to the job
By leaving off unnecessary or sensitive information, you can make your resume more effective, prevent complications like age discrimination, and appeal to potential employers.
When to update your resume
It's best to update your resume whenever you change your work experience, education, or skills significantly.
These milestones include:
- Completing a new project
- Earning a certification or degree
- Changing jobs
- Taking on new responsibilities at your current job where you can show metrics and impact
Block thirty minutes each month to review your resume and professional accomplishments over the last 30 days. Make it a habit to keep track of your progress, stay organized, and ensure that you don't forget important achievements or skills.
It's also a good idea to update your resume periodically, even if you haven't had any significant changes or stayed with the same company. This practice will help ensure that it's consistent with current resume trends and ready to go when you need it—even if you plan to stay at the same job.
How to update your resume
Now that you know how to make a resume that showcases an appropriate career timeline, your next step is learning how to update your resume in an efficient way that gets you results.
Investing in your resume—whether through a career coach, professional resume writer, or free resume tools—is the easiest way to level up your job search and land more interviews.
With Teal's AI Resume Builder, customize your resume to the jobs you are applying for, analyze your resume's effectiveness, and store all your career history in one place.
Make crafting a new resume for each job simpler by storing your career history in Teal. With all your information stored in one place, dragging and dropping your accomplishments and past job experiences into a template is much easier than writing and formatting a new resume.
With Teal, you can access tools that help keep your job search organized, write a stand-out, personalized cover letter, optimize your LinkedIn profile, and create a resume with everything a hiring manager is looking for.
Embark on your career journey with confidence! Take the essential steps to navigate your path and make significant strides towards accomplishing your professional goals. Get started by signing up for a free Teal account today!