How Many Years of Work History Do You Really Need on Your Resume?

John Krautzel
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Your resume serves as a brief snapshot of your professional career that leaves your future employer wanting to investigate more. At just one page, a resume cannot include your entire work history unless you haven't been in the labor force for very long. Discover what jobs you should and should not include in your job experience section.

Relevant Jobs

The general rule is you should put no more than 10 years of work history on a resume. You might have to leave off that first job where you worked really hard even though you loved it. That's because counseling at summer camp, mowing yards, babysitting or flipping burgers may not have much relevancy to your current situation. Leaving off high school jobs is fine, especially if you attended college.

Think about relevancy if you switched roles at some point in your career. The management position you had right after college might not have the experience or portfolio you want for the graphic design career you embarked on five years later. However, if you want to land a well-paying job in the hospitality industry, your fast-food job may have prepared you for that career track. You could have your first supervisor at the Krusty Krab as a reference because that job put you in touch with your passion for a hospitality career early on in your work history.

Resume Length

Consider leaving jobs off your work history if your resume is going to be too long. Unless you submit a curriculum vitae for a professional job as a doctor, lawyer, CEO, accountant or college professor, there's hardly any reason to create a resume that's more than one page. Think about a two-page resume only if you have vast experience for a high-level job.

Functional Resume

A functional resume comes in handy for times when your work history is either too long or too short. Rather than list your jobs chronologically, put the most relevant ones first. Typically, your most recent job comes first no matter what resume style you use. After that, you might leave out a temporary job you had during the summer or a part-time gig you used to make ends meet.

A functional resume showcases the experience and skills you earned that led directly to the reason why you're applying for your current position. This format lets your employer see precisely what you bring to the table without having to wade through a long list of previous jobs.

Your work history doesn't have to be comprehensive, especially since employers don't spend a lot of time looking at resumes once they initially receive them. Keeping your document short and to the point makes a resume easier to read and leaves your future boss wanting to know more.

Photo courtesy of Helen Penjam at


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