One of the most frequent questions about resumes I hear from friends, coworkers, and many others, is, “How far back in time should my resume go?” Typically the answer is 15 to 20 years, but really, it’s more complicated than that. There are so many hypotheticals that the answer to this question is not black and white. However, here are three tips I believe can help you decide to crop or not to crop your resume.
Tip #1: Recruiters only spend about seven seconds per resume when looking at a potential candidate.
When trying to portray ourselves, we often find ourselves trying to cram in as much info as possible, which can leave us with a resume that reads more like a novel. However, a 2018 eye-tracking study found that recruiters spend on average 7.4 seconds reading a resume. As sad as that is—after all that time you spent working on your resume they look and make decisions faster than it took you to read this sentence! So, it is essential to make that short amount time count. I would advise putting a timer on and asking your friends to look at your resume for seven seconds and hear their thoughts and make sure your most important items are near the top!
Tip # 2: Research the Company.
When looking for the right company it is always good to cater to the audience aka the industry, the company, and the job type. For example, a film company might appreciate a creative based resume while a consulting firm would not. It is a good idea to have a few versions of your resume that you can easily edit for each job you apply to. Compare your skills to the those listed in the job description and update your resume accordingly. If an employer is seeking a skill you developed in a position from 16 years ago that is still relevant today, consider keeping that position on your resume.
Tip #3: What are you portraying?
One thing people never think of is, “What do you want to do?” In certain situations, your old work experience shows what you’ve done in the past, but what if you don’t want to do that kind of work anymore? Ultimately your resume should tell an employer what you’re capable of doing and if your old work experience feels irrelevant, feel free to crop the parts you don't like. Additionally, this is where a functional resume can serve you well. A functional resume is a skill-based resume where you compile your applicable skills instead of your work experience.
Overall, these tips can really help boost the effectiveness of your resume whether it contains experiences from 20 years ago or not. It is critical to keep these three tips in mind—especially when—more than ever—you need to stand out. These tips can really push you in the right direction.