Résumé Help: Is It Alright to Include All of Your History?

By Debra Wheatman

On March 11, 2013

In Resume Help

About resumes, work history


This candidate takes us all the way back to 1972.  Remember 1972?  The big news in 1971 was Watergate. It is also the year of the first hand-held calculator, which weighed almost as much as a modern tennis racquet and cost nearly $400!  With that image in mind, does it make sense for a candidate to go back that far on a Résumé?   No!   Most experts are firm that résumés include only the most recent 10 to 15 years of experience. Why?  It will decrease your marketability to go back any further. Additionally, your most recent experience is the most relevant.

Some clients will plea that some part of their history from many years ago is crucial because it sets them apart from others.  That is not the case with this candidate. After interviewing her, I found that her recent experience carries weight on its own.  However, in some cases there is the need to feature valuable skills from early history. If so, that should be included in the résumé summary statement and possibly in a skills inventory, also called a core competencies section.  Another technique is to include a short bulleted list of top career achievements. 

When writing your resume, determine the starting place in your history that supports your career goal.  If you have worked longer than 15 years, I advise that you begin your résumé with a job that starts approximately ten to 15 years ago.  If you have questions about how to choose a good starting date, please contact me. For more reading on this topic, please follow these links:

Ask Deb

A Résumé for Every Generation

Résumé Help:  Style Points

If you would like a résumé critique, please contact Debra Wheatman at debra@careersdonewrite.com or visit us at http://careersdonewrite.com. The Résumé Help blog appears weekly on Mondays.

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