One of the top questions our professional resume writers get from job seekers is, “how far back should a resume go?”

Maybe you spent years building your career, and you have a lot of experience you want to have on your resume. Just because you have decades of experience doesn’t mean you need to list every position you’ve had.

Your resume should be a carefully crafted document tailored to the specific job you are looking for. That means you should only include your qualifications, skills, and experience to help you land that position. It’s not necessary to have an extensive list of your professional life.

How far back should your resume go?

Your resume should go back only 10 to 15 years in terms of work experience. This keeps your resume extremely relevant for recruiters and employers.

Your resume’s experience section should always pass the “5-second resume test” regarding relevance. Let’s pretend you are the hiring manager or recruiter looking at your resume. Look at the information and determine whether it’s relevant to the job and if a recruiter or hiring manager will be excited with your resume.

Why you shouldn’t add all your years of experience to your resume

Here are some reasons for including only 10 to 15 years of work experience on a resume:

Avoid age discrimination

Age discrimination does occur, and it could be the reason you don’t offer an interview. If your resume shows 20 or 30 years, it is easier for recruiters or hiring managers to guess your age.

If they’re looking for a younger applicant, they may reject your resume. If they do call you in for an interview, they still may be able to guess your age, but you will have an opportunity to prove your worth.

Boosts relevancy

The hiring manager doesn’t care what you did longer than 10 to 15 years ago. At some point, it just becomes better to leave it off. Your resume is only seen for a few seconds, so you want to ensure your resume is clear and concise. Unnecessary information will usually result in your resume getting refused.

When is it ok to go back more than ten years on your resume?

There are exceptions to each rule. Here are a few situations when you can include information more than 15 years ago on your resume.

High relevancy

If your experience is especially relevant, then you should leave it on your resume. Understanding that if you have 30+ years of relevant experience, you may only want to cover the last 10 to 15 years unless the other positions show notable aspects of your accomplishments or work. If you have years of related experience, you’re most likely applying for a higher-level job where age may not matter.

What if you’ve only worked at one business for many years?

If you only worked at one business for many years, then it could be tough to leave off the years on your resume. The good news is there is a way around this, depending on your situation.

If you’ve held various positions at the company, you could divide up your job experience depending on the time frame you’ve held a specific title. This allows you to show more relevant positions at the top of your resume and remove some that aren’t actually relevant.

Hiring managers care more about your most recent work history than what you did a decade ago. Keep your resume relevant, clutter-free, and concise by merely including your most recent work experience.

Want more expert advice? Check out some of our other blog tips, like 6 questions to ask a recruiter before your interview. Still have questions. Fill out the request form on the right!