The way you write it and what you put in your resume can mean the difference between getting an interview or never hearing from the company to which you sent an application.
While it is essential that the resume is thorough, how far back should a resume go? I wondered about the answer to that question and decided to do some research to find out, and below is what I discovered.
How far back should the job history go on your resume? Your resume only needs to go back 15 years if you’ve been in the job market for a while. It's more important to include experience in similar positions, or that’s relevant to the industry of the job for which you’re applying.
What to Include on a Resume?
If you have been in the job market for some time, then you need to update your resume to include information that’s useful to recruiters or hiring managers.
Many people don’t keep their resumes up-to-date, so if you’re looking for a new position, look over your current resume to see how you can update it. There will be things you should eliminate and others that only require simple, quick changes.
Update Your Job History
People who have years of experience in the job market don't need to list their first job unless it has been the only place they’ve worked. Then, they should include any promotions they received with that company.
For instance, if you went from burger flipper to a national district manager for a fast food chain, then include your promotions from the time you started with them.
However, if you were a burger flipper at 16 and are now a manager at a software firm, don’t include your first job. How far back should a resume go is a question of relevance. If your first job is relevant to the position for which you’re applying, keep it on your resume.
Also, keep it on there if you’re young and searching for your first professional job because it shows that you have some work experience. Only keep those positions on your resume that are relevant to the one you’re seeking or if you have experience within the same industry.
If you’re seeking a job as a bank manager and you have experience as a teller supervisor, then that is the type of information that should remain on a resume.
Add New Skills
Many professionals improve their chances for promotion or getting a better position by going to classes to improve their knowledge and job skills. They may earn certificates in certain aspects of their profession, which they should include on their resumes.
Showing that you have an interest in maintain or improving your knowledge of the industry you work in shows ambition and the desire to stay within the industry. Also, look over the skills section and remove any out-of-date skills. As an example, remove that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word but keep information about your proficiency in Excel.
Update the Language
Read your resume and take out any dated language and replace it with more modern terminology. It’s no longer the World Wide Web, but the internet. Also, note that the word “internet” no longer requires capitalization. Any words or phrases that are out-of-date will date you, but by changing them for the modern versions, you are not giving away your age.
Since most companies use Application Tracking Software to sort through resumes, it’s essential that job seekers use the terms that they are looking for, which are keywords. Keywords are what people type in a search engine to find information.
So, if you want to know about grammar, you may use the words “English grammar,” “grammar rules,” or the phrase, “what is proper grammar” which are keywords. Look up the keywords, or keyword phrases that are most people use on search engines like Bing, Google, or Yahoo when they want information about your job industry.
Then, as you update your resume, use the keywords or keyword phrases within it to trigger tracking software into recommending your resume for positions in which you have an interest.
Don’t Trim Too Much
A few years ago, most people tried to fit all their job, contact, and educational information on one page. While that is still the protocol for young people with limited experience, a seasoned professional can include a second page for their resume.
By leaving the relevant information on it, along with skills, education, and contact information, most people who have years of job experience will have a two-page resume. Don't try to get it down to one page as there may be valuable information that you could leave off.
Eliminate Dates on Resume
The only items on your resume that should have dates listed are your job history when you received promotions or made job changes. Remove any dates on your educational information to prevent it from dating you.
Also, never include your birthdate on your resume, cover letter, or anywhere else. A hiring manager should never ask for it in an interview unless you’re filling out paperwork after being hired.
Re-Format Your Resume
Along with updating the content of your resume, you should also update its format. While several kinds exist, the ones to concentrate on are the:
- Chronological Resume
- Functional Resume
- Combination Resume
The chronological resume is the most common type of resume for job seekers. The name comes from the fact that the applicant lists their work history from their most recent position to the other jobs they've held in reverse order.
As with most resume formats, it first begins with the applicant’s name and contact information, which should include their mailing address, telephone numbers, and email address. For people that have a website related to their work, they should include the URL for it as well.
A qualifications summary is next that briefly lists their overall experience, skills, and any specialized training the applicant has that's relevant to their careers. If there is more information that needs to go on your resume, then create space by shortening the summary of qualifications or eliminating them. Listing your work history is more important than the summary list.
After the qualifications summary, then you’ll list your work history in reverse order. Remember, do not include your first job unless the experience is relevant for the type of job that you’re seeking today. Your education information is next, followed by your relevant skills.
If you decide to reformat your resume into a functional resume, then you need to highlight your job skills instead of work history. Start with the qualifications summary and highlight unique skills and key strengths by creating sections for each one. An example would be listing all technical skills in one paragraph while listing language skills in another.
After the summary of qualifications, you should add your educational information, and then your relevant work history. Functional resumes are suitable for people who may have gaps in their work history or young professionals who haven't been in the job market for very long.
If you've been in the job market for several years, comb through the skills section to get rid of any outdated skills. For instance, you don't need to mention 10-key skills or MS Word proficiency because most hiring managers assume you have them because computer skills are now standard.
A combination resume uses the work history of the chronological resume and the skills emphasis of the functional resume. It begins with a general qualifications summary and then presents the applicant's work experiences they've had over the years. Their expertise includes the skills they have, what they did during internships, or on their jobs.
After writing about their experiences, their work history comes next. Its format is one line that provides the name of the company, their address, and when the applicant worked there. Any of the relevant information about what experiences or skills acquired on the job goes in the work experience section.
Finally, keep the references section on a resume, but don't list them. Instead, just write "references available upon request," and have them ready on another sheet of paper. Then when the interviewer requests them, you can hand them over immediately.
Change the Font
Along with updating the format of your resume, you should also look at it from an aesthetic viewpoint and make changes to make it stand out from the hundreds of resumes that many companies receive when positions are open.
Instead of using the more common Times Roman or Arial fonts, try out other professional styles. Two examples are the Cambria or Calibri fonts. These fonts are clean, legible, and more companies are requiring them on written materials instead of the fonts as mentioned earlier.
Do not use other fonts that could be hard to read, such as fonts that mimic handwriting or those that do not like professional. Follow these suggestions if your curious about how far back should a resume go.
Then its content will not only capture the attention of the application tracking software, but it will also get the attention of hiring managers before you interview with them. A nice-looking resume with good content will help you land an interview for most jobs for which you apply.