Listing outdated or irrelevant work experience may harm your resume ranking – but, you can’t ignore the years of hard work you put in to build your career. In this guide, let’s figure out how much of that should go to your resume to get your next job.
We address these questions in the article:
- How many jobs should you include on your CV?
- How many years of experience should you write?
- What are the types of jobs you should write about to get the best results?
- Different formats and templates to list your employment history on your resume
You may also check out our resume builder to create a beautiful resume with a modern resume template that matches your profile. You’re just about 10 minutes away from creating a world-class resume.
Why is it Important to Figure Out the Number of Jobs to Include on a Resume?
The professional profile of each candidate is different – one has worked 10 years in the same company and had multiple promotions in their career while the other has worked for many employers. However, the recruiter looks for the same thing in both applicants – fit for the job.
Your work experience section plays a major role in communicating your professional capabilities and skills to the hiring managers – in fact, that is where most of them start to read your application.
A typical hiring manager spends about 5-10 seconds on a resume and most of their time is spent scanning the applicant’s experience section. There should be enough jobs to make your application qualified and not too much to make you look overqualified.
Identifying the right number would depend upon the job and the candidate’s professional profile. We’re here to find the right balance and the structures that suit each candidate’s profile.
In addition, the standard resume length is one to two pages in most regions. If you have worked in 5-10 companies under 15 different positions, you wouldn’t get to fit all that effectively. What you have done in each position, your achievements, and the responsibilities you held would be more important than the number of jobs you worked in.
Why Not Everything?
Too many jobs on your resume could be unfavorable to your application – here’s why you shouldn’t write all your jobs on the resume:
- Relevance: your work history should be relevant to the job you’re applying for. Most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to shortlist applications – these systems pick the relevant keywords and use keyword density as a measure to shortlist – your chances will diminish with irrelevant content on your application.
- Attention: Hiring managers’ attention span for a single resume is very low – you should communicate your most applicable experience faster before they move to the next application.
- Space: your resume space is a precious asset that you can’t consume for jobs that don’t add value to your new job. It should be a position where you either had the same responsibilities or developed relevant skills.
- Professionalism: a resume is not a document to dump everything you’ve ever done. By selecting what to include and what to remove, you’re showing your organizational skills and professionalism.
How to Determine the Right Number of Jobs for Your Resume?
The right number would depend on your professional experience and the job. There are basically three ways to determine the right number of jobs to include on your resume:
- Based on the candidate’s experience
- Based on the job description
- Based on the resume
Let’s take a closer look at them:
1. Based on the candidate’s experience
A high number of jobs on your resume would be a negative signal to a hiring manager if you’re an entry-level candidate. It would look like you’re frequently changing jobs – an attitude most hiring managers don’t like. It will make you look like a job hopper.
If this is the case, try to stick to the most relevant jobs you have done. Write the jobs where you worked the longest if all of them are relevant.
Experienced candidates often have a long job list on their resumes. If you’ve 20 years of experience with 2 career transitions – working in 7 companies, listing all of them on your resume wouldn’t be relevant. The recruiter will lose their attention to the most important jobs you’ve done.
Even for an experienced candidate, writing 3-5 job positions with full detail would be the most effective way to create a great experience section. The rest of the jobs you could write down without a description saving precious resume space.
2. Based on the job description
Most job advertisements highlight the number of years of relevant experience they’re looking for. Try to list at least the minimum number of years of experience they’ve mentioned.
If you don’t possess much experience, you could write your internship experience and any volunteering programs you’ve participated in.
If you have 25 years of experience and the job requires 10 years – write the most relevant 10 years of experience with details on your experience section and state that you’ve overall 25 years of experience in the industry.
If the job description states that the candidate should provide a complete job history, you should write all the jobs on the resume – in such cases, make a list of jobs highlighting the years, companies, and the positions you held.
3. Based on the resume
The standard size of your resume should be one to two pages. If you’re applying for an entry-level position with less than 5 years of experience, try to limit your resume to one page.
If you decide to extend your resume to two pages, fill both pages – do not leave your resume with a half-empty page.
Pick the right resume template that suits your profile. If you have many jobs to list, write the most relevant ones with details and the rest in a list under a heading such as “Other Experience”.
Save Precious Resume Space with a Work Experience Section Template that Fit Your Profile
If space is the only thing that keeps you from writing your most important jobs, consider designing a template that suits your experience. Here, we have given examples covering three common candidate profiles:
1. You have worked in multiple positions in the same company
Example:Here, you don’t have to describe every role you hold in the company – focus on writing the most relevant achievements and responsibilities for the position you’re applying for. It could be a combination of work from different positions.
2. You have worked in the same position under multiple employers
3. You have worked for many employers in different positions
Finding the Perfect Format to Write Your Experience
When writing your experience section, you need to decide the order in which you write your experience. There are three standards formats used in resume writing:
Reverse chronological order
This is the most common resume format used in many regions. In this, you start the experience section with your most recent experience – then, proceed with the past jobs in the reverse chronological order.
The importance here is that the recruiter gets to read your most recent experience first – which is what they value the most. We recommend you use the reverse chronological order to write your experience section as this is the safest option for many job seekers.
This suits those who do not possess much relevant experience and those candidates who try to hide their career gaps. However, most hiring managers get confused seeing this type of experience section and further examine in the interview what the candidate is trying to hide in their career.
Here, the relevant skills the candidate acquired in a job are explained with the responsibilities and achievements in each position without mentioning the exact timeline. Suitable to describe project-based or freelance experience of the candidate.
Hybrid (combination) format
This is a mix of the reverse chronological and the functional format – used when the candidate possesses employment experience together with freelance or project-based experience.
Tips to Improve Your Resume Experience Section
An exceptional resume is one with an exceptional experience section. Take your experience section from GOOD to GREAT by following these pro tips:
- The first position you write in your experience section should be the most relevant one for the position you’re applying for.
- Relevance and clarity are the two most important things a recruiter expects in your experience section.
- Include your achievements and accomplishments with the numbers to add credibility.
- Write descriptions for a maximum of 4 job positions.
- Add 3-5 bullet points for each position with roles, responsibilities, and achievements.
- List short-term work in a separate section or avoid them from the resume altogether if not relevant.
Summary: Writing a Perfect Experience Section
- The number of jobs you list on your resume depends on your professional profile and the job description.
- Write every professional opportunity if you’re an entry-level candidate – pick the right jobs only if you’re an experienced candidate.
- Write the most relevant jobs first as the hiring managers mostly read the first two job descriptions.
- Use the reverse chronological order to write your experience section for more clarity.
- Create or pick a modern resume template that provides you the flexibility to write your experience section to match your profile.
Should I include every job I did in my resume?
You should include every job you did if the job ad specifies to do so. Otherwise, there’s no need for you to write everything. You can always skip the jobs that are not relevant to the position you apply for.
Should I include a job that I was fired from, in my resume?
If you were fired from a job based on your performance or a personal reason, you should avoid putting that job on your resume. A hiring manager may contact the officials in that company for reference and would get to know the situation which would disqualify your application.
If you were fired for a reason outside your control such as for company relocation or downsizing, you could write that position as your experience. However, you don’t have to state that you were fired from the job on your resume, but full disclosure is expected in the interview.