How Many Years Back Should a Resume Go?

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Our team of professional resume writers is often asked by job seekers, “How far back should a resume be?” You have many years of experience in your career and you should include it on your resume. A lot of people have decades of experience and their resumes don’t get any calls or interviews. You don’t need to list all your job experience on your resume.

A resume should be a targeted document that is tailored to a job. This means that your resume should only include the skills, experience, qualifications, and knowledge that you will use in this job. A complete list of your professional experience is not necessary. This would be a CV and not a resume.

This article will show you how far back your resume should be and why.

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What should the maximum length of your resume be?

Your work experience should not exceed 10 to 15 years. This will ensure that your resume is relevant to recruiters and employers.

What if you really do need those years?

Are you able to include experience in your resume? You could include the experience if you are required to, as is the case with higher-level managerial positions. This post will discuss other exceptions to this rule.

When it comes to relevancy, your resume’s experience section must pass the “6-second resume test”. Think of yourself as a hiring manager or recruiter looking over your resume. Take a look at the information and decide if it is relevant to the job posting. If it is, the hiring manager will be impressed.

Why not add all of your years of experience and knowledge to your resume?

These are the top reasons to include only 10 to 15 years of work experience on your resume.

1. Avoids age discrimination

Age discrimination can happen, and it could cost you your job. It’s easy for a hiring manager to guess your age if your resume dates back 20-30 years.

If they are looking for younger candidates, they might dismiss your resume. They may still be able to guess your age, but you have the opportunity to prove your worth if they call you for an interview.

2. Relevance increases

Your past work history will not matter to the hiring manager. It is better to just delete your resume at some point. Your resume is only viewed for a few seconds, so make sure your resume is concise and clear. Rejections will often be based on irrelevant information.

Your resume should contain a summary of your professional achievements, not a list of every job and responsibility you have held since middle school. Your work history over the past decade is likely to be the reason. Don’t let irrelevant information take up too much space on your resume. Use that space instead to highlight relevant achievements, experience, and positions that are more closely related to the job you’re applying for.

3. Eliminate clutter

A cluttered resume is another thing that can frustrate hiring managers. This is usually done by including many years of work experience. Your resume shouldn’t be more than 2 pages. To quickly demonstrate to the employer that your qualifications are the best for the job, keep it concise and pertinent.

Need help with your resume? Our expert resume writers can help you craft an application-ready resume that will make sure you stand out from the rest.

What should be the maximum time your resume can go back further than 10 years?

There are exceptions to every rule. These are three scenarios where you may include information from over 15 years ago in your resume.

1. High relevancy

We mentioned that if your experience is truly relevant, you should include it in your resume. If you have more than 30 years of experience, it is possible to only include the 10 to 15 most recent years. This is unless your achievements and work history are different from yours in other positions. You may also be applying for a higher-level position if you have years’ worth of relevant experience.

2. Preeminent title or company

It is a good idea to include any high-ranking titles or work experience at a prestigious organization on your resume. This would pass the “who cares” test and would attract the attention of a hiring manager.

3. Explain the gap

It is possible for a hiring manager to see a gap in your resume if you only list the year of your graduation, certification, or license and do not include a significant amount of experience. You will need to include work experience, or remove any other dates.

It depends on the information you’ve listed. However, you don’t have to include your graduation year.

Your education does not fall under the 10- to 15-year rule. Degrees can be included on your resume regardless of when they were earned. This range of 10 to 15 years is for work experience only.

What if you have had the same company for many decades?

It could be hard to get rid of years of work experience if you have only worked for one company for a long time. There are ways around this depending on your situation.

You can split your work experience based on how many years you have held the title. This allows you to list relevant positions on your resume, and remove those that aren’t.

Let’s say Anna was searching for an accounting job and has been employed at XYZ Corp. For the past 22 years.

These were her positions during those years:

  1. Accountant: 6 years (2015-2022)
  2. Bookkeeper: 6 years (2009-2015)
  3. Customer Service Representative: 10 Years (1999-2009)

Anna could classify the accounting and bookkeeping positions based on the years she has worked there and ignore the 10-year-old customer support representative position.

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Hiring managers are more interested in your most recent work history than you were ten years ago. Including only the most recent work experience will keep your resume concise and clear. If you are looking to upgrade your resume to land your dream job, we have our own experts that can help you with that!

Good luck in your job search!

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