How Many Past Jobs Should You List On a Resume?
November 28, 2023
3 min. read
If you are reading this article, the chances are you question the strategy of whether to put more or less professional experience into your resume.
Indeed, every job-seeker needs to prioritize how many jobs they should list on a resume. Your best approach is to leave the guesswork out of here and tackle the matter effectively for more callbacks and a better resume open rate.
Let’s communicate in a comprehensive way how many jobs to list on a resume.
The focus here is to make your resume the most accessible and appealing piece to a hiring manager. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the number of jobs you need to put into your resume as a reference for your relevant experience.
Ideally, your resume must be relevant to the job listing, impressive with numerous profit-stimulating projects and accomplishments, and flashy with relevant college degrees and qualifications in your education section.
And yes, you’re right, preferably with a recent graduation date to show you’re undoubtedly tech-savvy. Of course, that will be a perfect match for any company.
However, real life presents more opportunities for applicants to try different jobs or the necessity to take up work just to meet the ends, for example. It is hard to maintain a perfect resume for a future employer. So, what should you do to list the right number of jobs in your resume?
Briefly speaking, the number needs to be effective. That means that the hiring manager will be able to do three things:
- To find your resume among other job-seekers by skill-based keywords in the job ad. Hiring managers usually employ an application tracking system (ATS) which is an HR’s best friend these days.
- To easily scan your career path and skim all the required experience and skills that are sufficient for the job. That means too many jobs on a resume is not the best way to go.
- To preliminary puzzle-match the resume to the standard of the job opening. That means the job descriptions you include in your employment history must be of relevant experiences and relevant skills.
As a rule, 2-4 relevant jobs to support your experience are thumbs-up.
Once you’ve reached that, you’ve accomplished your initial goal. Then, other impactful elements come into play, such as self-presentation at the interview, the ability to explain the gaps in your work history, if any, etc. Plan it—you’ll think about it a bit later.
Now, let’s get back to the number of jobs you should list on your resume.
Be elaborate to compose an appealing resume regardless of how many jobs you’ve put in your resume. You’ll get there. Follow a few guidelines and tips to make sure your job list will be well-received by a hiring manager.
1. Go for a chronological or functional resume
Roughly speaking, the reverse chronological resume is a more see-through, comprehensive resume that highlights your experience step by step in chronological order. If you’re a lucky owner of career sustainable growth, you’re sure to succeed with such an application angle. Start from the most recent position and work your way down to 2-4 positions. Not more than 10-15 years of experience.
On the other hand, a perfectly natural, exact experience match is a lucky chance for any recruiter and a rare occasion. That’s where a functional resume can help you out. It’s a great way to present your work history and transferable skills in the most attractive, logical way. Even if your work experience is within a different industry or you have a gap in your resume.
A functional resume justifies your experience level and why you qualify for a position. It’s helpful if you’re switching careers, have little experience, or it’s your first job.
By the way, if you need to add a professional photo to your resume or professional social media profile, use an AI headshot generator. It’ll give out a quality headshot with an appropriate background and your professional looks.
2. Combine relevant experience into an additional experience section for hiring managers
It’s more effective and comprehensive for hiring managers to evaluate your volunteer experience, internship, short-term (few months), and part-time jobs rather than question gaps in your resume. You can format your resume to combine relevant experience in bullet points under a specific headline, for example, under contract or freelance jobs.
3. Highlight the applicable number of years of experience
The experience of 10-15 years is a substantial level to showcase to a future employer. That usually implies 2 to 4 jobs.
It’s advisable to omit mostly irrelevant work history. At the same time, don’t leave gaps in your narration. While writing a resume, list jobs of only relevant work experience. Create a logical work experience section for recruiters to call you for a meeting without second thoughts.
It might be that at some point in your career, you struggled with finding a job to match your education and experience level. You worked, say at McDonald’s. It speaks for you as a hardworking and responsible person. However, leave this part out until you need to explain the gaps in your job history at the interview.
Additionally, it’s not recommended to go over the top with experience section years- and position-wise. The more, the better doesn’t exemplify well for how many jobs you should put in a resume.
The reason is that hiring managers can overlook your candidacy for being overqualified for an entry-level job. Or the experience of so many years ago can considered outdated, unfortunately. Or they might be put off by mistakably thinking you’re a job-hopper, etc.
4. Show your career growth
If you apply for a managerial position, make your resume stand out and rest on showing your promotions even within the same company. That highlights your commitment to the company and ability to choose opportunities wisely and effectively.
5. Use one or two pages for resume format
In most cases, one page for a concise, digestible resume is a good length. Two pages instead of one page is ok. Make sure you have enough information to write about throughout the second page. Use a bulleted listing instead of long sentences.
6. Resort to the job description as a guide
A job title and listing are a good place to start. If you examine the job description well, it’s easier for you to convince the employer you’re the right person for the job. Keep off from writing down your complete job history. Highlight the most relevant jobs of your applicable work experience rather than filling your resume with all the jobs you’ve ever done.
7. Describe relevant coursework, related volunteer work, or internships
How many jobs should you list in a resume if you’ve just started your career path? Typically, you can leave room for any applicable, important things you’ve progressed at. Such as a volunteer role in your field, internship related to the position you’re applying for, or coursework on an interesting case that is worth paying attention to by the organization.
The concise checklist will help you meet your goals:
- Create a resume for a specific job showing expertise in the industry.
- List two to four jobs on your resume in reverse chronological order with the most recent positions at the top.
- Choose a smaller number of jobs with more impressive challenges and accomplishments.
- Don’t include more than 10-15 years of work experience on your resume.
- Experiment with various approaches: functional resume format or a traditional chronological resume.
- Remember about a cover letter where you may add some more details.
- Explain your career change and highlight your transferable skills.
- Curate your resume and tell the story you want.
- Present a meaningful timeline in your job history.
- Avoid the wall of text. On the contrary, use bullet points.