How many jobs have you had? How many of them does a potential employer want to see on your resume? Job seekers often ask this question, “How many jobs should be on a resume?” Here’s the answer: it depends, but probably fewer than you would think.
Employers spend just seconds on each resume before they decide whether to seriously consider the applicant. This is real, so candidates need to be strategic about how many jobs to include on their resumes.
3 factors for deciding how many jobs should be on a resume
Consider these three factors when deciding how many jobs should be on a resume: your experience, the role you want, and above all, the purpose of a resume.
Your resume’s purpose
A resume is not a bio. It is neither a CV – curriculum vitae, which is the document that summarizes your entire academic and professional history – or the job application. The hiring process requires a resume, but it’s not what gets you hired. Its purpose is to convince the employer to give you an interview. “A well-crafted resume acts as both a strong first impression and a convincing sales pitch. It’s an opportunity to showcase your talents and woo recruiters and hiring managers,” writes Kerri Anne Renzulli for CNBC.
Job seekers need to create their resumes to focus on what they want a hiring manager to know about them at first glance. All else is distraction and should be eliminated.
Your level of experience
New entrants to the job market will probably need to list all of their jobs, although most employers will not care very much about the odd jobs you had to get through school. The longer you have been in the workforce, the more selective you can be about which jobs to include on your resume.
Include jobs you’ve had that are most relevant to the one you seek, going back no more than 10-12 years. More than that, and it might be read as an age marker. Other age markers to keep off your resume are graduation dates. While it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on age, it unfortunately still occurs. Set yourself up for success by not unknowingly giving clues about your age.
Also, some skills required longer ago might be considered out of date now. One exception to this time limit: If you have worked for the same company for a decade, it helps to include an earlier job to show your ability to be successful for more than one employer.
Your desired role
Pick jobs to list on your resume that showcase your strengths and qualifications that align with the job listing. You don’t want to parrot its wording, but picking up bits of the job description will resonate quickly with the hiring managers reading it, as well as register with the software many employers use to filter potential candidates. It’s especially advantageous to list previous jobs in which you are able to provide quantifiable metrics, showing the benefit you delivered in that role for that organization.
Given how quickly hiring managers evaluate a resume, candidates are often counseled to keep them to one page. For entry-level or non-managerial positions, this is excellent advice.
When applying for higher level roles, however, two pages are not only acceptable, they are often better. “The call-back benefits of including a second page increased the more senior the role — candidates with longer resumes were hired more than 70 percent of the time for mid-level or managerial-level jobs,” writes Renzulli about a survey done by a resume-writing service. While two pages give a bit more space for listing additional jobs, they should still be chosen with laser focus.
What about the appearance of gaps?
You might be wondering how to explain the appearance of employment gaps if some jobs are left off the resume. This question would most likely come up during an interview, and that would mean your resume did its job – it opened the door for you. It’s a simple matter now of being prepared to explain that “you didn’t include the job because the position isn’t relevant to your current career path,” says Alison Doyle, career development expert. Some applications require each previous place of employment and role to be listed, in which case your file already includes that information. Otherwise, you can offer to make it available to them if and when you are asked.
Where will the next step in your career path take you?
We invite you to send your resume to us. Bradsby Group recruiters evaluate the resumes we receive, from talented individuals like you, to make matches with the successful companies who partner with us to build their teams.