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How far back should your resume go?

By Jana Angeles

2020 has been a year where the idea of job security has gone out the window. As Australia goes through another recession, this has shaken the job market, and economists have speculated that COVID-19 has created a "job crisis" that could last years. The pandemic has accelerated structural changes within the job market, with many experiencing redundancies and job loss, particularly those working in the tourism and arts/entertainment industries.

Other sectors like manufacturing and clerical jobs are at risk since the majority of these positions can be automated as well. There's no doubt that this has been a challenge for many Australians, especially for those who have had a long tenure with a particular company. 

If your employment has been affected because of COVID-19, it may be time to re-think your career options or start looking for work in an industry that is stable in job growth. This is an opportune moment to refresh your resume and make the changes you need to stand out from your competition.

So, how far back do you need to go when it comes to documenting your career trajectory? SkillsTalk provide tips on how to list your work history and what jobs and qualifications to include on your resume. 

How to list your entire work history on a resume

resume being viewed on digital tablet

Listing your entire work history is dependent upon your experience. A good guideline is to list jobs that you've worked in the last 10-15 years. If you're not too sure how to go about listing your prior work experience, here are some key tips to keep in mind when refreshing your resume:

Add only relevant work experience 

First impressions count on your resume so avoid including fluff where possible. Depending on the role advertised, recruiters and employers are usually slammed with applications by potential hires and with the pandemic, demand to secure the next role has only increased. 

Employers do not need to know about the roles you were hired for as an entry-level professional if you're seeking a position that requires a level of seniority. Your resume ideally should be a summarised version of your relevant work experience and accomplishments pertaining to the role you're applying for. Do your best to exclude non-essential information and pinpoint the work milestones that matter within your career trajectory.  

Keep it short and sweet 

As mentioned before, recruiters and employers usually receive a large volume of applications from a job listing so it's important to write a resume that doesn't read like a novel. Keeping it brief is the way to go so keeping it to two pages is an ideal length. 

However, don't feel restricted to two pages if you have a list of impressive achievements you want to put across recruiters and employers. According to Zety, it's perfectly acceptable to go over two pages as long as you include unique achievements that are related to the role you're interested in. 

"Age-proof" your resume 

By "age-proofing" your resume, you discard any preconceived notions about your work history as it's common for hiring managers to assume that a candidate with 20+ years of experience is either too expensive, not being challenged enough or overqualified. 

If you're not too sure how to go about "age-proofing" your resume, these tips may be able to help: 
  • Focus on your recent experience: provide more detail on the last 10-15 years of experience and be less descriptive about the roles you've held earlier in your career. Tailor your resume so it relates to the job you're interested in and ensure that it's reflective of your recent achievements rather than ones from the distant past.
  • Remove older dates: if you have qualifications that are dated beyond the 15-year window, it's best to remove these. This also applies to any roles you've previously had in your career. Your employer doesn't need to know about what year you've earned a particular credential. Although, it may be a great opportunity to consider taking up a qualification that is relevant to your industry, which may add to your currency as a professional. 
  • Join LinkedIn if you haven't already: a study by recruiting provider Jobvite, found that 93% of employers reviewed a potential candidate's social media platforms. If you're someone that isn't technically-savvy, joining LinkedIn is a great platform if you intend on growing and maintaining your professional network. It's also a profile that outlines your career summary online, which can be attractive to recruiters headhunting for potential candidates on the network. 

What experience should I list on my resume?

employer interviewing potential candidate

If you're unclear on what type of experience and qualifications you should list on your resume, this depends on your current situation and how many years you've worked as a professional. Below are some helpful tips on what to list down on your resume, which is dependent on where you're at in your career:

If you're a recent graduate

Only include relevant professional, academic and personal experiences and achievements. As you start to build your career, listing your transferable skills is key as a recent graduate since they can be applied to any workplace.

By demonstrating qualities of leadership, collaboration, problem-solving, communication and time management skills, these are great to have in any profession. Internships, volunteer work, passion projects or part-time jobs are useful to list on your resume - just make sure you're selective in what you include and that they're relevant. 

If you have two to five years of experience

Having a couple years of experience means that by now, you'll most likely have relevant experience in a few entry-level roles and some qualifications that maintain your currency within the industry. Only include roles you think can give you the competitive edge when applying for roles you're interested in during your job search. 

If you've studied at university before, it's also worth including any relevant experiences that aren't just limited to the full-time positions you've held. Don't be afraid to also include volunteer experience, side hustles and affiliations you've had with different organisations. It could work to your benefit to showcase your personality in conjunction with your work history. 

If you have five or more years of experience

When you've reached a point in your career where you're considered a seasoned professional, it's tempting to include all the roles you've done previously on your resume. However, this could hurt your chances in being considered as a potential candidate for a role. Recruiters and hiring managers aren't interested in roles that show no connection to the position you've applied for, so in this case, "trimming the fat" on your resume is essential. 

As mentioned before, focus on the experience you've done in the last 10-15 years and omit professional experience that isn't related and include roles you think elevate your career trajectory. Highlight your accomplishments that you feel most proud of and primarily focus on roles you've made the most impact. 

Improve your job search with an online qualification 

If it's been some time since you've hit the books, then it's strongly encouraged to explore the course options available with Upskilled. With a range of courses in business, community services and IT, you could work towards a qualification that can help enhance your resume. 

As courses are delivered online, you have the flexibility to manage both your work and personal commitments - adding to the convenience that you don't need to compromise your schedule when upskilling. Get in touch with one of their education consultants on 1300 009 924 and enquire about a course today. 
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