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Do I Have to Include All Jobs on My Resume?

Creating a stellar resume requires some time and effort, but you'll find it was well spent when that resume helps you land your dream job. Yet, many people struggle when faced with the task, especially when it comes to trying to decide how much information they need to include. While there are no hard-and-fast rules concerning your previous employment, the following tips should help you give you a better idea of whether or not it's necessary to list all of your past jobs on your resume.

Add Relevant Information For The Job You are Applying For

Even if you don't create a brand new document for each position you apply for, you should at least make an effort to tailor your resume to the specific role. This means that if you have numerous years of experience in other unrelated fields, you may want to choose to focus only on those that directly relate to your desired role or field. In this case, you can either leave these other positions off your resume entirely or list them in a separate section. This way the HR manager can easily get an overview of your related experience without getting bogged down in non-essential info.

On other hand, if you're a recent graduate or don't have much work experience, you'll want to list all of the experience that you do have. This goes for any work you did during high school or college, internships, volunteer work and even summer jobs. Your future employer will want to see proof that you've previously worked in some capacity, no matter how minor or unrelated was.

Don't Feel Obliged to List Short-Term Roles

If your last role didn't quite work out as well as you'd hoped, you definitely don't have to list it on your resume, especially if you were only with the company for a few months or so. Of course, if you happen to be applying for a job that requires a security clearance, this will definitely come out in your background check. Otherwise, it's highly unlikely any HR department will have the time or resources to ever find out about all of your former jobs. In fact, most will only go as far as calling your references and possibly phoning the HR department of some of your former employers to verify that you actually worked everywhere you claimed to have, which leads directly to the next point.

Limit Yourself to the Past 10 to 15 Years

If your career has already spanned more than a decade, it's usually a good idea to limit the items you list on your resume to the past 10 to 15 years. Of course, this rule doesn't necessarily apply when switching careers or fields, as in this case, it's more important that you focus on the most relevant experience instead of the most recent. Nonetheless, industries change quite quickly, meaning there's probably no reason to list that computer programming job you held 20 years ago since this experience won't give you much insight into today's IT environment.

Make Yourself Look Good Without Resorting to Lies

While there's no reason you have to list all of your former employers, especially if you left on less-than-ideal terms, this doesn't give you carte blanche to lie. In fact, if you do lie on your resume and your employer finds out, this is usually grounds for immediate termination even if you've been in the role for years. Most employers will require you to sign a document stating that everything stated on your resume and during the interview was truthful, which means honesty is always the best policy.

Some employers may also ask you to provide a detailed list of every job you've worked for the past five or 10 years. In this case, it's necessary that you list absolutely everything as it's likely that the company will check your tax records to verify this information, meaning you could be disqualified should you decide to leave anything off.

Make Sure Not to Leave Huge Gaps in Your Employment History

At the end of the day, it's up to you how much or how little information to include on your resume. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep the resume as short as you can without leaving out anything pertinent, but this is generally easier said than done.

As long as you try to focus on the most relevant information in detail, you can feel free to be brief about the less important stuff or leave it off altogether. Nonetheless, be prepared to answer any questions about any larger periods of time not accounted for as, unless you have a good reason for it, most employers won't find it desirable to learn that you were out of work for an extended time. While this may mean including less relevant positions, it will also prevent a potential employer from thinking you were unemployed for several years.

Joost
My name is Joost and I have been active as a recruiter for the past 5 years. At Resume.io, I share my experience, tips and the "secret" tricks to help you get a job. Do you have questions? Please send me an email via the contact form.