What is the cutoff for old information on resumes?
One of the AmeriCorps members asked a common question:

What’s the cut off (time of years passed) when a job is no longer applicable on a resume? And what about training classes or memberships?

This is a common question because my clients ask it all the time. Here are some of the points to remember when putting things on your resume or taking them off and some ways to use old information.
  • One rule of thumb for professional resume writers is a 10 -15 year look back. This means that you only include the last 10-15 years of employment on your resume. Older jobs can be omitted.
But I worked for 20 years for the same company?
  • If you have been with the same company for any length of time you need to include the full time you worked there. If someone checks with the employer, they need to get the same answer as you put on the resume.
What if the old job was with a great company or I did great things there?
  • When your some of your best accomplishments come from an old position, it is hard to leave it off the resume. This is when I use a prior background or prior engagements on the resume. You create a new section toward the bottom of your resume and list the position, the company, and the years.
  • It might look like this: Sales Manager | American Express | 11 years
  • Now on the top of your resume in your “Selected Accomplishments & Milestones” section, you can reference American Express like this ~ American Express and list that great accomplishment with the tag of the company name behind it.
  • Example: In the Prior Background section - Store Manager, Bath and Body Works, Wausau, WI | 3 Years
  • Bullet in Selected Accomplishments: While with Bath and Body Works, traveled and opened new stores and selected as first to open the White Barn Candle Company through them. ~ Bath and Body Works
What about training classes or seminars and memberships?

How much impact would those classes have on your job target? If you are certified in an area and the new employer values that certification, I would put the information in your resume. But if you are just listing everything you ever did, you need to be more selective. When in doubt, think about your job targets and make sure everything on your resume is geared to the target. Old memberships can be deleted when they no longer matter or are just too old.

I can remember writing a resume for a person who was aspiring to be promoted to Captain at a local fire department. It was in my very early days of resume writing at least 20 years ago. He insisted that we include every training he ever did. He went to the interview with the Police and Fire Commission and they said too much information and turned him down. We trimmed down the resume and put in only the critical training. We also created an addendum with a full list of every training, just in case.

What happened? The next time a Captain position opened, he got the job and he retired as Assistant Chief years later. See the difference the right information can make on your resume. Too much information can be just that!