How Many Jobs Should You List On A Resume?


How many jobs should you list on a resume: A comprehensive guide

One of the things that puzzles job-seekers most is deciding how many jobs to list on a resume. Is it okay to keep only relevant jobs, or should you list all the jobs you've had? What to do if you have changed careers frequently and have had too many jobs? And, if you're a recent graduate, is it okay to include your summer jobs? 

Worry no more - we have you covered. In this article, you will find: 

  • the exact number of jobs you should list on a resume for each career level, 
  • how to format your work history effectively, and 
  • what to do if you have no relevant professional experience. 

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How many jobs should you list on your resume? 

When it comes to choosing the right number of jobs to add, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everything will depend on your overall experience and the relevance of your past jobs. Including too many jobs will make your resume unnecessarily long. On the other hand, if you only add a couple of recent jobs, the employer won't understand your professional strengths. 

To effectively choose how many jobs should you list on a resume, follow these guidelines: 

Consider how many jobs you had overall 

Every job-seeker has a unique career path, so it makes sense to decide on the exact number based on how many jobs you have had. 

The rule of thumb for most situations is between 3 and 7 jobs. If you've only had 3 or 4 jobs, all of them in the same industry, and all are related to your target job description, list all of them and call it a day. Yet, if you've had 11 jobs, you might need to eliminate irrelevant ones. For senior job-seekers, it also makes sense to cut off jobs older than 15 years. 

Pay attention to job title and career level 

A good number of jobs for an entry-level job will be different from that for a C-level management position. Here's how to choose the appropriate number depending on your employment history: 

  • entry-level professionals (0-2 years of experience) can list one or two jobs if that's all they have. As a recent graduate, hiring managers don't expect you to have an impressive number of relevant jobs. Yet, be sure to emphasize relevant practical skills, internships, and paid experience; 
  • mid-level professionals (2+ years of experience) should go 10 years back in their resume. Your main goal is to prove to the hiring manager that your experience is enough to excel in the role. If you've changed jobs frequently, list only 5-6 most recent positions. Remember that you are limited by a two page resume length. 
  • senior managers need to list jobs they've had in the last 15 years. Adding up to 7 jobs is fine as long as each position showcases your value as a leader. You should present the breadth of relevant experience, whether in the same company or with different employers. Show off your achievements in the relevant roles and career progression. 
  • professionals changing careers should focus ONLY on relevant jobs. If your prior positions are somewhat relevant to a new industry, it is okay to keep some of them. Yet, it is more important to showcase relevant skills, training, and experience in a new field (even if unpaid and limited). 

Focus on relevant experience

When scanning your resume, recruiters determine its relevance to the job ad. Listing all your jobs isn't a must, but you need to present a consistent career timeline. If you are applying for a marketing manager, editor, or another professional position, it is best to omit irrelevant roles (as long as removing them won't create a significant gap you'll have to explain). 

Alternatively, you can create two sections for experience: one for relevant positions and the other for additional experience/older jobs. Yet, if these irrelevant jobs do not add any value to an employer, you can remove them whatsoever. 

List your jobs in reverse chronological order 

Make sure all jobs on your resume are properly formatted. If you are applying for a role in the same industry, use a reverse chronological resume. List your work history starting with your current role, including the job title, company name, and start-end dates. For each role, add bullet points listing your experience and achievements. 

If you are changing careers, you might want to use a functional resume format. It focuses on your skills and competencies over a timeline of jobs. You describe your competencies and skills in detail, and list as many jobs as you like briefly at the end of the document. 

Review your Work History section 

After you've finished writing, take a look at your resume in general. Check that your resume does not exceed one or two pages. This standard works for all industries - whether you work in business administration, software development, or finance, a resume has to be concise. 

Check that your work history tells a comprehensive career history, with all positions relevant to your target job. The exact number of jobs should be from 3 to 7, depending on the relevance and how many years of experience you have. 

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How far back your resume should go, according to hiring managers 

Hiring managers agree that a modern resume shouldn't go back more than 15 years. This will help you meet a two-page length limit and make your professional experience more focused. If you've had more than five jobs in the last 10 years, going back 10 years is your ideal option unless you apply for jobs that require more experience. 

It is okay if you've worked with the same company but had different roles - in this case, emphasize your career growth and promotion. Keeping your work history to 15 last years will also help you avoid age discrimination. 

What if your complete job history is too short? 

The problem when you don't have enough jobs to list in your Experience section typically occurs among graduates. Entry-level professionals are often worried that their resume experience is too short or irrelevant. If that's the case with you, here's how you can fix the situation and still stand out to a hiring manager: 

  • add unpaid experience. In addition to paid jobs, list on your resume unpaid internships, volunteering, and college projects where you showcased relevant skills. 
  • consider adding irrelevant jobs. If you have zero relevant professional experience, it is okay to include customer service roles. Focus on what these jobs taught you and how what you've learned is relevant to your target position. 
  • focus on education and relevant coursework. When your practical experience is limited, focus on your theoretical skills. 

Is your resume longer than 2 pages? 

As a senior professional or manager, you might find it challenging to meet a two-page limit. If you have removed some jobs, but the resume is still too long, consider this: 

  • reduce the number of jobs. When it comes to resumes, more isn't always better. Remove the jobs you've had over 15 years ago (or 10 years ago if you've been job hopping recently). 
  • cut down your job descriptions. The ideal length of job descriptions is 6-7 bullet points (you can include more if you have had a technical or senior position). Remove bullets that do not relate to your target job listing. 
  • remove outdated skills and training. If you've taken online courses ten years ago or include Microsoft Office and the internet as skills, you can remove these details. 

To top it off, the optimal number of jobs typically varies depending on the job's seniority and years of experience. Generally, including around five jobs is enough to give the recruiter a comprehensive outlook of your relevant experience and strengths. 

We hope that with the above guide you'll optimize your resume and communicate your professional background effectively. Good luck! 

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