How Far Back Should Your Resume Go?


Whether you are a seasoned architecture, engineering or construction professional or you are searching for your first job opportunity, you have probably heard that your resume should be a particular length or go back a certain number of years. While this might be appropriate for an entry-level candidate, if you have experience under your belt, you will likely to need to go into a bit more detail.

Be Relevant

In many instances, 10 to 15 years is an adequate amount of time to cover in a resume, especially regarding extensive details. However, if you are applying to a job and need to pull from previous experiences that extend back, beyond 10 to 15 years to show that you are qualified, it makes sense to include the information. The key is finding a balance where you are not overwhelming the hiring manager with unnecessary details, while showing that you are the best fit for the role.

Consider Formatting

Best practice for creating a resume in today’s market is to begin with a summary of your skills and experience that can be read at a glance. Your resume should be in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent or current job. In addition to your typical duties, highlight projects and accomplishments as well, utilizing quantifiable details whenever possible. Following work experience, include education, certifications and skills.

It is also critical to utilize a format that is best for the audience. While infographic and video resumes are growing in popularity, especially in creative industries, they can cause problems when being imported into Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). When applying to a job online, it might be best to utilize a traditional style, saved as a word or PDF. Using simple standard fonts, simple bullets and refraining from images or frames can also help to ensure that your resume is scan-able, both from a parsing and readability standpoint.

Regarding the ideal length of a resume, there isn’t a steadfast rule that they need to be kept under a certain number of pages. Typically, it depends on relevancy as well as the intended recipient. It can be detrimental to submit resumes that are so long that they are not actually read, or that are so inclusive that it doesn’t appear to have focus. However, length doesn’t matter as much when it is uploaded into an ATS. After all, it all looks the same on a computer screen. It’s simply a matter of toggling through fields or scrolling down through a record. The key again is relevancy.

Utilize Language from the Post

Incorporate some of the same terminology the employer or recruiter lists in the job listing in your resume. Do not copy the text though. Utilize variations to convey experience and skill. If you mirror their language, while mixing in critical keywords, the reader will not have to find the parallels on their own (and they often won’t). Make it simple for them to see how you are qualified and will be successful in the role.

Work with a Recruiter

During a job search, a recruiter, such as those at RealStreet, can be your best friend. They understand what employers are looking for and what can help you stand out from the competition in a tight labor market. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, contact the professionals at RealStreet or search our current jobs to apply online today.

The RealStreet folks are always helpful. They were instrumental in landing me a rewarding FEMA assignment in Southern California.

KC Green

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