How Far Is Too Far When It Comes to Displaying Career History?

1 year ago

How long does a CV need to be?

How far back do I need to go?


This is a much-debated topic in the recruitment world and I have heard so many people say they were “told” to do their CV a certain way by recruiters or their parents and that that was the only way to do type

This is something I don’t believe to be true. It’s like being told that everyone must have the same haircut because “that’s how it’s done”. A CV is a very personal document, there is no right or wrong way regarding how far back you need to go on your CV.

Some people go back 5 years, fine, but what if a role you did 7 years ago is relevant to the job you’re applying for?

Some people go back ten years, fine, but what if you’ve been in your current job that long? You’ll only have one job on your CV.

So then do you follow the “three job” rule? What if your 4th role is relevant too?

Here is my advice, not “the rules” but tips based on the fact I spend a lot of time looking at applicant’s CVs.

  • If you aren’t going to put all of your work history on your CV, go back as far as is relevant. There’s no need to put time restraints on your experience. I’ve registered many people who have had really interesting work experience, but most of it is missed as they were told to only put their last three jobs/5 years’ experience on.
  • Some companies like to see a complete work history as part of their application process. This can be a pain, especially when going through a recruiter who only has your last few years’ experience to hand. Remembering dates on the spot is difficult, so if you are going to exclude roles from your employment history, make sure you have the dates of these roles to hand, and a few basic duties. Better to be prepared than on the phone fumbling for information.
  • In my opinion, if all of your work history is relevant to the line of work you are getting into, put it all on your CV. Common practice is 10 years, but I would list dates, companies and job titles for anything previous to this, or at least have this available separately as noted above, as it will show the extent of your experience.Michelle Circle 2

To conclude, my advice is to include any and all work experience relevant to the line of work you are looking for.

Again, this is just my opinion and advice from observations made throughout my career in recruitment. The internet is full of conflicting statements regarding work history, so do what feels right for you, and be willing to take criticism from recruiters and hiring managers in regards to any changes you need to make.

I often ask candidates to go away and edit their CV, the ones who get back to me show enthusiasm and willingness to adapt, great traits to show any future employer!

Should you want any more CV writing advice, please look at our other articles:

Do you know how to write a CV? 10 tips on how to get it right

Is Your CV Selling You Short?

How to Overcome a Gap in Your Career History

Want to Stand Out From the Crowd? Avoid Using These Phrases in Your CV!maria circle for intro

Or get in touch with me today:

01254 239363





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