Regardless of how well you are into your career, you may not be sure of what to include in your resume. One of the tough questions concerns how far back your resume should go when it comes to working experience. While a good number of people would like to get a straight forward answer or rule on how many years back they should go when including information on work experience in their resume, experts contend that there is no right answer.

Michelle Aikman, co-founder and Director of Adventure Learning of Cerno, spoke to us to help us understand how far back your resume should go when applying for a job vacancy.

The rule of thumb

Most people believe in a rule that recommends leaving experience past 10 years out of the resume. However, Aikman argues that there is no blanket rule since some people may lack the experience that would lead them to the next phase of their career.

Aikman goes on to add that the most important rule would be to communicate how the experience has enhanced your ability to do the job. The rule should make you consider whether you should attach timelines when communicating your qualifications as well as your past experiences. This means that what should determine whether you put your experience on your resume should be whether it applies, as opposed to when it occurred. Any relevant experience that the employer understands will present an opportunity for you to talk more about it.


When including work experience in your resume, you should pay special attention to the relevance of the information. Whether the experience occurred in high school or college, it will add to you qualifications as long as it is relevant.

It is normal to feel unsettled when you have a large gap in employment. Your worry of whether the employer will notice the gap will give you a hard time when filling out the job application or going for the interview. However, if you achieved personal accomplishments in this period, it would be perfect to include the information on your resume as relevant experience.

For instance, if you spent this time caring for a family member or loved one, you may want to demonstrate how the experience gained and lessons learned are relevant or will help you in the job you are applying for. One of the lessons would be how to manage another person’s life, an experience that would help if you become an assistant or general manager.

Aikman says that it comes down to the relevant words and skills you use to present the information. This means coming up with a way of communicating the experiences in a way that the employer will identify with.

Translate old experiences

Beyond providing relevant information, you should also translate your experience to your prospective employer. While you must understand the challenges you face when unemployed, you must demonstrate your motivation to work for the employer. Aikman advises that you can use your cover letter as an avenue to dispel any fears the employer may have about your unemployment. Aikman further explains that this is an important point for people with large employment gaps.

Go beyond the resume

Although there is a stigma surrounding being unemployment, it is important to do much more than just dropping off a resume or filling out online application forms. According to Aikman, whenever you are looking for a job, you need to be proactive. This means attending networking events to gain access to potential employers and building relationships with professionals in your area of expertise.