Resume--When Listing Former Employers How Far Back Do You Go?

Updated on September 03, 2015
V.T. asks from McKinney, TX
14 answers

I'm a stay at home mom and looking to rejoin the workforce. I'm wondering how far back with employers to I go when listing on my resume. Do I list all, but only give recommendations from my last two? If I list my last two employers, that takes me back to 2006. I can't imagine that a company would look further back than that. I can't imagine if they call the place I worked in 2002 to get a recommendation (also it's out of business). I will address my time gap as a stay at home mom in my cover letter, with a brief statement.

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answers from Washington DC on

I list back to right out of high school, actually, one was while I was in high school. My companies said to do that because cash handling experience helped them classify me as a Senior Financial Analyst. It gave me the "years" of working with money.

I just started in the Government and I had to go back at least 10 years, but I kept all of my employment on my resume. 10 years is the requirement for the clearance. I also had to provide exact start and stop dates and physical addresses for each job. What a task!

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answers from Washington DC on


I'm a recruiter. I can help you with your resume.

I would go back 10 years. I would list any volunteer work you have done since 2006 as it may be valuable to your future employer. You do NOT need a cover letter. Your resume can carry you. Just be succinct and use bullets for each thing you have done.

Don't give recommendations or references unless asked.

What do you want to do?
What hours do you want to work?
Do you want full time or part time?
Look at the Reston Patch job board...

Or Chantilly - UPS is right off Route 50 and has all sorts of positions open - part time and full time,+va/q-part...

Good luck - send me a message if you want my help

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answers from Los Angeles on

Relevant work experience.
If that's two jobs? Two jobs.
If that's three jobs? Three jobs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I am looking to change jobs due to the impending closure of the facility that I currently work at. A career transition counselor was brought in and told us to only list the last 15 years on your resume. I will tell you that fr some jobs I have applied for, I have been asked to give a complete salary history though...

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answers from Norfolk on

About 10 years is as far back as you go.

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answers from Houston on

7-10 years of consistent employment. If you have gaps in your employment, be ready to explain what you were doing during that time. I think it's great with just your last two employers. That shows great tenure and as a recruiter / HR that looks good.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

As far as is relevant for the position. I list more than 10 years because I've been in my current field for a long time and I want to show the breadth of my skills. But, I dont list the time I spent as a server in a restaurant because it's irrelevant to my current field.

I review resumes and do some hiring. Including totally irrelevant stuff is one of my pet peeves. It just makes it harder to find what I need to know.

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answers from Wausau on

You list the jobs that are relevant to the job your getting. So, if for example you did the same job 10 years ago, list it. If you did a completely unrelated job last year, leave it off.

Take a little bit of time to look up current resume recommendations. Cover letters are not always desirable, and you don't have to explain work gaps in a timeline unless asked during an interview.

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answers from Sacramento on

Here's a good article that can help:

I agree with the others about going back 10 years. Anything beyond that is irrelevant.

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answers from Washington DC on

I have a friend who listed her SAHM experience by focusing on her skills learned in that time, such as time management, budgeting and whatever she did as a volunteer.

I went back 10 years, which was 3 jobs.

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answers from St. Louis on

Be careful explaining the gap. If you do it in a way that makes them think you can leave the workforce again you don't stand a chance. I was lucky, I came back guns blazing, okay, too dramatic, but I earned three degrees so they fixated on that and not the gap.

The gap is more important than the jobs you will list.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think 10 years is plenty IF those last 2 employers are relevant to the job for which you're applying. if that's not the case and you need to go back further to demonstrate your qualifications, do so.
i wouldn't put recommendations on the resume itself, just state that they are available upon request (and if they're interested, they'll request them.)
i guess if you've got super-glowy ones it might help, though.
a brief statement about the gap in the cover letter sounds good.
good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

If you have jobs prior to 2006 that are directly relevant to the jobs you're applying for, it is worth listing them on your resume, even briefly. If they don't relate at all, I don't think you need to go back any farther than your last two, since it takes you almost 10 years back.

I wouldn't advise specifically saying in your letter that you were a stay at home mom either. Though it's not legal to discriminate based on that, people will find ways around it and to declare another candidate a "better fit" than you. You are better off simply stating that you are looking to return to the workforce, without giving a reason as to why you left it in the first place.

It is recommended by many HR professionals, and preferred by many employers, that you keep your resume to one page. So, fit as much as you can, but try not to go onto a second page.

Also, if you have volunteer work during the employment gap that could directly translate into on-the-job skills, you can list those on your resume as well. For example, if you're an accountant, and you served as the PTA Treasurer, you can list that.

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answers from Boston on

You don't provide references if asked. Most resumes stay "References available on request" but it's really not necessary because they will assume you can provide references if asked.

You can do a chronological resume, but it's harder if you have a big gap. You can also do a skills-based resume, listing your abilities/accomplishments by category (not sure what you've done before, but some people would list administrative stuff together (skills, not employers), then sales, then event planning. But if your experience is very varied, then you would do separate resumes for different types of jobs - one that's sales based, one that's writing based (or whatever your areas of expertise are). Interviewers don't want a list - they want accomplishments ("Increased department productivity by 25%" or "decreased turnover" and so on).

Don't forget to include any volunteer activities you did as a SAHM - if you ran 3 school fundraisers, that's an important accomplishment. If you chaired the town's Heritage Day Committee or the Relay for Life with 3,000 participants, that's worth including. Again, don't just list what you did - say why it's important and why that prospective employer needs to know what you did. How can your skills help them? That's what you need to communicate.

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