How Much of My Background Should I Show in My Resume?

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Experienced people start running into problems–they show too much and they look too old. How much should I show?

00:00 Intro

00:28 The scenario

00:48 The answer

03:15 Summary

03:25 Outro

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Hi, I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I started to be called The Big Game Hunter when I did recruiting because I’d hunt down leaders and staff for organizations. Did it successfully for a long time. Now, people hire me for no BS job search advice and career coaching globally, because it made the process of finding work and succeeding at it much easier.

Someone contacted me and asked me a great question. An experienced person, a lot of experience, successful, and he’s out looking for something else. He’s not in a rush. But he’s a guy with 20, 25 years of experience and he wants to know how much of my background should I show in my resume?

And the answer to me is, you want to emphasize the most recent 10 years, but not neglect the older experience. The probability is that for someone with 20, 25 years of experience, even 15 years of experience, that work that you’ve done back in the day, isn’t particularly relevant.

However, if you start your resume, with the first job being that you are a manager somewhere, people are going to know that you’re old anyway, which the whole point of this is to avoid the ageism, that sometimes takes place when reviewing resumes.

However, what you can do is emphasize the most recent 10 and then have a follow up sentence that says something to the effect of “Prior experience was with . . . and then mention the firm and the role that you had, where I did such and such, and with so and so where I was involved with this and that and this and that for seven years, or whatever it is. You can mention the number of years, if it’s not going to be bad. You don’t want to talk about three months here, and eight years there and six months here. You want to emphasize the most recent 10. But you don’t want to look like a Job Hopper or have done something inconsequential.

Talk about your early experience with brevity, where I was a an accountant, or where I was a controller for a firm. And before that I was a fill in the blank. And before that I did such and such for this firm for three months, three years. Mention that in a series, not necessarily listed one under the other. As a sentence, because I want you to spend more time emphasizing your more recent work, because that’s the work that’s more likely to get you the interview.

But they’re going to be curious about the antiquities of your experience and they don’t want to feel like you’re trying to con them or hide anything from them. But they know it’s not going to be particularly relevant. And in the interview, of course, you mention “I worked for such and such firm where I did whatever it is that you did there. And if they’re interested, they’ll go into detail because they want to see the stepping stones from where you were to how you got there.

So emphasize the most recent 10. Don’t neglect the older work. Have a sentence or two that talks about the firms from your past.

And I hope you found this helpful. I’m Jeff Altman. Visit my website, JobSearch.Community. I’ve got curated information to help you– video courses, books and guides. I’ve got free stuff and behind different tiers, in addition to all my video courses, books and guides (and there are a lot and there are a lot more coming). There’s also the ability to ask me questions, get me on Zoom calls, or receive coaching from me. So again, that’s JobSearch.Community. Have a terrific day and most importantly, be great!

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People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS Career Advice globally because he makes many things in peoples’ careers easier. Those things can involve job search,

hiring more effectively, managing and leading better, career transition, as well as advice about resolving workplace issues.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2800 episodes. 

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