How far should you go back on your CV?
If you’ve had a successful career that goes back years, sometimes with various companies, it can seem intimidating to think of what to include on your CV and how far back it should go back.
Some candidates make the mistake of preparing a CV that’s way too long, such as keeping every employment position on there since leaving school or college.
Also, what makes it more confusing is the inconsistent information relating to this issue. So how far back should your CV go?
The overall rule
The first place to start is by answering this question which is to establish the overall rule. A CV should go back no more than between 10-15 years or your last 5-6 employment positions in reverse chronological order. Your CV is brief and relevant, Recruiters aren’t interested in what you did 20 or 30 years ago. This is because your recent experience will be of more relevance to the position you’ve applied for.
However, whilst this overall rule is a good place to start, there will be times where you may need to diverge. Here is a brief look at why this could be relevant to you.
Revolution of your career
If you’re looking to change your career, or go back to a previous job, then you may need to go back further in your CV. The key is to focus less on your fresh jobs that may not support your application, but still mention them.
However, if you need to validate a specific skill set from a position you held several years ago then write a bespoke CV for the position you’re applying for.
A CV is basically a sales pitch. So, it makes sense to focus on what will sell you most to a recruiter. Regardless of when this experience was gained.
Skills based CV
A similar way to achieve the above is prepare a skills-based CV. This swings away from the predictable CV style and focuses on the skills you’ve gained in your career that apply to a specific position you’re applying for.
The reason why you may choose to write a skills-based CV will severely impact where you draw upon your experience to back up your transferable skill set. Also, if you’ve had a recent career break, this is a good opportunity to demonstrate your previous experience.
This also needs to be a summary, so try not to go into too much detail. You should use the skills section to focus the reader and demonstrate employment experience that’s relevant to the application.
Keep to one or two sentences per employment position, with a truthful explanation of what you did there. Also, do remember to list any voluntary experience if it backs up your application for that role.
Remember a CV should get you to that interview. So, before you prepare it, have a think about what will help you to demonstrate your suitability for the position. Try to only keep it two pages, be brief in a bullet point format, and take things into account when reading our blog.
If you do this then your CV should stand out and proceed to the next stage of the application process.