There are so many nuances when it comes to writing an effective resume for today’s market that it’s hard for anyone other than a trained professional writer to keep track. Between the evolving needs of employers and their growing reliance on recruitment technology, resume writing has become both an art and a science.

In this series, our goal is to explain some of the common changes resume writers make — and why they are in your best interest.

Why your earlier work experience was cut out

Your writer didn’t forget to include your earlier positions in your resume, we promise. They were removed for a good reason.

While there are some resume-writing rules that professional resume writers like to debate, the overwhelming majority agree that a resume should only include the last 10–15 years of employment. There are exceptions to this rule, of course (I’ll explain further below). However, generally speaking, the standard cut-off for old information on a professional resume is 10–15 years.

Explaining the 10–15 year cut-off

There are three main reasons why professional resume writers tend to eliminate – or, at the very least, truncate  – a job seeker’s earlier experience beyond the 15-year mark:

Gives employers exactly what they want

The further along you are in your career, the less relevant your earlier work experience becomes. Employers care most about the details of your recent work that tie back to the position they’re currently filling — not the jobs you held 15 or more years ago. By focusing on the parts of your recent experience that demonstrate your qualifications for the job, you’re giving employers exactly what they want: the Cliff Notes version of your work history, rather than the novel.

Helps achieve the optimal page length

The average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether an applicant is worth further consideration. When you have so little time to make the right impression, it’s important that you stick to the two-page resume rule. Removing the jobs that fall outside of the 15-year window helps achieve this optimal page length that recruiters prefer.

Combats age discrimination

We may not like to admit it, but the fact remains: Age discrimination is a reality in today’s job market. By eliminating your earlier work history or minimizing its details, we’re helping to shift recruiters’ attention away from your age and toward what really matters: the value you have to offer a prospective employer.

Exceptions to the 10–15 year rule

There are a few exceptions to this rule, of course. For example, if you’ve worked at the same company for more than 15 years, if you’re pursuing a job where the listing specifically requires the candidate to possess more than 15 years of experience, or if you’re working in an academic or scientific field, your writer may elaborate on some or all of your earlier work experience.

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