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Too Many Jobs On Your Resume?

Updated on January 24, 2010

I see your resume is... WHOA!

Get this the reaction often? Then you've got too many jobs on your resume!
Get this the reaction often? Then you've got too many jobs on your resume!

Think you might have too many jobs on your resume? Does it take two grown men to carry it? Not every past job is a plus on a resume. Here's something to think about...

If you need a two-wheel dolly to transport a single copy of your resume, maybe it's time to reconsider the number of jobs on that document. Baby Boomers especially who have been out in the work force for 30-40 years have likely accumulated a pile of jobs. Government stats tell us that on average, people change jobs about every 3-5 years. That doesn't sound extreme until you do the math on a 50-year-old with resume in hand. All of a sudden, six to ten jobs lined up on a resume becomes an albatross. And you needn't be a Boomer. I've seen kids in their 20's with ten jobs. That's a potential problem – on paper.

Lighten The Load

Understand first that a resume is not a biography. Rather, it's a summary of relevant qualifications for employment. And companies are going to be primarily interested in your most recent 10-15 years, assuming those years are relevant to the position you seek. What to do with those earlier jobs, or jobs that simply aren't relevant to your current goals? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Drop kick ‘em. That's right, boot extraneous jobs plumb off the resume, especially if they were jobs of short duration or they were part-time positions. And especially if their absence does no harm to your qualifications.
  2. Aggregate ‘em. Some jobs cry out to be merged or combined. For example, multiple jobs with the same employer, especially if the duties were relatively similar and those jobs don't show a progression of responsibility (if they do show a progression of responsibility, that is an asset and I would probably leave them alone).
  3. Hide ‘em. OK, don't hide them too well. Here's an example: did any of your jobs take place during school years? If so, consider "hiding" them as bullet points under the "Education" section. You still get the benefit of that work history on your resume, but you reduce the crowding under the "Experience" section and you leave the reader with a more visually-appealing document.

In keeping with that latter trick, setting up two slightly different headings for your work history can gently hide jobs that have worn out their welcome. For example, put the jobs you want to focus on in a section called "Relevant Experience" (or say, "Retail Management Experience," if that is the direction you wish to take your job search). Jobs from the distant past, or those irrelevant to your goals, could be pushed down into a lower section such as "Other Experience" or "Previous Positions." Job information here would be minimal: company names and locations, job titles, dates.

Two Caveats To Keep In Mind When Reducing The Number Of Jobs On A Resume

Go ahead and think out of the box when looking to reduce the number of jobs on your resume, but keep two caveats in the back of your mind.

1) Be honest, and
2) Don't replace a problem with another problem.

Regarding the latter, for example, think twice before drop kicking an irrelevant job if by doing so creates a noticeable gap in employment. A big gap in employment will send up a red flag to prospective employers just as surely as too many jobs.

And you'd think they'd be grateful that it didn't take a wheelbarrow to get your resume in the door.

Thinking about using a professional resume service? "Make sure the writers are certified and they offer a guarantee," says former recruiter David Alan Carter. Carter compares the Web's most popular resume writing services at the website, reviewing quality of workmanship, spelling out pricing, and giving each a star ranking.


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    • profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago

      MY dlilemma is that I am cross-trained. I have always tried to go beyond my responsibilities to learn additional...and in between job (5 co. restructurings /project endings) I have taken contractual / temporary assignments...

      So my problem is that, for example, I have Human Resources experience and Oil & Gas Credit & Collections but it is over 10 years old.. although it is more RELEVANT to what I am looking for...So the more current is Not Relevant... Sales industries, Office Management etc...

      So how does one put the older MORE RELEVANT info. in the Current section without throwing off dates, showing gaps AND Aging oneself.

      If I list the older work experience in ADDED SKILLS-- and the more current in the current- I am not TARGETING the Job....

    • David Alan Carter profile image

      David Alan Carter 7 years ago


      I'm also an advocate of targeted resumes. In this economy, one "general" resume will only get you so far. Better to adapt and customize that resume to fit the opportunities that present themselves in a job search.

      Thanks for stopping by. --David

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Good advice, I found that the best way to have a resume was by having two. I kept one for like a casual job. And then one for the real job. As if you say you were a secretary you will not get a casual shop assistant job.

      You would be over qualified. Also I left clients ages off of resumes that I did. Once at the interview that was when they told them their age. Just another way of looking at a resume.

    • David Alan Carter profile image

      David Alan Carter 7 years ago


      A long-delayed "thanks" for your kind comments. Makes a fella smile and keeps him plugging along. --David

    • Army Infantry Mom profile image

      Army Infantry Mom 8 years ago

      This is Great advice,..I used to make money on the side for resume writing for people, knowing tips like this is dire, its these tips hat makes one stand out from the crowd and in these days and times, you gotta stand out. High 5 on the hub !!!!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Good advice for job hunters. Am going to forward this to some people that I know who are currently looking for jobs. Thanks!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub with a humorous turn. Thumbs up!