There’s no straightforward answer to how many jobs you should list on your resume. The exact number will vary — depending on how long you’ve been working, how many jobs you’ve held, and how relevant your work experience is. There are, however, a few guidelines you should follow when deciding how many jobs to list on your resume.
How far back should your resume go?
In general, you should limit your resume to the past 15 years. For most people, this might include 3-6 jobs, but the exact number of jobs is less important than their relevance to the position you’re applying for now.
How to decide how many jobs to list
You shouldn’t start out with a concrete number in your head and build your resume around that. Instead, determine how many jobs it makes sense to list based on these important factors.
Based on your experience
If you’re new to the workforce or have stayed in one job for a long time, it’s fine to list a smaller number of jobs. Don’t feel the need to pad your resume to look like you have more experience than you actually do — if you’ve held one relevant job post-graduation, list that one job alongside an expanded education section, projects, and volunteer work.
If you’ve changed careers, stick to the positions you’ve held that are most relevant. That might mean leaving off a huge chunk of your work history — to avoid looking like you lack professional experience, add a summary at the top of your resume to explain the career change and highlight your transferable skills.
Even if you have a lot of experience, consider leaving off jobs that are a) older or b) lack relevant accomplishments. It’s okay to curate your resume to tell the story you want it to tell, which may mean choosing a smaller number of jobs with more impressive accomplishments.
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Based on the job
Another good place to start when deciding how many jobs to list on your resume is with the job description itself. The type of job and number of years of experience required should give you a feel for how many jobs to list. For example, If a job asks for 10 years’ experience, make sure your resume goes back at least 10 years. You should also list accomplishments that relate to each duty or ‘must have’ listed in the job ad, which means choosing past jobs that are the most similar — or, if those jobs were in a different role or industry, ones that demonstrate relevant transferable skills.
How To: Use a targeted resume scanner to help match your resume to the job you’re applying for.
Based on your resume
If your resume is getting too long — generally more than 1 page for entry-level and early career positions, or 2 pages for those with more experience — cut down the number of jobs you list. If listing older jobs means you’re having to include less impressive ones to fill in the gaps, consider creating a specific timeline — 5-10 years is fine, unless you’re specifically applying for jobs that require more experience. Showing key skills, relevant accomplishments, and meaningful career progression is more important than a huge breadth of unrelated experience.
How To: Read our detailed guide on the optimal resume length in 2021.
General tips for listing jobs on your resume
List jobs in chronological order, with your most recent job first. Don’t be tempted to use a functional resume format (which leaves off the dates of employment) to conceal awkward gaps — it will only make hiring managers wonder what you’re trying to hide.
Include 3-6 bullet points for more recent roles and 1-2 for older positions.
Don’t list every single job you’ve ever held. Only include those that strengthen your candidacy. That means jobs that are similar or in some way are relevant to the job you’re applying for and that have meaningful accomplishments — which generally excludes jobs you only held for a few months.
Avoid leaving huge gaps in your resume. If necessary, group multiple short-term roles under a single heading, like “contract work.” This looks neater and allows you to pull out more accomplishments than you’d be able to for each job individually.
For more detailed tips, read our guide on how to list work experience on your resume.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to list every job on my resume?
Nope! Your resume doesn’t have to be a complete job history. Only include jobs that are relevant and that strengthen your candidacy.
Do I need to list every job on an application form?
It depends. If the form specifies a complete job history, then yes. Otherwise, treat it the same as you would your resume and list the most relevant ones only.
Can I pick and choose which jobs to list on my resume?
To some extent, yes. You can leave off older or short-term jobs, but leaving off a long-term position while including older and newer positions can make it look like you were unemployed for that period and leave the recruiter with questions.
Do I need to list short-term jobs?
No. If you held a job for less than 6 months or so, consider leaving it off your resume altogether unless there’s a very compelling reason for including it.
What if I have too many jobs to list?
If you’ve held multiple short-term jobs and leaving them off would create a noticeable resume gap, see if they have anything common that you could list under a single heading, like “contract work.”
I was fired. Do I still need to list that job on my resume?
It depends on the circumstances. If you were let go for a reason outside your control (like the company downsizing or restructuring), it’s fine to include it and won’t reflect badly on you. On the other hand, if you were fired for cause, you may want to leave that job off your resume. This is especially true if you want to avoid recruiters digging any further — remember, hiring managers can contact people from any job you list on your resume, not just those you list as references.
Similar to the above, if you’re filling out an application form that specifies a complete job history or asks if you’ve ever been fired, you do need to answer honestly. Reference checks are a thing, and it’s better to miss out on a job offer than to be fired (again).