Should You Leave Old Jobs Off an Application or Include Them?

Tips for Including Jobs on a Resume or Job Application

Man sits on couch with a laptop applying for a job online

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You may not need to include every job you've ever had on a job application or on a resume. For starters, you may not have enough room to list them all, and some of the jobs you've held might not be relevant to the position for which you are applying.

When job applications are online, there may be space to list an unlimited number of past positions. On other applications, you may only be able to list a certain number of jobs. How many positions should you list? And, more importantly, if you are limited, which should you include or exclude? We'll help you figure that all out below.

Key Takeaways

  • You do not need to include every job you've ever had on a resume or a job application.
  • Stick to the jobs that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying.
  • If you do need to list every job you've ever had, keep the descriptions short and sweet for the jobs that do not offer relevant experience.

Including Jobs on a Job Application or Resume

There are strategic reasons to include—or exclude—certain past jobs. As a general guideline, you should craft your work history to best support the specific position to which you are applying. 

The exact number of jobs to include on your applications will depend on your personal situation. If you have an extensive and diverse work history, it will be more difficult to represent your experience in an easily digestible form. At the same time, you'll have more options as to which positions you choose to include. Candidates with limited experience will not have as much leeway since they'll need to present at least some evidence of past employment.


You can always list your entire work history on your LinkedIn and include a link to your profile on your resume or in the job application.

Read the Job Application Very Carefully

Look for instructions that indicate what to list, such as statements like "list all past jobs." In these cases, you will be limited to what the directions say and should include all positions that meet the instructions and fit within the available space.

In the case where you have many jobs in your distant past that are not relevant to the job for which you are applying, you could summarize your employment during that period. For example, for positions you held years ago, you could say something like, "Worked in a variety of retail services positions between 2005-2010, details available upon request."  


Leaving out jobs, particularly during your recent work history, could be grounds for rejecting your application.

Listing All Positions for a Certain Timeframe

Some applications may specify that you list all positions for a certain timeframe, like the past five or 10 years. In a case like this, you should cover all positions in that period of time, but you can be selective about what you include in years prior. Regardless of the timeframe, find a way to incorporate all jobs that show evidence of critical skills or knowledge bases you have that fit the job.

If you've left out jobs that you had outside of the employer's timeframe, and those positions are irrelevant to the current position, you can write something like, "Highlights of additional employment provided below. Complete work history available upon request," if there is a place on the online application for additional information or notes.

Keep It Short With Irrelevant Jobs

Be brief when describing irrelevant jobs that you are forced to include, or jobs that are from the very distant past. Instead of detailing duties that aren't impressive or relevant, make other points. If you held an evening job at a restaurant, for example, you might say "Worked extra hours to expedite the repayment of college loans."

If applicable, you should also highlight promotions, awards, or key successes. That way, even if the work isn't relevant, you can at least make a point about other aspects of your candidacy.


If you aren't directed to provide your entire work history or all positions within a certain time period, limit the number of positions to the jobs most relevant to the position you're applying for. Just be sure to address any gaps in your work history.

Keep Your Work History Honest

It’s important to portray your employment history in the best possible manner. If you can closely match your experience to the employer’s requirements, you’ll have the best chance of getting hired.

However, it’s even more important to be honest on your application and resume. When you sign a job application (on paper or online), you attest to the fact that what you have listed is accurate and truthful. Employers can, and do, verify the information that job applicants give them. If your application isn’t honest, it can cost you a job—either now or in the future.

You Can List More Than Your Work History

Applicants with a limited number of non-related experiences should try to incorporate relevant coursework, volunteer work, and co-curricular roles. If the employer doesn't have a special category on their application for this info, then include these experiences within the employment section. Label them appropriately, so it is clear that the positions were unpaid. For example, you could list a volunteer activity as "Volunteer Event Coordinator, PTA" or "Fundraising Volunteer, American Cancer Society."

Addressing Employment Gaps

Some candidates are reluctant to leave off less pertinent positions because it would create gaps in employment, and yet, they don't want to include less impressive jobs. In this situation, one option is to leave these jobs off and use the comments or additional information section to provide an explanation.

This approach will make the most sense if you have an easily understandable rationale for taking time away from your career or downshifting to a less relevant, or impressive position. Perhaps you were taking college courses, raising a child, or caring for a family member. Keep in mind that your cover letter might also be a place where you can account for any disruptions in your work history.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many jobs should you list on a resume?

There's no specific number of jobs to include on a resume—it'll all depend on your experience. Generally, resumes tend to be one page long, but it depends on the job sector. If you can include all of your jobs on one page, go for it. If you can't, you may want to leave off the oldest jobs you've held, or those that are not necessarily relevant for the job to which you are applying. You may also be able to submit a resume that is two or more pages long.

What order should jobs be listed on a resume or application?

The most common way of listing jobs on a resume or application is in reverse chronological order to show your most recent jobs at the top. This is the easiest way for a hiring manager to see if you have recent, relevant experience for the job.

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  2. The Partnership for Public Service. "Writing a Federal Resume."

  3. National Institutes of Health. "Federal Resume Tips."

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