How to summarise 2 to 30+ years’ experience in your resume

Resumes & cover letters  

Summarise experience , No experience , Resume tips , Writing your resume , SEEK

Whether you’re new to the workforce or have decades of experience under your belt, writing your resume to reflect your level of experience is a skill that needs frequent consideration.

While there are many advisable resume-writing tips that will help you get ahead (listing your most recent experience first is just one of them), there is no one-size-fits-all approach for your entire career.

Use this guide to learn what to include or exclude in your resume depending on your years' of experience.

  • 2 years’ experience. With two years in the workforce, it’s likely you’re considered a junior in most fields of work. If you’ve only had one or two jobs in that time, “consider including high school achievements, society or club participation, or certificate training to demonstrate you are an enthusiastic and driven member of the community,” says Joanne Besser, Director of recruitment consultancy Career Threads. Your resume should focus on your achievements such as helping to improve the rostering system at the café you worked at, or the participation rate at an event you organised at TAFE or university. 
     
  • 5 years’ experience. Five years of experience is a significant period of time to master a set of skills, providing you’ve either remained in the same field of work during that time or developed a robust set of transferable skills. Similar to junior professionals, you may only have worked in a couple of roles, so you could bulk up your resume by including volunteer experience to help round out your general work experience and to demonstrate you have gained and developed the skills required for the job you’re applying for.
     
  • 10 to 15 years’ experience. When you’ve had ten to 15 years of work experience, it’s likely you feel confident in your skillset and abilities, and have a lot to show for your service to your industry. This is when summarising multiple roles, companies and responsibilities into a concise resume can become a challenge. Aim to keep your resume to two pages, and leave out any early roles in your career that may have no relevance to the job you’re hoping to land now. You may decide to only summarise your last three roles and simply list previous employers, highlighting key achievements to demonstrate the development of your knowledge and skillset.
     
  • 20 to 30 plus years’ experience. According to Besser, senior professionals with 30 or more years of experience in Australia and New Zealand are more likely to have 4-page-long resumes in comparison to their American counterparts who are encouraged to condense their experience into two pages. But Besser says, “four pages for senior professionals is a reasonable amount to really communicate their wealth of knowledge.” She advises however to only highlight key achievements under each role to make it easier for recruiters and employers to digest. You may also want to highlight programs or groups you have been involved in such as mentoring to a junior colleague or advice to a charity board. These types of experience help demonstrate application of your skillset within the wider community.

Regardless of which stage of your career you’re in, it’s important to remember that it’s not how long you’ve been in the workforce but what skills you can bring to the role. Make this clear in your resume, and you’ll be better positioned to secure your next great role.