Do I have to list my entire work history on a job application?

By | 2022-02-11T16:24:13-05:00 September 21st, 2010|0 Comments


I have heard that you only have to list the previous five years of work history on a job application. The reason I’m asking is because in 10 years of nursing, I’ve held six different jobs. I know this looks unattractive to employers and could reduce my marketability. Also, one of the jobs only lasted seven months. I would like to not include that one at all, especially since I don’t plan to pursue that particular specialty again.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Bernadette,

What you heard is not correct. On a job application (which is different from a resumé), you must complete all requested information. Work history becomes especially important when applying for a patient care position because many states have laws requiring full disclosure of past employers. This is to protect the public (and the employer) from those nurses who are suspected but never convicted or disciplined for possible wrongdoing (drug diversion, harming patients) and who just keep changing jobs to hide it.

Regarding your erratic work history, you may just have to deal with that on an interview, which I’ll discuss further in a moment. Eliminating positions on your resumé, especially a position that is more than a few months long, is not advisable. First, you’d have to account for that time as “not working” and second, if the interviewer or screener finds out you worked there and you didn’t mention it, it could look suspicious. You’d be amazed at how that information can come out.

I wish I knew why you changed jobs so much. That issue needs to be dealt with. Perhaps you are having difficulty finding the right fit for you. If that is the case or if you had problems of any type on the jobs, you may need the services of a nursing career coach to work that out. You can’t continue to job-hop. Find a nurse coach by doing an Internet search, asking around, or getting a referral from the International Coach Federation ( or your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (whether or not you are a member). Be sure to find a nurse coach who has familiarity with a wide variety of nursing career options.

During an interview, when asked why so many jobs, and depending on the actual reason, say something like, “I’ve had trouble finding my niche in nursing and have been trying on a lot of hats. I’m ready to settle down in one place and really take the time to learn and grow and I’d love to do that here.”

Read “Picking Up The Pieces of Your Career” (

Best wishes,


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