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How to Properly List Work Experience on Your Resume

The work experience section of your resume is worthy of your careful attention. But what exactly should that part of your resume look like? And what will optimize its effectiveness?

Keep one word in mind: relevance.

How much, and which, work experience you include on your resume depends on where you are in your career journey. For instance, are you changing fields or exploring a new industry? Did you just graduate, or are you a more seasoned professional? While those are critical considerations, regardless of the details, any work experience that merits space on your resume should be relevant to the job for which you’re applying.

  • If you’re more established and the position is in your current area of expertise, you can probably limit what you include to a few of your most recent jobs. A good rule of thumb is to focus on your past 10 to 15 years of relevant experience.
  • If you’re new to the workforce or making a career change, remember: experience can encompass more than just a paid, full-time job. If it makes sense (go for relevance again!), you might include internships, volunteer work, temporary assignments, or coursework and/or projects.
  • Tailor your resume to the job.

    To determine what would be most relevant, start with the position job posting. Read it carefully and note the skills and duties it mentions. Then, make a list of the responsibilities you have experience performing. When they overlap, you have identified what’s relevant.

  • Look for keywords in the posting and regurgitate them on your resume. Don’t overdo it, but identify keywords in a job description that an applicant tracking system (ATS) or a recruiter would likely look for. This is critically important because an ATS automatically scans resumes before they reach human hands – and the system will quickly reject any documents where keywords are not aligned.
  • Think about transferable skills. These are generally soft or interpersonal skills that carry over well from job to job and industry to industry. In addition to technical and other hard skills, look for these in postings, as well. Soft skills like teamwork, communications, time management, leadership, and problem-solving are increasingly desirable to most employers.
  • When using a chronological resume format, list your past jobs in reverse chronological order. (Note: In some cases, you may want to opt for a format other than chronological.) For each one, include the job title, company name, location, employment dates, and then your duties, responsibilities and achievements in each role.

  • Under job duties and achievements, aim for three to seven bullet points for each position you have held. Describe what you did in that role, starting with a high-level overview and then drilling down into relevant details.
  • Keep it concise and impactful. Use statistics and numbers, such as sales percentage increases, whenever possible. This quantification adds rich context to your work history and can be a great way to wow a prospective employer.
  • For more tips on perfecting your resume or conducting your successful job search from start to finish, contact the career development professionals at PrideStaff Fresno today. We look forward to helping you land your next great opportunity!

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