You only get one chance to make a good first impression. And your job resume is your first impression to employers looking to hire you for your dream job. If you don’t wow them here, other job seekers and candidates will reach the coveted interview before you.
You can get creative with how you organize your resume and which resume sections you choose to include. But you should always have work experience on a resume. It establishes your professional background while demonstrating the value you could bring to a potential employer.
The guide below will walk you through how to put work experience on a resume correctly, along with actionable tips and examples to guide you along. It’s arguably the most important section of your resume, so pay close attention and use the examples to start drafting your own work experience section.
Keep reading below to get started!
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Before we learn how to list job experience on a resume—
Why Include Work Experience on a Resume?
You know that you need to list your previous work experience / employment history. But have you ever stopped to think about why it’s so important? The work experience section of your resume could be the difference between getting the job or losing out to another candidate.
Well, if you do it right, that is.
If a potential employer is reviewing your resume, they are likely going to start with your work experience section. To them, this is the most valuable way to learn about your qualifications. But what exactly are they looking for? They are looking to see that you have relevant experience, knowledge, or skills that you could bring with you to their organization.
Formatting a Work History Resume Section
When writing a resume, each section should be labeled right, and it should all have a clear, legible font. You can label your work history section as “work experience,” “job history,” “work history,” “professional history,” or “experience.”
Underneath the label, include the following components for each job you’ve had:
- Professional title
- Company name
- Company location
- Dates of employment
- Relevant responsibilities of the job
- Key achievements with numbers
As you write your resume, you can choose the exact work history resume format based on your personal preference. Usually, highlight your previous employment titles in bold or italics to let them immediately stand out to hiring managers. Many employers will see a job title and draw certain conclusions from that alone, so make sure it is easy to find.
Job history on a resume should be in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent positions you held and then list the next most recent job, etc. If you are currently working for a company you can leave out the end date or write “present” to show that you still hold the job title.
You should include work experience within the last 10 years. If you have been working for less than 10 years, that’s okay! Include all relevant work experience you have.
Now you have the layout for the work experience section of your resume, so it’s time to talk about content. Keep reading to learn how to write effective work history on a resume.
Related Read: How to Choose a Career
Writing Your Key Responsibilities
So, you were a sales manager at a clothing store – but what did you do? From your job title or the company you worked for, potential employers probably have an idea of what you did day-to-day at your job. But your goal is to show the hiring manager why you excelled at those tasks and added value to the organization.
You also want to use this section to highlight key knowledge or skills from previous jobs that could be used for the job you’re applying for. These are often referred to as “transferable” skills.
Typically, the key responsibilities are organized into bullet points because they are short and to the point. You’re not writing a novel, so you can skip the fluffy language and get right to the point. What did you do and why was it important? Be as specific as you can, and use the job description to help you along.
Here are a few examples of effective work history bullet points:
- Created and distributed customer satisfaction surveys to increase employee accountability
- Processed over 75 invoices a week to ensure up-to-date accounting information
- Managed a team of 4 sales associates to improve floor sales by 15%
You’ll notice that the bullet points start with an action word. Starting with your action will help you narrow your focus when talking about the job experience, and hiring managers will appreciate that.
Here are a few examples of action words to use when drafting job experience on a resume:
After you’ve picked an action word, think about how that action impacted your past work and the organization you worked for. Did it increase profit? Did it help an event run smoothly? Did it improve productivity? Use a resume format with numbers to help show hiring managers what they want to see – that you were successful and competent throughout your work history.
Think about what value you added while you worked there and share it in a concise way. Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments – your resume achievements will help you stand out. So, if you won employee of the month or had the highest sales on your team, include that as one of your bullet points!
Remember that each bullet point should be short – eliminate any unnecessary words or phrases. Each job title should have between 2 and about 6 bullet points. More than 6 bullet points can be overwhelming when a hiring manager looks at a resume work history section.
How to Include Promotions
If you were hired by a company to fill a certain role and then were promoted within the company, you can include that as part of your job experience on a resume. You can do this by listing your job titles as separate entries under work experience.
So, you would include a title such as “account assistant” along with the time you held that role and what responsibilities you had. But above that, you would include the promotion title, such as “account manager” to show that you transitioned to a more prestigious role within the company.
Potential employers like to see promotions because it shows that you excelled in a role and were ready for more responsibility, leadership, or challenges at your workplace. You can include a bullet point explaining the promotion if you feel that it adds context to your change in positions.
For example, you could include the following statement if you were promoted within the accounting department at your company:
- Met standards of excellence within accounting department earning manager status after one year
If you changed departments but were not necessarily promoted, you can still list the role separately. If you used to be part of the sales team but you moved to the creative department, list both titles and repeat the company information. You can choose whether you want to include context for why you moved departments.
Related Read: How to Turn a Passion Into a Life-Long Career
What to Do if You Don’t Have Relevant Work Experience
What if you are seeking a job in technology but you’ve spent the last 3 years working in fashion? Don’t panic. Plenty of people change their career paths over time, and hiring managers know this. And while it can make the job search more challenging, it’s not impossible.
Here is where you focus on those transferable skills referenced earlier. There are always creative ways to show how and why your skills would make you a good candidate for the job.
For example, if you’ve been working in fashion and want to break into the technology field, focus your work experience bullet points on how you used technology. Did you navigate a particular program to order fabrics? Or did you use accounting software to manage inventory? How did your experience in fashion prepare you to learn and use technology?
You can also include a work experience section on your resume that shows you would be a dependable employee in any field, such as communication, leadership, or creativity. Focus on all the assets and the years of experience you bring to the table and consider using a cover letter to explain why you are interested in changing career paths.
Tips for Including Work Experience on a Resume
Now you know why and how to create a resume work experience section. Next, let’s review a few tips for making the job history section of your resume stand out to a potential employer.
First, choose key responsibilities wisely. You don’t have to list all the administrative tasks you completed. Instead, create one bullet point to explain that you handled all day-to-day scheduling, supply ordering, and new hire paperwork. You have a limited number of bullet points for each job – use them wisely by showing you have diverse resume skills.
Next, create a balance between personal and group achievements. Your resume is a chance for you to shine but it’s also a place to show that you are a team player. When describing your work experience, consider including something that shows how you contributed to a team effort to accomplish a goal.
And finally, always tailor the work section of your resume to the job description of the position you are applying for. Make sure that you include work experience that relates to the expectations of the role you are applying for, whether full-time or part-time, entry-level or executive.
Write an Epic Resume Work Experience Section
Your dream job is waiting for you. And your resume is the key to securing it.
Follow the guidelines above on how to list work experience on a resume and instantly become a stand-out candidate.
Remember to adjust your resume for different careers depending on the job description. Highlight the most relevant, transferable knowledge and skills. Describe professional accomplishments with numbers.
Most of all, never stop learning 🙂