Any resume, whether it uses a classic chronological or more modern skills-based format, would be incomplete without a reference to the candidate’s work experience.
The experience section on your resume is very important to show a potential employer your career path. However, writing this core section of a resume can be as challenging for some candidates as writing the resume objective for example.
For each jobseeker, their work experience section will be very different, some more complete than others but there are lots of ways to ensure that your career history is inviting for the reader.
This guide offers tips on how to write a work experience section for a resume that will attract a potential employer’s attention.
The work experience section on a resume is the nucleus around which other sections are built. This means that some jobseekers may be cautious of the work history part of a resume if they have little to no professional experience or gaps in their work history.
Also, it can be challenging to write a resume when an applicant has an extensive work history as they must decide which roles have been most pivotal in building their career and which can have a diminished description or be removed completely from the list.
As each candidate will have personal and professional circumstances that vary greatly, the work experience section will be unique to each resume, thus it must be optimized to show the full potential of that jobseeker.
The idea of the job section is to make the jobseeker stand out in the eyes of the employer and to persuade the chosen company that your professional experience is apt for the role on offer no matter how little you may have by following some of the advice in the following guide on how to write a work experience section on a resume.
Writing the Experience Section
The work experience section is vital as many hiring managers and potential employers will first skip other parts of a resume to see this section.
The reason for this is that many potential employers find that your career trajectory is a clear way to define if you will be a suitable applicant for the position. They want to know where you have been, what you have done and how you benefited your previous employers.
To begin, choose a title which encompasses the contents of the section: Work History, Work Experience, Relevant Experience etc. depending on your level of professional experience and what you will include.
For example, some students may include internships or part-time positions, which are not in the same sector or similar to the role that they’re applying for, but that could be advantageous for their application.
Another aspect to consider when you learn how to write the experience section on a resume is that all the information contained in this section should be pertinent to the job that you’re applying to and only this position, company and sector.
TOP TIP: The more relevant the information, the more likely you are to receive a call-back.
If you are still a little lost and not yet sure how to do the experience section on a resume, why not try using a resume template or an online resume builder which can give you helpful examples and practical tips for completing this section.
How to show your professional experience on your resume
The best way to capture the attention of a hiring manager is by being able to show your professional experience on your resume in a clear, concise and interesting manner.
- Whether you choose to use a classic chronological format, a combined resume layout or the functional structure for your resume, the work experience section should always follow a reverse chronological frame. This means your work history list will begin with the most recent position held and go backward in time, detailing the positions held between now and 10-15 years back.
- The order of work experience on a resume is crucial to maintaining a clear, easily-understandable resume. The worst thing you can do in your resume is jumble up the work experience section, not following an organized structure and confuse the employer in the process. They will simply toss the resume in the trash and continue their search.
- Another important aspect to consider when thinking about how to show your professional experience on your resume is remembering to include information which provides evidence of the significance of hiring that specific candidate. This means explaining how you have contributed in the past to your roles and how this has helped the company to grow or develop in a positive manner.
- Using action verbs such as performed; launched; implemented; spearheaded; coordinated; directed; increased; restructured; acquired etc. is the perfect way to detail your responsibilities and achievements in each position. These words are much more interesting to a potential employer than simply listing your daily tasks.
What to include in a resume experience section
Here is exactly what to include in a resume work experience section so you don’t miss anything out or overload your resume with inappropriate information.
Firstly, remember that the order must be reverse chronological when it comes to writing the different positions you have held in your resume work experience section, including your current or most recent role and working backwards.
Unsure of how far back to go with your work experience? With regards the length of time to be considered for the work experience section, it is recommendable to include between 10-15 years of experience.
Each job post should detail the job title, employer/company name, location and dates of employment.
Some of these details can be disregarded when using a specific resume format if necessary. For example, in cases where candidates have large gaps in their job history, it is ideal to employ a functional resume layout in order to downplay this aspect and highlight your skills for the position.
Finally, each job post should include a brief paragraph or more commonly a bullet-point list of your responsibilities held in that position as well as including an achievement or way that you contributed to the role. In this section do not simply list tasks that you had in the various roles.
These short work descriptions must include practical and quantifiable examples of the jobseeker’s value for that company or role. Hiring managers want to see that the applicant would be a vital asset for the company who could help them to grow and develop.
It is not advisable to overlist either the job roles you have had or your responsibilities or accomplishments within the company. It is best to remain as focused as possible and only list those roles and duties which are relevant to the current vacancy you’re applying for.
Tips for writing your previous work experience
Carefully consider the following tips for writing the work experience section on a resume to ensure you showcase the best aspects of your career trajectory.
- As we have mentioned, the perfect time limit for your work experience section is 10-15 years in total of job history. Do not exceed this limit unless you are applying for an executive position and wish to show prior experience or you have remained steady in one role for close to a decade.
- Remember to only mention relevant, appropriate experience and tailor this section to match the job vacancy
- If you have large gaps in your career history, it is considered appropriate to show why you have not worked in this time by explaining briefly for example: Full-time parenting, study leave, traveling etc.
- Also if you have been unemployed at any point but have taken part in courses or internships, do not forget to mention these either within the relevant work experience section or in another part of your resume.
- Similarly, if you have little on-the-job experience either in your field because you are changing careers or in general because you’re just starting out, having finished your studies or even to accompany ongoing studies, you can include voluntary or part-time work too where appropriate.
- Do not overfill your work experience section by repeating lots of the same tasks. In order to avoid this, you can group together similar experiences.
These tips on how to complete a work experience section on a resume should help you get started but if you need further advice there are many online resume makers which can help guide you through the process.
Formatting the experience section on a resume
When writing a resume, there is one thing you have to always keep in mind: completing the work experience section well is key to standing out in the application process but if it is not formatted correctly, your resume could still find it’s way to the trash can within seconds.
It may seem simple but it’s surprising the amount of people who do not show consistency throughout their resumes and may remember to include all the pertinent information while forgetting to format it correctly and give the reader a chance to see clearly which information goes with which resume section.
- To begin with, the information included in the work experience section must always be the same. That means, for each position mentioned, you must list the same details as in the previous: job title, company name, location, dates of employment and list of responsibilities etc.
- The font used throughout the resume should remain the same and especially should not change more than twice. For example, it is acceptable to use one font for titles and another for the information but no more.
- The data recorded for each job in the work experience section should be aligned equally and not be spread out randomly over the page. It must be clear and neat for a potential employer to scan quickly and easily.
- Finally, with all formatting and detailing of information, remember to be consistent and as clear as possible to ensure the highest level of readability.
If, of course, you do not know how to format a resume correctly, you could save time by using an online resume creator which does the job for you or download a resume example with the basic structure already set.
ResumeCoach offers a range of resume samples and a guided online resume maker to get extra resume help when you need it most.