What To Include In A Resume Experience Section
When you’re writing a resume, the resume experience section provides detailed information about your employment history. This is the real heart of your resume, and the more years you have been employed, the more decisions you will have to make about what to include and what to leave off in this section.
Resume Tips That Get You Noticed
There is no right or wrong way to write a resume. But competition for jobs is fierce right now. You need to develop a resume that sets you apart from the masses. It cant be a passive piece of paper. It must be a passionate representation of who you are and why you are the best person for the job.
In todays competitive job market, its important that you help employers see the benefits of hiring you over someone else. Organizations need to know that you will help them attain their corporate objectives. Your resume is the first step in expressing that message to them. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
How Much Experience To List
Typically, a resume will have information about your most recent 10 to 15 years of experience. Beyond that timeframe, you do not need to include details unless the positions are relevant to your current career.
In some industries, including experience that dates back more than 10 or 15 years can actually hurt candidates. For example, in tech, including jobs that focused on older, outdated technologies might make a candidate look stuck in the past, even if theyve kept their skills current.
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Put Some Polish On It
Once you’ve decluttered your resume, it’s time to take it a step further and smooth out any wrinkles that remain. Need some help? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter’s first impression. The experts at Monster can help you strengthen your resume so that hiring managers sit up and take notice.
Mistake #: Having Your Employment History Start Below The First Half Of Page 1
Youll notice in the work history samples earlier, this section starts early on the resume. Making a hiring manager or recruiter go digging in your resume to find this section is a big mistake.
Put it front and center . You want your recent experience and achievements to be dead-easy to find for any company you send your resume to.
Thats one of the best tips I can share in general: Dont make employers go digging for your recent responsibilities and achievements on your resume. It should jump out of the page at them because it should contain a lot of content compared to other sections, and it should appear high up.
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Don’t Leave Huge Gaps In Your Employment History
At the end of the day, it’s up to you how much or how little information to include on your resume. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep the resume as short as you can without leaving out anything pertinent, but this is generally easier said than done. A one-page resume is the goal if you dont have a lot of experience, but many job seekers have two-page resumes. Just dont go any longer than that.
Q: What about online applications?
A: The trick with online applications is that ATSsystems may require specific dates that make gaps more glaring. If you find yourself in that situation, make sure you explain the gap in your cover letter or during your interview.
As long as you try to focus on the most relevant information in detail, you can feel free to be brief about the less important stuff or leave it off altogether. You dont want the gaps to be too large, however, because that will raise questions in the minds of recruiters. Be prepared to answer any questions about any larger periods of time not accounted for as, unless you have a good reason for it, most employers won’t find it desirable to learn that you were out of workfor an extended time. While this may mean including less relevant positions or short-term jobs, it will also prevent a potential employer from thinking you were unemployed for several years. You may consider simply listing your employer, dates, and job title without offering a full job description.
Previous Work Experience Examples
Now that you know the basics of how to write the work history section of your resume, lets look at some good employment history samples from real resumes.
I invited a couple of experts to share their resume work history examples for this section.
Ill share two resume work experience examples from them, and then Ill include a very simple/plain example that Ive used in the past with a lot of success.
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What To Include In Your Resume
Now that you know what not to include in your resume, take a second look at your resume to make sure it includes all the right elements to effectively tell your story and market your qualifications and work experience. Click on the following link to learn what 11 pieces of information every professional should include in a resume.
Not sure if your resume includes any of these mistakes? Let us help! Take advantage of TopResume’s free critique today!
What Is A Work Experience Section
Employment history is a detailed summary of your past work experience. Its a detailed report of all jobs youve held in the past.
Depending on your background, you can include full-time positions, part-time jobs, temporary roles, internships or even volunteer work.
You should list key information such as names of companies, locations, job titles and positions held, dates of employment and responsibilities.
But more importantly, it should highlight your main achievements and provide specific examples.
It has many names. Some people call it employment history. Others refer to it it as work experience or work history.
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What’s Included In The Experience Section Of A Resume
This section of your resume is where employers will look to see what jobs and job titles you’ve held in the past, providing them with an informative picture of your career arc.
Ideally, you want the experience section of your resume to demonstrate growth. Over the course of your career so far, youve almost certainly added skills, experience, and responsibility. This section will highlight how youve developed as a candidate, as well as providing a sense that youre an ambitious person whos always learning.
If your career path has taken some twists and turns, this might give you pause, but dont worry even a zig-zag path can demonstrate growth.
Some of the strongest candidates are those whove added skills in other, seemingly unrelated fields. Its all about how you present the information. Its also fine to leave out jobs that dont fit the story youre trying to tell the hiring manager.
Using The Chronological Resume Format
A chronological resume format is the most common resume format, however there are many misconceptions about it. See if it’s the best choice for you, how to format it, what information to include, and how to organize each section.
Some employers may also ask you to provide a detailed list of every job you’ve worked for the past five or 10 years. In this case, it’s necessary that you list absolutely everything as it’s likely that the company will check your tax records to verify this information, meaning you could be disqualified should you decide to leave anything off.
If you are trying to shift into a different role, consider what resume format you will use. Reverse chronological order is preferred, but there are cases where you may want to group your previous experience based on relevance to your target job. Then you can create a section of your resume for other job experience if necessary.
Q: What if Ive had many jobs in a short time?
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Start With A Resume Summary
Your resume summary is an introduction to employers that highlights your qualifications and relevant background for a specific job. Thankfully, even without experience, you can still write one.
If you picked up relevant skills during school or studied something related to the job, for instance, you can include it in your summary. Heres an example of a computer science majors resume summary note how they only include skills honed in school, and dont mention work experience:
Resume Summary Example
In Addition To Jobs Include Your Educational History And Any Certifications
Writing a complete job history is a good place to start, but it’s not the only thing you should include on your resume. List your schools, degrees and any leadership positions you held while in college. You may also want to list any professional certifications you have earned and include the date to assure hiring mangers that your credentials are current.
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Writing Resume Job Descriptions
For each company you have worked for, you will want to provide your title, the company’s name and location, the years you were employed, and a short summary of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
Avoid making the mistake of simply listing tasks. You want to use this section to highlight your abilities and accomplishments. Use resume action words and focus on demonstrating that you helped the company solve its problems and achieve its goals bonus points if you can do so with a dollar sign attached. These highlighted achievements will pop on the page if you separate them, using bullets, from the descriptions of your work responsibilities. Its also a smart strategy to boldface dollar figures, growth percentages, or other key accomplishments.
What If You Have More Than 4
In general, focus on the bullet points per role that are most relevant to the job youre applying for.
Sometimes, this may mean youre leaving off some less impressive accomplishments. But by doing this, you’re prioritizing the most relevant information and making your resume easily scannable is more likely to get you hired than including as much information as possible.
That said, if youve held multiple roles at the same company especially if this represents a promotion you can list each job separately underneath the same company heading. This allows you to list 4-6 bullet points underneath each role, which is a helpful workaround if youve spent a bulk of your career at the same employer.
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Pertinent Titles Companies Or Achievements
If you worked at a specific company, held a particular position, or had an accomplishment that will impress recruiters from long ago, consider including it on your resume. You can create a section for earlier work history or career highlights to showcase this experience without it detracting from your relevant experience today. Include honors or accolades in your summary or in an award or accomplishments section . This approach draws attention to your accomplishment without listing the job from years ago where you earned it.
Addressing Gaps In Your Work History
Rather than leaving a gap, it is best to indicate what you were doing whether you were a full-time parent, on maternity leave, traveling, studying, or volunteering. If you are currently in a gap period, you may want to consider fitting in some volunteer work along with the job search which is an excellent element to include in your resume. You are likely to catch the eye of a potential employer if you can show you have participated in some type of volunteer work even on a very limited basis.
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Include A Variety Of Skills And Achievements
Lets say that you have multiple work experience entries on your resume, but the job title and responsibilities were the same or very similar. Avoid repeating bullet points word-for-word from one job to the next. Once an employer reads a bullet point about a skill or an accomplishment, they get it. They do not need to reread it in the next work experience entry.
Include the most detailed accomplishments in the current or most recent relevant entry. Then, in the other work experience entries, dig deep. Think of that project or task that took you outside of your day-to-day. Even if it was something you only did once, it shows your ability to go outside the typical expectations of your job to positively impact an organization. That is who employers want to hire!
Format Your Job List Correctly
Before writing your resume, consult templates and examples to get an idea of what it should look like. Be sure to list your work entries in reverse chronological order and list the years that you were employed. Keep your formatting consistent by regulating the font size, style and color, and make sure all your bullets match and that you follow a consistent standard for grammar and style.
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Resume Experience Section Examples
Here are two examples of how to write resume experience sections.
Sample One: This is for an entry-level job candidate. Here, instead of using the heading Professional Experience, one can use the broader caption Experience Highlights which allows the inclusion of a description of recent college training:
University of Washington, Seattle, WAStudent ~ Environmental Science Successfully completed comprehensive course of study in environmental science, laying solid groundwork for career in environmental restoration. Key coursework included: Environmental Biology, Geology and Soils, Air Pollution Meteorology, Waste Treatment Technology, and Ecology. Internships:
- Acme Environmental Consulting : Honed expertise in soil sampling, documentation, and client relations during internship with established environmental consulting firm.
- Hamilton Mine Rehabilitation Project : Under the direction of faculty advisor Dr. Sarah Rose, participated in $1.4 million reclamation project to reclaim mercury-contaminated mining field.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Service, CaliforniaPark Guide / Trail Laborer Provided nature enrichment workshops and led park tours for park visitors ensured timely maintenance of trails and park facilities.
- Rehired based on proven teamwork, work ethic, and customer service excellence.
- Played key role in restoring 18-mile wilderness trail destroyed during wildfires.
What About Jobs Where I Got Fired
This is another question where the answer is it depends. If it became clear early on that the job wasnt for you or that you had a personality clash with the boss, theres no need to include it. This is especially true if the experience does not apply to the work you seek now.
If you were fired from a long-term position, definitely put the job on your resume. Do not say you were fired, but be prepared to answer the question, Why did you leave this job? There are a couple of ways to handle this question. The big no-no is lying. You may choose to gloss over the reason by saying that you were looking for new opportunities, but remember that your former employer may reveal that you were terminated during a reference check. Thus, your best bet is honest.
How honest do you have to be when explaining your termination? Our answer is briefly honest. No need to go into detail. Alison Green offers these short explanations in The Cut:
Actually, I was let go. Thats on me I took a job that required pretty advanced design skills, which frankly I dont have. I thought Id be able to get up to speed quickly, but I underestimated how much Id need to learn. They made the right call, and I was relieved to get back to editing.
Just for Inspiration
*Source: Business Insider
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College Graduation Date On Resume
There is no need to include your college graduation date unless you’re a recent college graduate. Here’s an example of college listed on a resume without dates:
Bachelor of Arts in EnglishUniversity of New York
Here’s an example of a college graduation date listed on a resume:
Bachelor of Arts in English, 2020University of New York
Many people choose to drop their graduation date from their resume when the degree was earned 10 years prior. If you are worried about age discrimination, leaving off this information is a good way to shield your age.
Condense Your Opening Summary
Les Gore, managing partner of Executive Search International, recommends including a qualifications summary near the top of your resume. “Tell me a little about your background,” he says. “Don’t go overboard, and don’t overdo the selling. Be succinct and descriptive in terms of your experience and collective knowledge.”
And forget about crafting lofty mission statements or “me-focused” resume objectives that talk about wanting a fulfilling career with opportunity for growth, advises Harvey Band, former managing partner of recruiting firm Band & Gainey Associates. “You’re wasting page space with that, and you’re wasting your time and mine,” he says. “Use the top third of the page to communicate your most recent experience and your most impressive accomplishments. Get my attention. Then I’ll keep reading.”
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