The work experience section of your resume will make or break getting the interview.
It needs to include relevant points that prove—of the hundreds of candidates applying—you’re the person hiring managers should consider first.
Employment Only, Please
Label the section “Work History,” “Work Experience,” “Employment Experience,” “Employment History” or any other title that concisely reveals what the section entails. It should only include experience for which you were paid. This includes full-time work, part-time jobs, self employment, internships, and projects for which you were a part of temporarily. It doesn’t include volunteer jobs, or any other type of unpaid, charitable work.
If you do feel there are unpaid experiences that the hiring manager should know about, the information should go in its own section. Label it “Relevant Experience” or “Other Experience.” Write it the same way you will the work history.
What Should Be Included in Your Work History
Here are a few things you CAN’T leave out from your work history section:
- Names of organizations where you were employed.
- City and state of each organization.
- Positions and/or titles you held. (In case of promotion, list only the last position held.)
- Employment periods for each job, written as Month/Date – Month/Date.
- Brief description and/or bullet list of responsibilities.
You can add promotions, but only do so if it doesn’t make the resume too long. You resume should only be one page (two if you have a lot of experience or are applying for an executive position).
Your resume shouldn’t exceed one page simply because you insist on compounding information. Remember, once you’re sitting across from the hiring manager you can fascinate them with how you went from administrative assistance to vice president.
It’s in the Details!
One very important part of the work experience section is finding the best way to list your contributions to the company. Be accurate and concise. Highlight the relevant information that relates to the position you’re applying for. Start with the most important points and work down. Keep it under 12 bullets, depending on how long you held the position. Avoid wordiness and hyperbole. In general, employ brevity.
I worked on a daily basis with the company’s most important clients helping them solve problems and making them happy.
This is better:
Worked with clients to solve problems.
While there’s no concrete rule for formatting, you want to find a design that’s appealing to the eye. Many go with columns, with information like company name, dates, and position to the left and descriptions and duty on the right.
Creating Unique Histories
Edit your work history section so that it’s relevant to your target job—and that job only. This might mean rearranging details or adding certain accomplishments for a specific opening. Or, you might have to leave out certain accomplishments and save them for a different position. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep several versions of your resume to accommodate your skills.
For example, you’re looking for executive secretary job openings. One version of your resume could detail why you’re perfect for a law firm, one for a bank, and yet another for advertising. Create a resume that tells that particular hiring manager you’re right for that position with that company.
Avoid major gaps in your work history. Even if you were unemployed, list volunteer work or community service under the “Other Experience” section. If there are programs and classes you took during the period, be sure to list it under “Education.” Long, unexplained gaps can raise a red flag for hiring managers.
The work experience section of your resume has to be structured carefully if you want to impress hiring managers. If you want to see how other candidates put together professional-looking resumes, use LiveCareer’s resume examples or resume templates for guidance. They can certainly put you on the road to building an excellent work history of your own! And if you need help when it comes time to build a cover letter, we’ve got you covered there, too.
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