Think of your resume as a marketing tool you can use to showcase your professional journey and persuade potential employers to call you for an interview. Every part of your resume is essential, but your work experience section is a key component. It provides a comprehensive overview of your value and achievements. How you structure your work history can significantly influence how hiring managers perceive your qualifications.
We’ll guide you through the best practices for presenting your past work effectively. From strategically organizing your job history to highlighting key responsibilities, we’ll explore techniques to elevate your resume and make it stand out in a competitive job market.
When listing your work history on a resume, it’s best to present it in reverse chronological order: start with your most recent position and then work your way back in time. Formatting your resume this way allows employers to see your most recent and relevant work first. Then, you can provide smaller snapshots of older supporting roles that were stepping stones to your current position. Begin each job description with a simple informational first line followed by a curated selection of bullet points describing the most compelling details about that role.
Let’s take a look at how to use these two elements.
It’s important to provide clear and concise information for each previous position you list in your work experience section. The first line should include the job title, organization name, location (city, state), and dates of employment (month/year). This is all the information you need to give about what, when, and where you worked.
We recommend using the pipe character (“|”) to separate these elements for a streamlined and professional look. Presenting your work experiences in a simple, organized format allows hiring managers to scan and capture this information easily. Follow this structure for each position included in your resume.
[Job Title] | [Organization Name, City, State] | [Month Year – Month Year]
Directly below the first line of your most recent job, you’ll include four to six bullet points outlining your responsibilities and accomplishments specific to that role. Your most recent work is often the most relevant, so use this space to highlight impressive contributions and results. You can omit or use fewer bullet points for older positions but provide at least two if you use them. The work you did in the past may not be as relevant, but it’s still important to present the full range of your professional experience. This strategy helps to show your growth and progression over time.
When presenting your work history, your main goal should be to impress hiring managers and improve your chances of landing an interview. Your bullet points should leave them excited and curious to learn more. That may sound challenging, but we’re here to guide you through the writing process. Below we’ll give you expert advice on how to best describe your work experience in a way that engages and persuades readers.
We’ll review how to keep this section organized, dynamic, results-driven, and tailored for each position you apply for.
To effectively showcase your work experience on a resume, you need to be concise with your bullet points. Focus on the most pertinent and compelling aspects of your duties and condense them into bite-sized pieces of information. Make the hiring manager’s job easier by allowing them to quickly grasp key highlights of your experience without feeling overwhelmed by excessive details. They don’t want to read a boring list of job duties; they want to know how you executed your role and what effect you had in the workplace.
Immediately capture your resume reader’s attention and add impact to your statements by starting each bullet point with a strong action verb. This powerful approach brings your accomplishments to life. Action verbs also help to keep your bullet points brief. You can make your point quickly and avoid redundant first-person language (e.g., “I was responsible for…”). Consider using action verbs like these in your resume to give it a dynamic and professional tone:
Use concrete evidence to support your professional experience and build credibility. You can incorporate specific numbers and measurable achievements to show your influence at work (e.g., sales numbers, customer satisfaction scores, increase or decrease in percentages). Demonstrate your ability to achieve results in the workplace by giving real examples of how you affected change.
Remember that your unique experience sets you apart from all the other equally qualified applicants. No one has accomplished what you have, where you have, so use that to your advantage. Getting specific with numbers will distinguish you from the other candidates and leave a lasting impression.
Highlighting your promotions, awards, and other recognition in your resume is highly recommended. These accolades serve as a testament to your skills and successes, setting you apart from other candidates in the eyes of prospective employers. Take pride in the extra recognition you’ve received through your work.
Hiring managers want to hear about those promotions. Show them you consistently excelled in your role and gained trust from previous leaders. Highlight your exceptional skills and dedication by including any professional awards. These past successes signal to potential employers that you’re a high-performing candidate worthy of consideration.
Recognizing that different organizations have distinct needs and goals is vital when crafting your resume. Rather than using the same content for every job application, tailor this section for each specific company you apply to. This demonstrates that you’re a strong fit for the role and understand the employer’s needs.
Research the organization’s culture and values and use similar language in your work experience section to speak directly to their needs. Customizing your resume for each position shows your genuine interest and dedication, greatly enhancing your chances of landing an interview and advancing through the hiring process.