A well-written work experience section your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume shows that you have the essential qualifications to serve as an asset to a potential company. It also chronicles your professional history, providing substantial information related to your previous designations, tenure duration, competencies, skills-set, and accomplishments. Here, you can add details concerning any (or all!) full-time/part-time positions, internships, temporary roles, and even volunteer work.
Overall, an informative and expertly organized work experience section tremendously boosts the credibility of your job application. Especially, when it complements other aspects, cover letter, portfolio, etc, of your resume.
Unfortunately, one in every three employers feels that job seekers often don’t have “a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job”. For most people—whether they’re a fresher or a seasoned professional, highlighting their work experience can be a challenging task.
So, how do I get started?
Before we wholly delve into the best practices for projecting your work experience in a resume, let’s get a few basics out of the way:
Zero-in on the specific jobs/positions you’d like to mention
In most cases, determining which jobs to talk about on your resume depends entirely on your career history and the position you’re currently applying for.
For example, if you’re applying for a Client Relations Manager (where the primary responsibilities include providing customer support, and fostering long-term B2B/B2C relationships), then your work experience section should answer the following questions for the hiring manager:
- Have you held a Supervisory position before?
- If yes, how long did it take for you to get promoted to Supervisor?
- What’s the largest number of people you’ve been responsible for?
- What benchmarks did your previous companies rely on to assess your performance?
Don’t stress over a scattered work history
Job hopping in today’s fast-paced, competitive landscape is not just commonplace but also actively encouraged, especially among the younger workforce.
According to a recent Gallup report, 21 percent of millennials have changed jobs in the last year. This is more than 3x the number of non-millennials. So, try including short stints and /or passion projects instead. Especially, if they directly correlate to the job you’re applying for in terms of the required skill-set.
As a side note, you should be prepared to defend your career choices and have a confident response ready when questioned about the level of commitment you’re looking for.
Refer to the job description for clues
Most job seekers skim through JDs when applying for jobs. In fact, they spend less than 40 seconds reading a JD before hitting ‘apply’ and sharing their resume. As a result, companies are inundated with applications from, candidates that clearly do not have the necessary qualifications for the job.
JDs often contain valuable information—phrased with popular keywords—about the purpose of the job, company background, minimum qualifications, and anticipated responsibilities. Conduct a thorough examination of your overall work history to identify experiences that fit the JD.
If you’re sharing a copy of your resume over email, make sure to include the keywords mentioned in the JD. This will help you bypass Applicant Tracking Systems that many companies use for the preliminary screening of applications. Why is that important, you ask? An ATS will peruse through the work experience section of your resume for certain keywords that have to match as is.
Remember, 62 percent of employers suing an ATS agree that “some qualified candidates are likely being automatically filtered out of the vetting process by mistake”. This is why we started Workship, in a bid to humanize the hiring process, so you are screened based on your skills and knowledge by experts who understand your field.
The Secret Sauce
Now that you’ve chosen the positions you’d be listing in the work experience section of your resume, we can dive right into the specific bullet points for each one.
Candidates, especially from a services background, often write a lot about the company they worked. And while doing that, they miss out on the actual work they did. For a hiring manager, it’s very important to understand the contribution you make and how you add value to the team.
Focus on showing instead of telling. Elaborate on the steps you took to achieve a certain professional goal. Include the role you played, and the tools/technologies that you used.
For example, instead of simply going over your responsibilities as a Software Developer, try explaining specific measures that you took on an individual level to combat a problem. Did you single-handedly create technical documentation for reference and reporting for a project? Did you closely work a team of developers to design algorithms and flowcharts for an ongoing product? Were you responsible for evaluating user feedback, and recommending improvements in a program or system? Now is the time to tell your potential employer all about it
Strong Action Verbs
It’s common for all of us to fall down the adjective rabbit-hole when talking about our professional accomplishments and that’s where action verbs come in. For example, instead of using organized, ordered, and filed, use catalogued, executed, and monitored. Replace talked, led, presented, organized with addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized, or reconciled.
Numbers offer tangible proof to your claims. Did you increase the blog readership by 300 percent? Were you on the organization team for a community-focused event that experienced a 20 percent hike in footfall? Don’t hold back from using those digits to your advantage!
Did you gain any technical certifications on the job? Maybe, completed a short-term course to improve your professional expertise? Opting for on-site training shows initiative, and gives the impression that you’re always ready to learn more.
Awards and Recognition
Were you were singled out in a previous job for exemplary performance? Go ahead and brag because there’s no better place!
Penning down a solid work experience section for your resume might seem daunting at first. However, we hope the aforementioned tips are of help.
That being said, remember to always, always customize your resume based on the company (and the job!) you’re applying to. When it comes to work experience, hiring managers are less likely to appreciate a generic, one-size-fits-all resume. Take time to understand what a company truly values in its employees, because only then, you can become one!