This is typically the most important part of your resume to employers. Share your work history with an eye toward highlighting the skills, tasks and achievements of the most interest to future employers.
Start each job with a heading that includes the job title, employer, dates of employment and location (city and state or city and country).
Consider adding brief company descriptions if they are informative or impressive, such as products and services, industries served, size (sales and/or employees) and market standing.
You might add job overviews/scope statements highlighting your key responsibilities, budget/staff size and to whom you reported. This puts your work into context and helps an employer qualify you. Companies often use different job titles in different ways, so this information helps employers assess how much responsibility you have had.
Two keys to a stronger resume
- Results: The most important way to make your resume stronger is to redirect your thinking from a duty or task to accomplishments. It’s fine to start by listing your key actions and responsibilities. Revisit job descriptions or performance evaluations might help jog your memory and build out your list. Then, redirect your focus to the results of your actions. Ask yourself “so what?” How did that action help someone or something: a product, process or project? The answer is your result.
- Numbers: Use numbers to quantify your results but also the extent of your efforts. Consider how much work you completed, the size of the project, how big an account, how large a facility and how valuable a product line.
Writing accomplishment statements
Most people think of the “experience” section as a place to document their duties and tasks, move beyond this thinking. You can include bullets that discuss responsibilities and daily tasks, but highlight your accomplishments. Regardless of your level or scope of responsibility, there are likely distinct ways you have made an impact on your employer or things you do particularly well or better than other people – these are your accomplishments.
- Start with the result: Put the results first. They are the most important parts of the message, so you want the reader to see that first and keep reading. This ensures that during a quick scan of your resume, they see the primary impacts of your efforts.
- Call out what’s important: Consider what may have been noteworthy or unique about what you did, how you did it or faced what challenges to put items into meaningful context.
- Best information first: Like any good ad, put your best selling points first or risk losing the reader.
- Be descriptive: Don’t be afraid to use descriptive words to more fully present your message. A few well-placed adverbs can convey how or how well you performed or completed a project.
- Use active verbs: Use “active voice,” meaning present or past tense, to portray you as the action-taker in each sentence.
- Focus on you: While there are times you will describe a role, project or product, keep the focus on you and what you did. Future employers are not hiring your past projects, they are hiring you.
How much experience to include
Consider how much of your work history to include. If you are a more experienced professional you could be concerned that a lengthy work history will highlight your age. But just as important is the question of relevancy. If your older jobs do not add anything both new and meaningful to your message, you might not want to include them at all.
If earlier jobs do offer meaningful content, there are several ways to present them. One is to include them with the same level of detail as more recent jobs because they do have worthwhile details to share. Another approach is to include them but with much reduced detail. Finally, you can summarize your previous experience in a footnote of sorts that includes whatever key pieces of information you want to share, whether that be industries, well-known company names or functional expertise.