The experience section of a resume is where prospective employers will look to get an idea of your career arc and find out about your prior job titles and responsibilities. The key to the experience section is to exhibit career growth. Over your working career, you have certainly added experience and skill, but the upward trajectory of your career will speak to your ambition and willingness to learn, develop, and improve.
Having skill sets that are outside of your current industry is always a plus and including those on a resume improves one’s standing as a candidate. Along the same line of thinking, leaving out jobs that do not fit the narrative that you are trying to relay to the hiring manager is also advisable.
Writing The Experience Section
In the experience section, you should list your prior places of employment, dates you worked for the listed employers, positions you held, and short descriptions of work responsibilities. These should be enriched with keywords and can be enhanced by quantifiable achievements listed in a clean and concise bullet-list format.
The experience section’s information is typically presented in reverse chronological order, beginning with your current, or most recent job, and moving backward through the prior ones. You can also include any prior part-time, temporary, or summer jobs in this section, along with any relevant internships.
Employees coming into an entry-level position are encouraged to include every job they have had with an emphasis on how those jobs are added to their skill set required by the position for which they are applying. For those with several years of experience in the relevant field, including every job you have had is unnecessary.
After about a decade of work, you may find that any positions before that point are less relevant to your career. These positions can either be left off the resume or you can listen in a short, truncated format at the end of your experience section. For example:
Additional experience includes retail sales jobs at Harvey’s Books (20XX-20XX), Lucy’s Clothing shop (20XX – 20XX), and early roles at ABC company.
How Much Experience To List
Unless the positions are relevant to your current career, anything beyond the 10 to 15-year timeframe does not need to be included. In certain industries, noting experience from too far back can actually be detrimental to a resume. For example, in the tech industry, including jobs from too far back in time could make a candidate seem too experienced in potentially outdated technologies, even if their skills are actually current.
Writing Resume Job Descriptions
You will want to provide the job title, company name, location, and your tenure at that place of employment, along with a short list of your responsibilities and accomplishments.
Remember that the goal is to highlight your achievements, so avoid simply listing tasks in this section. Focus on how you helped the company solve its problems and achieve their goals using resume action words. If you can show that your role earned the company some amount of money with a number attached to the accomplishment, that is a good bonus. If separated using bullet points, these achievements draw a hiring manager’s attention and “pop” as points they will remember. Boldfacing growth percentages, dollar figures, and other key accomplishments is also a good strategy.
When listing your current position, use the present tense. When describing previous positions, one should employ the past tense.
Keep formatting consistent, regardless of your resume style. If you choose to use bullet points to outline your current position, you should use the same formatting breakdown for prior ones as well. Similarly, if your years of tenure for positions are left-aligned for your current place of employment, make sure they are left-aligned for the past ones as well.