What should go first in a resume: education or experience? How to put your education on a resume? And what an education section on a resume should look like? Time to learn it!!
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Want your resume to stand out from hundreds of candidates? Land you interviews? Then, the Work Experience section of your resume is one of the most crucial components of your job application.
Does yours show quantifiable evidence of your successes, instead of just describing the work you did? Is it personalized to every job to match the requirements? If not, it’s time to make the work experience on your resume work for you.
This guide will show you:
- How to describe work experience on a resume.
- Sample resume job descriptions you can adjust and use today.
- The best template and format for listing your work history on a resume.
- What to write in a resume for Work Experience to highlight your achievements.
- The easiest way to make your resume work experience section match the job offer.
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Sample resume work experience section made with our resume builder.—See more resume examples here.
One of our users, Nikos, had this to say:
[I used] a nice template I found on Zety. My resume is now one page long, not three. With the same stuff.
Right, so you’ve seen a killer resume work history section. Now, let’s break down what makes it so great and how you can write equally stunning resume job descriptions yourself.
Use this helpful table of contents to navigate through the article:
- Make the Section Heading Stand Out
- Put Your Work Experience Section in the Right Spot
- List Job Descriptions on Your Resume in Reverse-Chronological Order
- Make Each Entry Clear and Legible
- Use Relevant Job Description Bullets for Each Job
- Add a “Key Achievement” Subsection
- Don’t Try to Hide Employment Gaps
How to Describe Work Experience on a Resume
First things first: your resume work history section is your most valuable real estate.
This study proves that 91% of recruiters want candidates to have professional experience. Another report has shown that more than two out of three recruiters find the resume work experience section the most vital.
This means you need to organize your resume so that the work experience section:
- Is easy to spot within a split second.
- Allows the hiring manager to grasp your value immediately.
So, here’s how to list work experience on a resume, step by step:
1. Make the Section Heading Stand Out
Label your resume work experience section with one of the following titles:
- Work Experience
- Employment History
- Work History
Make the section title larger than the rest of your job descriptions. Write it in bold or with ALL CAPS.
2. Put Your Work Experience Section in the Right Spot
- Just below your resume summary if you have a lot of professional experience.
- Below your education section if you’re a fresher without extensive resume work history section.
Pro Tip: Bullet points or paragraphs? Bullet points are a better choice 99% of the time. They help you save space and make it easier to be brief and to the point. Use paragraphs instead of bullet points only if you’re writing an academic CV, not a resume.
3. List Job Descriptions on Your Resume in Reverse-Chronological Order
- Start with your current or most recent job.
- Follow it with the previous one, then the one before it, and so on.
This way, you’ll put your best foot forward—the pinnacle of your career, your most recent job, will get the most attention.
In general, listing your jobs chronologically descending is the cornerstone of the classic reverse-chronological resume format. It’s ideal for most job seekers, with very few exceptions. Still, do explore other resume format examples to make an informed choice.
Pro Tip: Use the past tense (“managed,” developed,” “supervised”) for descriptions of your past jobs. For your current job description, stick to present tense.
4. Make Each Job Description Entry Clear and Legible
At the top of every job description, put:
- Your job title
- Company name and location
- Dates worked
Resume Work Experience Example—Heading
Boston Consulting Group, Philadelphia, PA
Pro Tip: You can start each entry with either your position or the company name. That’s of little consequence. Just remember to be consistent with your layout. The same goes for dates of tenure. If you choose to left-align dates, left-align all of them. Don’t make recruiters search and guess.
5. Use Relevant Job Description Bullets for Each Job
- Your current job should have the most bullets and the most detail. As you go back in time, limit the number of job description bullet points to 3–4.
- In each bullet point, focus on describing your achievements, not just duties and job responsibilities. Don’t write about every task you’ve performed. Make sure each resume bullet point earns its place by focusing on quantifiable results.
- Utilize the most out of action verbs and power words to make every entry more persuasive.
- Make sure your descriptions support the skills you put on your resume.
Add only the most relevant duties and achievements, tailoring every job description to the responsibilities listed in the job ad. What do I mean by tailoring?
- When reading the job description included in the ad, look for keywords related to your responsibilities. Mark them or note them out.
- If you see duties that you’ve performed, include them in your resume job description bullet points.
Have a look at how this works in practice. Let’s say there’s a job ad for a programming position that requires candidates to:
- Provide mobile application project design and development (1)
- Meet with members of technical staff, business owners, and other stakeholders (2)
- Design and communicate project requirements (3)
- Review test results and direct further development (4)
- Mentor less experienced staff (5)
Now, let’s see a customized example of a work experience section for a resume:
Black Knight Financial Services, Jacksonville, FL
- Designed and developed up to 10 applications projects per year (1).
- Designed project requirements (3) in cooperation with data analysis teams.
- Participated in project meetings (2) with technical staff members, business analysts, and external stakeholders.
- Trained and mentored (5) over 15 junior programmers and developers.
- Developed a test automation (4) tool that reduced testing time by 55%.
See? The candidate didn’t cram the resume work experience section with all the previous duties. Instead, they listed only those that show they’ll handle prospective responsibilities with ease. It's a sure-fire way of making your resume stand out.
Want more? Here’s a piece that will help you become a resume tailoring pro in 5 minutes: Resume Tailoring: The Easiest Way to Customize Each Resume You Send
6. Add a “Key Achievement” Subsection
- It will work like a magnet for recruiters’ eyes.
- In it, mention something you cannot afford your prospective employers to miss.
- Use the Problem-Action-Result (PAR) method to describe your success.
Here’s how the PAR formula works. Remember the sample resume job description above?
- Developed a test automation tool that reduced testing time by 55%.
Problem? Testing took too long.
Action? Developing a new tool.
Result? Testing time cut in half.
You can use this formula for every bullet point in your resume job description. Have a look:
- Implemented new training programs for circulation and access services librarians, which resulted in cutting the full training time by over 40%.
Problem? Training librarians took too much time.
Action? Implementing new programs.
Result? Training time cut almost in half.
- Commended for creating the in-house newsletter to communicate management’s vision. Reduced email back-and-forth by 35%.
Problem? Poor internal communication.
Action? In-house newsletter.
Result? Back-and-forth emailing reduced by over one-third.
Having a hard time coming up with your achievements, not just listing duties? We’re here to help. See this article: Spice Up Your Resume With Achievements: Here's How
7. Don’t Try to Hide Employment Gaps
After the 2010s rise in unemployment, employers realized that it takes more time to find a perfect match between a jobseeker and an organization than it used to 20 years ago. The application process can last quite a while, and there's a multitude of valid reasons for people to take breaks.
A study published by the American Economic Review has shown that, contrary to what most experts believed back in the 90s:
- Even long-term spells of unemployment or irrelevant experience don't matter for employers if they have been followed by professional experience in your field.
- Current employment gaps have no impact on the success of your job application if you've been unemployed for no longer than 9 months.
- Contemporary employment gaps over 9 months can hamper your chances only if you're seeking medium/low-skill jobs.
Trying to conceal resume work experience gaps will most likely do more harm than good, as recruiters are well aware of people trying to do it. Instead, consider using a different resume format—a functional resume works quite well in this particular situation.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
Alright. You’ve learned the basics. Do it our way, and you won’t have to sweat what to include on your resume or whether a two-page resume will backfire. Before we move on, here’s a quick recap of how to list your work experience on a resume the right way.
How to list work experience on a resume?
“Work Experience,” “Work History,” or “Employment History”; In bold or ALL CAPS; Larger font size
Where to put your work experience
Below your summary of qualifications/resume profile if you’re experienced; Below your education section if you’re a fresher
Order of jobs on a resume
Reverse-chronological: start with your current or most recent job, follow it with the one before it, and so on
Information in each entry heading
Job title, company name, dates worked
Resume bullet points to describe your job
Up to 5 bullet points outlining your verifiable achievements and responsibilities; Match your bullet points with employers’ requirements
Key achievement subsection
Highlight your most impressive win; Use the Problem-Action-Result method
Frequently Asked Questions about Resume Work Experience
How many years of work experience should go on a resume?
How far back your resume should go depends on how experienced you are:
- Senior-level candidates: list up to 15 years of relevant work experience.
- Junior- to mid-level candidates: include detailed job descriptions of positions in your field that match the requirements. You can also mention temporary gigs and internships on your resume to give it more weight, as well as freelancing experience.
- Entry-level candidates: describe experiences from all paid work you’ve ever done, including internships, part-time or temporary employment, and freelancing. Worked on something independently? Put those projects on your resume, too.
- Candidates with no professional work experience: include all paid and unpaid work experience: roles in student organizations, practicums, unpaid internships, and volunteer experience.
How to make a resume without work experience?
If you’ve just graduated or have little professional experience, move your education section ahead of the job descriptions. Under the name of your degree, add 1–3 resume bullet points focusing on relevant coursework, publications, and other prominent academic achievements for your resume to shine.
Choose a dedicated comprehensive guide for your particular case here:
- Resume Example for No Work Experience
- Resume Example for Entry-Levels
- Resume Example for Graduate Student
- Resume Writing 101: Advice for Any Job
Do employment gaps on a resume matter?
Employment gaps won’t hurt your resume if you’re honest about why you had them. Maybe you’re writing a resume for a career change, and the gap was used for studying, or maybe you experienced work-related burnout and decided to prioritize your mental health. Whatever the reason, don’t try to camouflage them for fear of them being a red flag for recruiters, as it might raise suspicion.
Should you include irrelevant work experience on a resume?
Don’t include irrelevant work experience on your resume, as it has nothing in common with the career you’re aiming to pursue. However, if you find features in the “unrelated” past job that match the currently desired position—do list it, tailoring your resume to the job ad. It's all about choosing the right words to describe yourself and including the fitting resume keywords.
For example, a candidate looking for a job in customer service could feature waitressing experience on their resume, as these two jobs have quite a lot in common and require strong customer service skills:
Pizza Hut, Newark, NJ
- Worked passionately in customer service in a high-volume restaurant.
- Completed the F.A.S.T. customer service training class.
- Maintained a high tip average thanks to consistent customer satisfaction.
Can you put volunteer work under work experience?
Yes, you can.
- If you don’t have an extensive professional background, you may include volunteering work experience in your Work Experience section.
- If you’ve currently got at least five years of paid work experience, add volunteer gigs as an additional section of your resume.
How to show promotion on a resume?
There are two ways to show promotion on your resume:
- If your job responsibilities for an old and new position were different, add each job title as a separate subheading followed by a list of bullet points.
- If your duties for the two positions were similar, stack your job titles and add one set of bullet points like this:
January 2012–January 2013
- This is where you mention the promotion,
- Your responsibilities,
- And key achievements.
How to measure job performance for jobs that are hard to quantify?
If you struggle to measure and present your work in exact figures, rely on the following strategies to quantify your accomplishments:
1. SCALE AND SCOPE
How many employees have you supervised? How large were the budgets you handled? All these things are important to employers, and you can come up with numbers to present them:
“Trained and mentored 10+ marketing interns to reach permanent junior marketing positions.”
How much work were you able to complete in a given time? How often did you perform certain tasks? These things can and should be quantified:
“Designed social media posts: 4 per week on Facebook, 6 per week on Instagram, and 1 per week on LinkedIn.”
Can’t figure out the exact number? Estimate. But remember that you’ll probably be asked about the reasoning behind your statement during a job interview, so make your calculations well-informed:
“Introduced new data security procedures, resulting in no data breaches for 29 weeks, saving $5,000–8,000 monthly.”
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Work experience is the experience an employee gains while working in a job, particular field or profession (for example, Four years of hands-on experience in online marketing). The work experience section on your resume is the thing that can make or break your chance of landing your dream job.
This is how to write your resume job descriptions step by step:
- Start with your current or most recent job.
- Follow it with the one before it, then the previous one, and so on.
- Include your job title, the company name, and the dates worked.
- Add up to 5 bullet points that summarize your achievements.
- Tailor your work experience section to the job opening—focus on your most relevant responsibilities and duties.
- Use action words and quantify whenever possible.
All check? Then you’re already well on your way to landing your dream job.
Got any more questions? Need further help crafting a stunning resume job description? Drop me a line in the comments. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!