Writing your resume’s work experience section can be the most overwhelming part of learning how to write a resume, especially if you are just launching your career.
How should you format that section? How can you incorporate summer jobs and internships in a way that makes sense? And how to do you make your skills shine?
We’ve compiled seven tips for writing your resume work experience section that will help you present your accomplishments in a way that will catch the eye of hiring managers and recruiter and help you get the job you want.
- Gather all of your information
Before you sit down to write, take the time to create a master list of the information you plan to include. Double-check the names and locations of the companies you’ve worked for or held internships with. Back track to make sure your dates of employment are correct. Having this information at your fingertips will make it easier to get started when you are ready to write.
- Create a list of quantifiable achievements
What are you most proud of in your professional life? Or, if you are new to the workforce and have little to no direct work experience, ask yourself what your proudest moments were in your academic career, on sports teams, or while doing volunteer work.
As often as possible, gather metrics when thinking about achievements. Being able to qualify your skillset with numbers is a surefire way to catch the eye of a hiring manager. So, for example, did you have the best sales record at your summer job working retail? Note the numbers involved if so!
Even achievements that aren’t directly work-related are useable when you are writing an entry-level resume. So, while you may never have had a job, did you lead your team to the state championships as team captain? Or did you sell the most Girl Scout cookies of any member of your troop? These triumphs are worth noting in your resume work experience section.
- Think about transferable skills
Taking the examples above, think about how your skills could transfer to the requirements outlined in the job ad. For example, if you are applying for a customer service role, your experience working in retail should be highlighted. Or, if you are applying for an office manager role, your leadership skills honed on the basketball court would likely come in handy.
List these skills in both the skills section and in the resume work experience section of your resume, and customize your resume slightly for each job to which you apply. Up to 90 percent of companies currently use some form of applicant tracking system to weed out unqualified candidates. In order to make it into the interview chair, you should highlight the specific skills outlines in the job ad.
- Use reverse-chronological order
Write your resume work experience section backwards, starting with your current or most recent role. This allows recruiters to see how you’ve developed professionally over the course of your career. If you only have one or two entries, don’t fret. You aren’t expected to have a lengthy work history when applying for entry-level roles.
For each entry in your resume work experience section, limit your descriptions of job responsibilities and achievements to 5-8 bullet points. Bullet points allow recruiters to quickly scan your resume and see that you possess the skills they desire.
- Less is more when it comes to design
Your resume should never contain a photo or graphics, as these can confuse applicant tracking systems. You should also stick to easy-to-read fonts, so skip the Comic Sans and use a font like Times New Roman instead.
Finally, use a resume design that is industry appropriate. If you are applying for work in a conservative industry, like law, you should be using a conservative resume design. For creative industries, like advertising, using a design with a bit more color or flair is permissible.
- Proofread your document
Once you’ve got it all down on paper, double and triple check that there are no typos or grammatical errors. One study found that 58 percent of recruiters reject candidates whose resumes contain these types of errors. After you’ve reviewed it yourself, send it to a trusted friend to read with a fresh set of eyes, or use an online tool like Grammarly to check for mistakes.
- Use a professional resume builder
Still confused about how to build your resume work experience section? Using a professional resume builder can help. A builder can suggest language to use in your resume, as well as skills to add; builders also have built-in tools to check for spelling and grammar errors.