The work experience section of your resume—the part where you describe your past jobs—is the most crucial component of your whole job application.
I mean it.
When employers ask for a resume, they’re basically asking about your work history and nothing else.
Recruiters and hiring managers know what you did in general. Your job title more or less sums that up.
If you want to stand out from hundreds of other candidates, you need to highlight your achievements, not just outline your duties and responsibilities.
In other words—instead of showing what kind of work you did, prove how well you handled it.
Plus, if you want your resume to land you an interview almost every time you send it, you need to personalize every job description to match the requirements of the vacancy you’re applying for.
Sound difficult and time-consuming?
Don’t worry. There’s an easy, step-by-step formula to do it in no time.
This guide will show you:
- How to write a resume job description better than 9 out of 10 others.
- Sample resume job descriptions you can adjust and use today.
- The best template and format for listing your work history on a resume.
- How to describe your work experience to highlight your achievements.
- The easiest way to make your resume work experience section match the job offer.
Ready? Have a look at this sample resume work experience section for a customer service position made with our resume builder. What do you think makes it so special?
Work Experience on a Resume—Job Description Sample
Sample resume work experience section made with our resume builder.
Did our example seem intimidating? Think you’ve got no relevant experience to show off yet? We’ve got you covered. See this guide and learn all you need to know about writing a resume without work experience: First Resume with No Work Experience: Sample and Step-By-Step Guide
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.
Table of contents:
- How Far Back Should Your Resume Work Experience Section Go?
- The Only Proper Template for Your Resume Job Description
- Resume Bullet Points—How to Make Each One a Killer
How Far Back Should Your Resume Work Experience Section Go?
Let’s start with the some very important basics.
How many jobs to list on a resume?
That depends on how experienced you are. Have a look:
How much work experience to put on a resume?
List up to 15 years of relevant work experience
Junior- to mid-level candidates
Include detailed job descriptions of relevant positions in your field and a brief mention of other positions: internships, temporary gigs, freelancing
List and describe all paid work you’ve ever done, including internships, part-time or temporary work, freelancing, independent projects
Candidates with no professional work experience
Include all paid and unpaid work experience: roles in student organizations, practicums, unpaid internships, volunteer experience
Pro Tip: If you’ve just graduated or if you have very little professional experience, put your resume job descriptions below your education section. This will help you put your best foot forward.
You’ve probably noticed I stressed the word relevant.
Here’s what I mean by that—
Remember the candidate from our example above? She’s looking for a job in customer service, so she put descriptions of her past customer service positions on her resume. A no brainer, isn’t it?
At the beginning of her professional career, she worked as a waitress for 4 years.
Now, a “customer service representative” is obviously not the same as a “waitress.” And yet, these two jobs have a lot in common.
That’s why our candidate included her waiting job and, in the job description, listed only duties and achievements relevant to the customer service position she’s trying to land.
Have a look:
Work Experience on a Resume—Sample Entry for a Customer Service Rep
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.
For more expert tips on how to write resume job descriptions of positions outside your current field, see our handy guide: Resume for Career Changers: All You Need to Know
Alright, but what if, at some point of your life, you’ve had a job that had literally nothing in common with the career you’re aiming to pursue now?
Or what if you had a three-year employment gap right after graduation?
Gaps and Flaws in Your Resume Work Experience Section—Do They Matter?
This 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.
Long story short—
You might have been told that employment gaps are always “red flags” for recruiters or that you should try and camouflage them in the work experience on your resume.
It’s not true. Especially after the 2010s rise in unemployment, employers realize that it takes more time to find a perfect match between a job seeker and an organization than it used to 20 years ago.
If you’ve got career gaps, check out our guide on How to Explain Gaps in Employment in a Resume/Cover Letter/Interview
One final thing to keep in mind before starting to write your killer resume job descriptions?
Can you put volunteer work under work experience?
- If you’ve got at least 5 years of paid work experience, omit job descriptions of your volunteer gigs. You can add them in an additional section of your resume.
- Don’t have extensive work history to showcase on a resume? Include volunteering in your main experience section.
On the fence about what to include in the employment history on your resume? Don’t know exactly how long and how detailed should your resume be? Double-check with our guide: How Long Should My Resume Be? Ideal Resume Length for 2018
The Only Proper Template for Your Resume Job Description
I can’t stress that enough—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 work experience section the most vital.
You need to make it easy for them to spot this section within a split second and grasp your value immediately.
Here’s how to list work experience on a resume step by step:
Make the section heading stand out
Label your 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.
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 work history.
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.
Listing your jobs in chronologically descending is the cornerstone of the classic reverse-chronological resume format. It’s ideal for most job seekers, with very few exceptions. Double-check if it’s right for you with our handy guide: 3 Resume Formats: Pick the Right One for You
Make Each 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.
If you’ve been promoted or held multiple positions with the same company, you don’t necessarily have to create separate entries for each position.
If your duties for these two positions were similar, stack your job titles and add one set of bullet points. Like this:
Sample Resume Job Description With Promotions
January 2012 - Present
January 2013 - Present
January 2012 - January 2013
- Mention Promotion
Were your duties vastly different? Add each title as a separate subheading followed by a list of bullet points.
For more great tips about showing your promotions in your resume work experience section, give this guide a read: How to Show Promotions & Multiple Positions on Your Resume
Use up to 5 job description bullets for each job
- In each bullet point, try to focus on your quantifiable achievements, not just duties and responsibilities.
- 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 and add only the most relevant duties and achievements.
- Don’t write about every task you’ve performed. Make each resume bullet point earn its place. Customize or tailor 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 job description for a resume:
Black Knight Financial Services, Jacksonsville, 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.
Key achievement: Developed a test automation(4) tool that reduced testing time by 55%.
The candidate didn’t cram his work experience section with all his previous duties. Instead, he listed only those that show he’ll handle his prospective responsibilities with ease.
Pro Tip: Resume: 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.
In your each of your resume bullet points, relevance is key. Research has shown that almost 40% of recruiters automatically dismiss resumes that are generic and not tailored the position.
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
But that’s not all—
Have another look at the example above. There’s this one part that stands out like Wonder Woman in a neon A-Line skirt. For the finishing touch on your resume job description...
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 job description above?
Key achievement: 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.
Having 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
Before we move on, here’s a quick recap of how to list jobs 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 resume summary 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
And here's some good news—
Our resume builder (you can create your resume here) will give you tips and examples on how to write your resume work experience section. Or any section for that matter. You can copy the examples to your resume, customize, and save a lot of time.
Inside our resume builder, you will find expert tips and examples for your resume.
Alright. You’ve learned the basics.
Time to take your resume writing to the next level and learn how you can make the most of every single resume bullet point you fire.
Resume Bullet Points—How to Make Each One a Killer
Most job seekers spray their resumes with randomly shot resume bullets that are bound to miss the target.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever phrased your resume bullet points like this, you’ve probably squandered the chance for landing an interview many a time.
Don’t let that chance slip ever again.
How to write resume bullet points?
- Start with an action verb.
- Follow it with a description of a specific duty.
- Make a quantifiable point highlighting your achievement.
Now, let’s break down the three key steps to firing explosive resume bullets with sniper’s precision.
Use action verbs
Begin each resume bullet point with a verb in active voice. Don’t say you were “responsible for doing this and that.” Say that you “did” it. Simple as that.
See these sample bullet points from a project manager resume job description:
Resume Job Description Bullet Points—Examples
|Responsible for managing Lean Training project to improve quality, and decrease costs.|
Managed the highly successful Lean Training project for three years. Improved quality by 32%, cut lead times 21%, cut costs 48%.
The difference is clear, right?
For recruiters, the right example would work like a triple espresso shot. The wrong one would just make them go “YAWN!”
Pro Tip: Use the past tense (“managed,” developed,” “supervised”) for descriptions of your past jobs. For your current job description, stick to present tense.
For more ideas on how to use powerful words and phrases on your resume, see this handy list: 240 Best Action Words and Powerful Verbs for Your Resume
Use the Problem-Action-Result method for each resume bullet
Remember the PAR formula from the “Key achievement” subsection?
You can use it in every bullet point.
Have a look.
Sample Resume Job Description Bullets
- 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.
Pro Tip: Do you put periods after bullet points on a resume? Yes. Resume bullet points are sentences. You should end them with a full stop.
You get the drill, right? Now, for the final bullet point strategy you need to learn—
Quantify whenever possible
Which of these resume job descriptions would you more likely believe?
Resume Job Description Bullet Points—Examples
|Significantly increased online sales.|
Redesigned the e-commerce sales funnel through A/B testing, resulting in increasing monthly revenue by 112%.
A startling contrast, isn’t it?
Any numbers that help estimate the impact of your work have to appear in your resume job description bullets.
I know what some of you are thinking.
“That looks great and all, but I just don’t work with hard numbers that much.”
More than you think. Even if you can’t give exact figures to describe your work, you can rely on one of the following ways to quantify your accomplishments:
How many people were on your team? How many employees have you supervised? How large were the budgets you’ve handled?
All these things are super important to employers. And you can use numbers to better present them.
(Making money for your organization matters. But it’s not the only quantifiable metric you should mention.)
See this example from a marketing manager resume.
Sample Resume Bullet Points—Job Description
- Collaborated with business development and sales teams (18 colleagues in total) to ensure company-wide branding consistency for our clients.
- Trained and mentored 10+ marketing interns to reach permanent junior marketing positions.
- Supervised all creative and technical aspects of national marketing campaigns with budgets over $300,000.
How much work were you able to complete in a given period of time? How often did you perform certain tasks?
Again, these things can and should be quantified.
Have a look at another sample taken from a customer service resume work experience section.
Customer Service Officer Resume Job Description Bullet Points
- Resolved 150+ user tickets weekly.
- Designed social media posts: 4 per week on Facebook, 6 per week on Instagram, 1 per week on LinkedIn.
- Coordinated the daily newsletter sent out to our 50.000+ subscribers.
Can’t figure out the exact number? Estimate.
Sample Resume Job Description Bullet Point
Introduced new data security procedures, resulting in no data breaches for 29 weeks, saving $5.000–8.000 monthly.
It will grab attention.
But keep in mind that you’ll probably be asked about the reasoning behind your estimate during a job interview so don’t hazard some wild guesses. Make your estimates well-informed.
Pro Tip: Do your best to fit every resume bullet into a single line. Can’t always do that? It’s fine. But consider moving bullets that spill over to the bottom of your job description.
And there you have it. All you need to know to make a stunning resume job description.
Your work experience section is not the only thing that matters on your resume. Learn all other tricks of writing a job-winning resume from our comprehensive guide: How to Make a Perfect Resume For Any Job
Want to see more examples of resume job descriptions and bullet points for your profession? Find a dedicated guide that will answer all your questions here: 99+ Resume Examples For All Professions
The work experience section on your resume is the thing that can make or break your chance of landing your dream job.
Your resume experience bullets are your ammo, but you need to be a sniper rather than spray the employer from an Uzi and hope for the best.
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 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? Want to chat about writing your resume? That’s great cause I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll get back to you double-quick.