What should go first in a resume: education or experience? How to write your education on a resume? Read our tips and examples, and write a perfect resume.
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The work experience section of your resume is the most crucial component of your job application.
Want your resume to stand out from hundreds of candidates? You’ll need to give a stand-out answer to “Why should we hire you?”. In other words, prove how well you handled it instead of showing what kind of work you did.
Want your resume to land you interviews? Personalize every job description to match the requirements of the vacancy you’re applying for. Sounds difficult? There’s a step-by-step formula to do it in no time.
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.
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?
Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.
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.
Grab this helpful table of contents to navigate through:
How to Describe Work Experience on a Resume
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions about Resume Work Experience
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 work experience section the most vital.
This means you need to organize your resume so that this 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 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 work history.
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 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 pointearns 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 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 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
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
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.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
Frequently Asked Questions about Resume Work Experience
1. How Many Years of Work Experience Should Go on a Resume?
How far back your resume should go 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
List and describe experiences from all paid work you’ve ever done, including internships, part-time or temporary work, 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
2. How to Make a Resume Without Work Experience?
Your work experience section is not the only thing that matters on your resume. If you’ve just graduated or have very little professional experience, put your resume job descriptions below your education section. This will help you put your best foot forward. Focus on important but relevant coursework, publications, or relevant academic achievements on your resume.
Also, make use of our dedicated comprehensive guides to write a job-winning resume:
- First Resume With No Work Experience
- Resume Example for Graduate Student
- Resume Writing 101: Advice for Any Job
- 99+ Resume Examples For All Professions
3. Employment Gaps on Resume—Do They Matter?
You might have been told that employment gaps are always “red flags” for recruiters, or that you should try to 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.
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.
Just be honest with your justification—maybe what you’re writing is actually a resume for a career change, and the gap was used for studying? Don’t be afraid to reveal that.
4. Should I Include Irrelevant Work Experience on a Resume?
What if, at some point in your life, you’ve had a job that had literally nothing in common with the career you’re aiming to pursue now?
If you can find features in the “unrelated” past job that match the currently desired position—do list it. It's all about choosing the right words to describe yourself.
Remember the candidate from our example above? She’s looking for a job in customer service, but at the beginning of her professional career she worked as a waitress for 4 years. Even though they’re not the same, these two jobs have a lot in common.
That’s why our candidate included that job in her resume and listed only duties and achievements relevant to the customer service position in the job description.
Have a look at a 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.
5. Can I Put Volunteer Work Under Work Experience
- If you’ve currently 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 an extensive work history to showcase on a resume? Include volunteering in your main experience section.
6. How to Show Promotion on Resume
If you’ve been promoted or held multiple positions within the same company, how do you show the promotion on your resume?
Well, 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:
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.
7. How to Measure Job Performance for Jobs That Are Harder to Quantify?
“That looks great and all, but I just don’t work with hard numbers that much.” You do! 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 handled? All these things are super important to employers. And you can use numbers to better present them. See this example from a marketing manager resume:
- 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? These things can and should be quantified. Have a look at another sample taken from a customer service resume work experience section:
- 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. It will grab attention. But keep in mind that you’ll probably be asked about the reasoning behind your statement during a job interview, so don’t hazard some wild guesses. Make your estimates 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!