9 tips to improve the work experience section of your resume

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

This is Part 3 of a series of posts on the basics of improving your resume.

The work experience section is the most important part of your resume. Many employers feel that past performance is a strong best indicator of future performance, and this section is what recruiters use to gauge whether you may be a good fit for the role you are applying for.

Several other people may be applying for the same job as you, so anything you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd is beneficial. But remember that the work experience section should be full of your achievements and accomplishments, NOT copy-pasted job descriptions.

Let’s use Nivedita’s resume as an example. She has used the job description from her company’s website to structure the work experience section of her resume:

Next, consider some of the ways in which you can make a work experience section more impactful:

  1. Clearly state the company you worked for, their location, and your position there. Use formatting elements like bolding and italics to draw attention to these important details.

  2. Write in past tense for any job activities that happened in the past. Nivedita worked at American Express in 2010, so it is inaccurate to say that she is still “managing” or “identifying” today.

  3. Start each bullet with an action-oriented word. Use words like: led, supported, established, or collaborated. These are stronger choices than “managing” and “identifying.” Here is a list of action-oriented words you can choose from.

  4. Add metrics (numbers) wherever possible to help quantify your achievements.

  5. Bullets should be ordered from highest to lowest importance.

  6. Avoid using unnecessary jargon, abbreviations, and shortforms. For example, instead of “ARR”, write out “annual recurring revenue.”

  7. Avoid including jobs you held for less than six months. Longer-term positions demonstrate commitment and make a better impression on employers.

  8. Allocate more space to recent jobs and jobs you held for a long time.

  9. Use standard bullets, such as the round bullet in Microsoft Word. Do not use arrows, dashes, or numbered lists.

Using these tips, Nivedita can rewrite her job description:

This version is much more impactful than the previous one. Nivedita’s employer and job title stand out clearly. Each of her points is formatted with a round bullet and starts with an action-oriented word. She also added metrics, which help employers assess her responsibilities and ability to meet targets. And, most importantly, each bullet point is now a description of one of Nivedita’s accomplishments rather than just a copy-pasted requirement from a job description.

Nice job, Nivedita!

*Share your questions and comments below!*

View our previous posts in this series:

1 - Improve your resume: Contact information

2 - 7 ways to improve the education section of your resume

3 - 9 tips to improve the work experience section of your resume

4 - Should I add a summary or skills to my resume?

5 - Optional sections on your resume

6 - Finishing touches on a resume

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