Writing Description of Professional Experiences in Resume
A very major highlight of your resume is your past professional experiences. That is the one thing that hiring managers spend a considerable amount of time on.
Writing an impactful and powerful description of your past experiences can be very tricky. You need to present the work that you have done in a way that highlights your skills and capabilities.
The hiring manager does not want to know what work you did – that is pretty much clear from your job title and the field that you are working in. Additionally, the hiring managers are well aware of all kinds of job descriptions and they can easily guess what your role was or what responsibilities you held by looking at the job title. What you need to tell them is how well you performed in that role and how skillfully you carried out the responsibilities. List your achievements and if possible, quantify them. Numbers always do the trick.
How long should the experience section be?
The length of this section, very obviously, depends on the amount of experience you have. A very important factor is that the experience that you enlist should be relevant to the job position you are applying for. If the job title is not the same exactly, then you can filter out the skills that match between the two and present draft your description in a way that highlights the relevant skills.
If you are just starting out and don’t have any professional experience, you will have to enlist every paid and unpaid internship that you might have done, every college club that you were a part of, volunteer experience and so on. As a fresh candidate, it is advisable to put your ‘Experience’ section after your ‘Education’ section.
If you are in the middle of career and have a couple years of relevant experience, then include detailed job descriptions and also paid internships and any freelance gigs that you might have done.
If you are a senior level candidate that you can list upto no more than 15 years of relevant work experience.
Do gaps between jobs matter?
There can be numerous reasons for employment gaps. Sometimes these gaps are forced, for example, you were fired or laid off and it took you to time to find a new job. Sometimes people choose to take time off because of various reasons like raising a child, travelling or sometimes simply to take time off work.
Nowadays, hiring managers understand all of these reasons and do not really care about such gaps if you have the required expertise and experience. One important thing is to never lie in your resume. If you try to hide an employment gap, the hiring manager will see right through it because they do tend to verify your work history from multiple sources. Be honest about it and when asked in the interview, be prepared to explain the gap.
If the gap was only of a few months, then while writing the dates you can mention the years instead of mentioning the months. For example, instead of writing
Store Manager, XYZ Store (November, 2017 – Present)
Sales Associate, ABC Store (March, 2015 – January, 2017)
You can write,
Store Manager, XYZ Store (2017 – Present)
Sales Associate, ABC Store (2015 – 2017)
This way, the nine-month gap is not visible. However, despite this you should be prepared to answer questions related to the gap in your interview.
Use of Action Verbs
Hiring managers want to know what actions you can perform and what achievements you can bring in for their company. The best way to make the hiring managers see this is through using action verbs. Using strong, specific action words can help make your accomplishments seem even more impressive.
Choose the action verbs according to the role that you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a leadership role use words like – directed, coordinated, executed, chaired, enabled, coached and so on.
Here are some quick but important tips that you can use to make that description better –
- Appropriate Section heading – The section heading should stand out. Make it in all caps and bold, if required, to differentiate it from other sections.
- Get the position right – the placement of your ‘Experience’ section should be below the summary if you have a considerable amount of relevant experience and below the Academic section if you are a fresh candidate.
- Get the order right – the experience should be in a reverse chronological order i.e. start from the most latest experience and go further back in time.
- Consistent layout – what the layout is, that is of little consequence. However, it needs to be consistent. If you are starting with the company followed by the position that you held, then it should remain the same for every part. Similarly, if you are keeping the dates left aligned, make it the same for every part. Don’t make the hiring manager search and guess.
- Use bullet points – unless you are writing an academic CV, it is always better to use bullet points to describe your roles and responsibilities. Bullets help you be more concise and to-the-point.
- Quantify your achievements – numbers always do the trick. Quantifying gives the hiring manager a clearer picture of your achievements.
Now that you know how to carefully curate and tailor your ‘Experience’ section, go write the perfect resume and land that dream job of yours.