Writing about ourselves and our work can be challenging even for those who have done it hundreds of times already and when you’re feeling stuck it is easy to give up and miss out on your dream job. To show that you’re right for the job you need to make sure to highlight all relevant jobs and achievements that you have had in your work experience. To make it a bit easier, here are seven steps you can take to successfully write your resume work experience without struggling.
1. Include all jobs
You may be thinking that it doesn’t make sense to show you worked as a barista at the local cafe when you’re applying to a job in Human Resources, but the truth is that employers often like to see diversity in interests and that you are keen on working. That means that the more jobs you have on your CV – the better. However, that doesn’t mean that you should write half a page about your experience at your local coffee shop – keep it minimal. If you’ve had a lot of similar jobs at the same time period, then you can perhaps even group them together under the same graph to minimize some space. It’s important to keep it simple as employers aren’t very keen on reading long paragraphs about things they don’t find relevant.
2. Showcase what’s important
Including all jobs might be a good idea but it is important to emphasize the work experience that is actually relevant to the job you want to apply for. Leave a bit of space for everything else and write a bit more about your experience on the relevant jobs. What did you do there? What did you learn? What skills did you develop?
If you are applying for a job working for a sales company but you have no similar experience, then you can still use certain skills from working in your local coffee shop. You dealt with customers every single day which means that you have developed skills in customer service and you know how to deal with certain issues related to that. It may not be directly related to your current job but it is a good idea to mention it.
You could have also taken some relevant courses online – don’t forget to mention those. Employers will appreciate the extra effort you have taken to become better at what you want to do so don’t forget to showcase it. Even if the courses aren’t exactly on subject, they will see that you’re a person who likes to learn which can also be seen as a big plus.
3. Explain things that raise questions
If you took a year off to do something and have a big gap on your work history then you might want to explain what the reason for that is. Steven Wright had spent a year been knocking the doors of the office of Pick Writers, one of the top translation companies. Having finally landed the job, he puts it this way: “No matter what you did, it is better to put it in there then let your potential employer make his or her own conclusion about your gaps.”
4. Don’t lie
This may seem obvious but most people are guilty of doing it – especially when you’re new to the field with no relevant experience. Lying on your resume can seem like a good idea. It can’t hurt in any way; it is fairly innocent unless the job is something that requires a very serious skill such as being a doctor. However, if your employer finds out you lied you will lose all chances of ever getting a job there and any place that finds out about your little white lie. So, don’t take the chance, no matter how little experience you have.
5. Set the facts straight
Apart from not lying about work experience you need to also make sure to set all the facts straight. That means that you should have the correct dates of when you started and ended a certain job. If two of your job overlaps in an unlikely way, then the employer could think that you are lying. Apart from timing, you should also try to be honest about what your responsibilities and actual title at the place of employment were. Sometimes little facts can say a lot about your experience.
Apart from making sure the work experience facts are correct, don’t forget to also double check facts about your birth date and school history. You don’t want to end up looking like a liar even if your mistake was actually innocent.
6. Do some research before
In order to make sure that you’re listing all the right skills, a good idea is to research everything you can about the job you’re applying for and the establishment or company at hand. What are their values and what do they expect from you? Then, when you have your data, you can try to emphasize the skills you have learned from your previous jobs that are exactly related to what they’re looking for and earn some extra points.
Apart from doing research, don’t forget to also make sure that you didn’t leave any typos. Nothing looks worse on a resume than a word that was spelled wrong or one that is missing entirely. It makes the whole resume look unprofessional and it makes you look like that as well.
7. Don’t forget about volunteer work
While anyone could have done volunteer work, it is definitely worth mentioning in the work experience section. It shows that you are the kind of person who is willing to do extra work and maybe even actually wants to do a bit more than others. People are often impressed with volunteer work because those who do it seem more motivated than those who have never done it in their life. Even if the volunteer work isn’t related to the job at hand, it still looks good on a resume and it is definitely worth mentioning. Nowadays a positive energy at the workplace, as well as group work are skills that are highly valued and volunteering often shows that you are able to work with others well and don’t mind doing it even when it gets difficult.
Those tips may not guarantee you your dream job but they will hopefully help you avoid some of the common mistakes that we have all made when writing the work experience section of our resumes.
Kristin Savage has graduated from Columbia University where she was majoring in Germanic Languages. Besides English as her mother tongue she also speaks German and Dutch fluently. Currently Kristin is studying Spanish and planning to obtain her PhD in Applied Linguistics since she is interested in how to use her to some extent practical knowledge of language processes in everyday life. You can find her on Facebook and Medium.