What Is Relevant Experience? Definition and Examples For Resumes

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 26, 2021 | Published December 7, 2020

Updated February 26, 2021

Published December 7, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employers look for candidates whose qualifications align with their criteria for a job position. Hiring managers use candidate resumes to survey their relevant skills and professional experiences that make them eligible for a job position. When applying for jobs, relevant experience allows you to enhance your qualifications regardless of your professional background. In this article, we define relevant experience, review key tips for identifying relevant experiences to include on your resume and list examples of relevant experiences to help you develop your own.

Related: Q&A: Years of Experience on a Resume

What is relevant experience?

Relevant experience is any professional work experience that makes you eligible for a specific job. When included on resumes, these relevant experiences help employers gain in-depth knowledge about what candidates could contribute to their company, even if they don't have experience within their industry.

Related: How To Write Work Experience On a Resume

Tips for identifying and incorporating relevant experience

There are several ways to ensure that your skills and previous job responsibilities align with the jobs you want to pursue. Here are tips on how to identify relevant experiences to add value to your targeted resume:

1. Review the job description

To identify potentially relevant experiences, you should start by looking at the original job description for the position you want to pursue. Highlight relevant skills, job responsibilities or education requirements or take the time to write them down for future comparisons. This causes you to think about your current eligibility for a job position and what you can offer to an employer.

2. Compare the job description to your current resume qualifications

Using the job description and your most current resume, compare and contrast your qualifications with those required by an employer. You can do this by creating a chart and writing the number of similarities and differences between what you have to offer and what the employer needs. By doing this, you can narrow down what items to emphasize on your resume to cater toward a particular job position.

3. Emphasize relevant experiences in the skills and professional sections

Your professional experiences and skills sections are the main areas where you can highlight your relevant experiences. Start by going through each section and crossing out any skill, responsibility or accomplishment that doesn't add value to the job in question.

Then, think of ways you could rephrase or alter each statement to better align with the skills and qualifications included in the job description. This allows you to tailor your resume to the specific job position and increases your chances of continuing your candidacy and potentially getting a job offer.

4. Focus on achievements and tasks rather than job titles

You may feel like the job titles you've held throughout your professional life are a deciding factor between whether you get hired or not. However, the responsibilities and achievements under each of these job titles are much more important when highlighting relevant experience on your resume. For example, you're a recent college graduate with little professional experience in the marketing industry. You want to pursue a job as a marketing coordinator, but you've only had a job as a camp counselor.

To demonstrate how your work as a camp counselor translates to a role as a marketing coordinator, you include responsibilities like "Speaking with parents to market different programs and persuade them to enroll their child in more than one program," or, "Successfully sold additional programs to increase child enrollment by 15%."

5. Revise your current skills and professional experiences to reflect job description criteria

Instead of leaving out certain professional experiences, skills or education, use them to your advantage to highlight relevant experiences you've acquired throughout your professional career. Keep job titles the same, but look for ways to rephrase responsibilities or accomplishments to reflect the job description. You should also review the necessary candidate skills and include the ones that honestly reflect your interpersonal and technical capabilities.

It's important to incorporate keywords and phrases from the job description throughout your resume as many employers use applicant tracking systems that select applications that include relevant keywords.

Related: How To Write a Targeted Resume: Tips and Examples

Examples of relevant experience

There are several different ways you can demonstrate your relevant experience on a resume, whether you have extensive professional experience or limited qualifications. Here are some examples of relevant work experiences to help you match your experiences to those of potential jobs opportunities:

Example 1: When you have limited professional experience

If you have limited professional experiences, you should be sure to emphasize your relevant qualifications in each responsibility under previous job titles. For example, after graduating from college, you have a variety of part-time jobs on your resume, but few that highlight your abilities to work as an accountant at an accounting firm. One of your jobs entailed working as a sales associate in a local retail shop. Your current resume lists the experience as follows:

Sales Associate
Gifts n' More
August 2016 - September 2019

Responsibilities:

  • Helped customers find products and learn more about them

  • Processed customer transactions and returns using a POS

  • Restocked items and taking inventory counts

  • Worked with a team of 10 sales associates to ensure a positive customer experience

The job description for the accountant position requires candidates to oversee financial transactions, investigate financial errors, balance financial statements and assist with tax preparation duties. Using these requirements here is one way to revise your current responsibilities to reflect accounting tasks:

Sales Associate
Book Emporium
August 2016 - September 2019

Responsibilities:

  • Processed customer transactions and returns using a POS

  • Reviewed invoices to determine order discrepancies like over or undercharges

  • Assisted the store owner in preparing tax documents for each employee

  • Counted the drawer at the beginning and end of each day and retrieving bills from the safe to match cash transaction needs

Example 2: When you have extensive professional experience in another area

If you have extensive professional experience or a career in another industry or niche specialty, you need to know how to revise your resume to show how you can transfer your knowledge from another career.

For instance, you've worked in the marketing industry for over five years and you now want to pursue a career in HR. You find an opening for an HR generalist and want to restructure your professional section to reflect that role. Your current professional experience is as follows:

Marketing Specialist
Reliance, Inc.
October 2018 - July 2019

Responsibilities:

  • Performed market research to determine new target audiences or campaign ideas

  • Worked closely with the marketing and sales teams to strategize about consumer needs

  • Monitored clients' social media profiles to engage with new, existing or prospective customers

  • Pulled data from ongoing campaigns to develop marketing reports for analysis

The job description for the HR generalist requires the candidate to develop unique job postings, perform recruitment duties and initial screening interviews and using HR software to maintain accurate employee information. Using these details here is how to revise the marketing job title responsibilities:

Marketing Specialist
Quest Marketing
October 2018 - July 2019

Responsibilities:

  • Reduced customer turnover rate by 20% by developing new marketing tactics

  • Crafted unique marketing copy to increase consumer engagement by 10%

  • Engaged with consumers through social media and other digital platforms

  • Used spreadsheet software to record data, schedule campaign details and create reports

Example 3: When you have professional experience in a relevant area

Even if you have relevant professional experience to qualify for a position, you still need to tailor your resume to each job you apply for. One example of this is if you had experience working as a customer service manager for one company and wanted to complete a lateral career move to achieve a customer service management position at another company. Here is how you currently display your customer service manager job on your resume:

Customer Service Manager
TeleCorp Solutions
December 2015 - May 2017

Responsibilities:

  • Hired, trained and oversaw a team of customer service representatives

  • Communicated with customers who had complex needs or questions

  • Emphasized the importance of customer service among department employees

  • Maintained in-depth knowledge of company products and services to best serve employee knowledge and customer satisfaction

The job description for the available customer service management position emphasizes a candidate's ability to develop customer service strategies, oversee a team of 15 customer service representatives and communicate with sales and product engineering teams on a daily basis. Here is a revised example using the job description details:

Customer Service Manager
Comm Sales
December 2015 - May 2017

Responsibilities:

  • Hired, trained and oversaw a team of 20 customer service representatives

  • Participated in meetings with the sales manager and product development manager to discuss recent customer complaints or additional feedback

  • Developed customer service guidelines for team members based on company goals and values

  • Created an employee incentive program that enhanced customer service efforts by 10%

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