Resumes & Cover Letters

Listing Professional Experience on Your Resume

November 23, 2020

The purpose of a resume is to quickly communicate your qualifications for a job. The professional experience or work history section is one of a few key sections employers will look at to determine whether or not you might be a good fit.

There are several ways you might choose to display your professional history depending on the job for which you’re applying and your level of experience. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to include your work history with tips and examples.

What employers look for in your experience section

Employers only have a few seconds to review your resume. During this time, they are looking to understand whether or not you meet the basic requirements of the position. This information is typically included in the job description they post. Depending on the job and your experience level, you might include this information in the skills section, work history section, education section or some combination of the three.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

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Listing work history by experience level

No matter your position or level of experience, you should always place the most relevant and important qualifications at the top of your resume. The way you list this information will vary based on your years of work:

If you're a senior-level candidate

If you're a senior-level candidate and applying for a similar position in a similar industry, you should include your work experience in reverse-chronological order at the top of your resume up to the last 10-15 years. Your rich, extensive experience in the field will be interesting to employers, so it should be highly visible.

If you have several years of experience but are changing careers or have gaps in your work history, consider a functional resume format.

For mid-level positions

For mid-level positions, focus on roles you've held that are relevant to the position for which you're applying. You might also decide to include positions like internships and freelancing work if they display any skills or experiences required for the job.

If you are an entry-level candidate

If you are an entry-level candidate, list all relevant, paid work you’ve done. This can include freelance jobs, temporary work, internships and independent projects for which you were paid.

If you don't have any work experience

If you don't have any work experience, you should include both paid and unpaid work. Unpaid work can include volunteering, work for student organizations and unpaid internships. Tie your experiences back to the position by using keywords from the job description. You might also consider listing your

Related: Writing a Resume With No Work Experience

How to write your professional experience section

While writing the work experience section of your resume, it's important that you are clear and concise. Employers often have mere seconds to review your resume, so prioritizing relevant information will make it easier for them to decide if you're right for the job. Here are steps to writing a good professional history section:

1. Review the job description

Highlight keywords that apply to your own skill set or professional qualities. This can include hard skills, soft skills, tasks you have experience with, level of education and more.

2. Consider two to three of your greatest achievements

With keywords from the job description in mind, think of a few of the most impactful contributions you made in each of the roles you held. Employers are more interested in the value you have demonstrated than the tasks or job duties you were responsible for.

3. Measure your impact with numbers

When possible, include numbers that measure the exact value you were able to provide to your organization. There are at least three different ways to measure your work:

  • People—did you lead a group or make it possible for a task to be done by fewer people?
  • Time—did you speed up processes or achieve a result quickly? How quickly?
  • Money—did your work lead to sales, revenue or cost savings?

Professional experience format guide

After you’ve decided on your most impactful experiences, you should list them on your resume in an easy-to-read format. Include the name of the employer, your job title, years of employment, and a few bullet points with your strongest, most relevant accomplishments. Here’s a step-by-step guide for listing professional experience on your resume:

1. Label the section

Include a clear heading for this subsection such as "work experience" or "career history." You might decide to add light formatting such as bolding or underlining it to increase scannability.

2. Include details about each experience

List the company name, your job title and the timeframe in which you held the role. If you changed roles or earned a promotion, there are certain ways you can also include this information.

3. Use reverse-chronological order

List your most recent job experience first, then the job before that and so on.

4. Include relevant achievements

Under every job description, you should have three to four bullet points describing your most impressive achievements in that position. The description for your most recent job should be the most detailed.

Professional experience section examples

Here are a few work history examples for various job titles using the above tips. Use these for inspiration as you write your resume:

Example 1: Warehouse supervisor

River Tech
Warehouse associate | Dec. 2013—June 2017

  • Separated, labeled and verified count of incoming deliveries, contributing to a 15% decrease in counting errors
  • Created dynamic inventory system that ensured product levels supported demand without overstocking
  • Responsible for the construction of sturdy, balanced pallet loads for shipping
  • Developed backup training on computerized inventory system resulting in 25% decrease in onboarding time

Example 2: School counselor

Clearwater Junior High
Assistant counselor | Jan. 2015—Dec. 2018

  • Developed comprehensive guidance and counseling programs in collaboration with faculty and staff for 1,200+ students
  • Conducted career awareness sessions and meet individually with parents and students to explore education options based on career goals
  • Pioneered and coordinated Career & College Day, introducing 800 students and parents to 60 universities, colleges, and companies

Example 3: Restaurant manager

The Salt Brine
Head restaurant manager | June 2013—Dec. 2018

  • Performed 25 store audits in compliance with safety and sanitation regulations to ensure the quickest and most effective modes of service
  • Developed training program for 400 employees in compliance with company and government requirements, reducing training time by 10%
  • Performed review of scheduling for three departments and reduced labor needs by 5%

Tips for listing your professional experience

Here are a few additional tips to make your work history section stronger:

1. Along with using numbers, lead each bullet point with strong action verbs

This will help employers better understand your impact and make your experiences stand out.

For example, instead of saying, “Answers customer complaints and effectively deescalates altercations over the phone," you may write, “Resolves customer complaints and effectively deescalates altercations over the phone resulting in customer satisfaction improvement of 17%.

2. Add the most detail for the most recent job

In general, you want to have the most detail for your most recent job and can give a less detailed description of older jobs.

3. Make every entry concise

List and measure your impact in a way that employers can quickly understand by removing extra words or “fluff.”