A well-written resume job description can offer hiring managers important indications regarding the type of employee you are and the potential value you can bring to an organization. Regardless of your qualifications, showing that you have a history of using your knowledge and skills for other companies should increase your odds of being considered for the position. Your previous achievements can be adequately described by following some simple guidelines. In this article, we review the necessary steps in writing resume job descriptions.
What is a resume job description?
A resume job description section is the part of your resume where you list your previous jobs, projects, volunteer work and other relevant professional experiences. The goal of the work history section on your resume should be to show the hiring manager that you have the skills and experience to fulfill your work responsibilities successfully. This implies focusing on your accomplishments, such as the official job description or details on the company.
By identifying your previous achievements, you can give your potential employer confidence that you possess the necessary skills to perform your tasks successfully.
Read more: Listing Professional Experience on a Resume
How to describe work experience in a resume
Consider these steps when adding a previous work experience section to your resume:
- Add a job description to the top half of the first page on your resume.
- Include a suitable amount of relevant experiences.
- Begin each description with essential information about the job and company.
- Emphasize accomplishments over work duties.
- Use action-benefit statements to describe your achievements.
- Quantify your achievements.
- Be honest.
- Tailor your content to the position.
- Make it easily readable.
1. Add a job description to the top half of the first page on your resume
Many hiring managers see the potential employee’s description of previous work experiences as the primary source of possible indications that they have the necessary skills to succeed. For this reason, this section should be easily accessible, as it is typically the first place hiring managers look in a resume. Consider adding this section before others like “skills” or “education” to ensure the person reading your resume sees exactly why you are qualified.
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
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)
2. Include a suitable amount of relevant experiences
The number of previous work experiences listed on your resume should depend on where you are on your career path. Follow these guidelines to determine how much work experience you should add to your resume, based on your history:
- Candidates with no work experience: Add descriptions of any potentially relevant experiences, such as unpaid internships, part-time projects, volunteer work or roles in student organizations. Include up to four or five roles to keep it concise and relevant.
- Entry-level candidates: These professionals are typically one to five years into their employment history. List all previous paid work, especially for relevant roles. Include up to four or five roles to keep it concise. Consider adding volunteer or internship roles if paid work experience is fewer than four roles.
- Junior and mid-level candidates: These professionals are typically five to 10 years into their career history, depending on their industry. Add descriptions of relevant jobs, internships, temporary positions and freelancing work. Include four or five roles.
- Senior candidates: These professionals usually have 10 to 15 years of relevant work experience that is relevant to the job for which they are applying. Include all significant professional roles, especially those that show a clear advancement in your career.
3. Begin each description with essential information about the job and company
Each previous professional experience you describe should contain the official job title, the name and address of the company and the time period in which you worked there. Experiences should also be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most current experience being the first on the list to demonstrate where you are in your career today.
To be comprehensive, each listed position should contain the following information:
- Job title
- Company name
- City and state—or country, if international
- The employment time interval
- Description of the company and your role
- Your main achievements and accomplishments
4. Emphasize accomplishments over work duties
When discussing previous work experiences, you should describe your accomplishments while outlining your work duties and responsibilities. This will showcase your role and the value you brought to the company, providing proof that you can be an asset to an organization.
5. Use action-benefit statements to describe your achievements
An effective way of describing your previous achievements is by using action-benefit statements. This involves specifically describing an action you took when faced with a challenge and the positive result, such as a sales increase, cost reduction, faster product delivery or another action of value.
A good strategy when it comes to action-benefit statements is to start with the outcome. By formulating the sentence in a way that puts the result first and the steps you took to get there afterward, the hiring manager will be more likely to remember the outcome.
6. Quantify your achievements
Be specific when outlining your accomplishments and include as many measurable results—such as numbers and statistics—as possible. This strategy allows you to show that you are objective in your self-assessment and you have the figures to back up your statements.
7. Be honest
Experienced hiring managers can usually tell whether or not a previous job experience description is written truthfully. Being honest and open about your past jobs, while also doing your best to emphasize achievements, is the best strategy to maximize your odds of being selected for an interview.
8. Tailor your content to the position
When describing your previous work experiences, it’s best to select the most relevant roles and describe your accomplishments based on the job description for which you’re currently applying. Determining what is relevant and what is not greatly depends on what the potential employers are looking for. Use the job description to find what their needs are and what they are expecting from a future employee in this role. A well-written job description section that is also tailored for the job you are applying for has the potential of setting you apart from other applicants with similar qualifications.
9. Make it easily readable
The main two ways of showcasing your work responsibilities and achievements are either through the use of bullet points or by using a narrative style. The former can potentially minimize the importance of your accomplishments, and the latter can be hard to read, so the best approach is usually a mix of the two. A brief paragraph in which you describe your responsibilities, followed by a few bullet points outlining your achievements, is often an effective approach.
Work experience description example
This example is for a senior sales position. Use it as a guide when applying the steps outlined above to create an effective job description section on your resume:
*Sales Manager, Green Oaks Apartment Complex, San Antonio, Texas*
My role involves coordinating all sales representatives, developing sales strategies and making sure the organization meets its quarterly and annual sales goals.
Increased sales by an average of 12% each year by continually developing ways of reaching new potential customers
Reduced employee turnover by 23% by implementing new training techniques and creating a motivating bonus structure
*Sales Representative, Green Oaks Apartment Complex, San Antonio, Texas*
June 2009–September 2016
My role was to conduct the sales process according to the organization’s strategies and procedures. This implied advertising the properties that were up for sale, presenting them to potential customers and finalizing the sales process.
Reached 96% of quarterly sales targets throughout my employment with constant promotion and professional property presentations
Trained a total of 36 junior sales representatives, with 21 of them still currently employed by the organization
Boosted sales by 9% by editing and revising work procedures with management
*Junior Sales Representative, Rose Residential Project, Tyler, Texas*
October 2005–June 2009
As a junior sales representative, my role was to promote the residential project through all available channels, such as calling potential customers and advertising online.
Increased the number of prospects by an average of 25% each year through constant marketing and cold calling
Helped grow the prospect conversion rate from 2.5% to 4.5% during four-year tenure by consistently providing more relevant information before viewings