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Well-written job descriptions in your resume work experience section is what recruiters crave—
This is critical: employers ask for resumes to review your work history.
Maybe you’re the most qualified candidate for this position. But—
You still might fail to land the job if your resume work experience section isn’t top-notch.
Here’s how to make sure they like what they see.
This guide will show you:
- Sample job descriptions for a resume that you can copy, adjust, and use today.
- Research-backed strategies to dramatically improve the performance of your resume work experience section.
- How to describe your work experience better than 9 out of 10 other candidates even if you barely have professional experience at all.
What does a perfect resume job description look like? See below—
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To begin with, meet Amelia—
She’s applying for the position of Head of Digital Marketing at a major financial institution, XYZ Company. Below, you’ll see her sample resume work experience section.
Sample Resume Job Description—Work Experience
Digital Marketing Manager
Acme Corp, NYC, NY
- Supervised a team of 9 employees in all technical and creative aspects of digital advertising campaigns with budgets over $300,000.
- Enhanced open rates of transactional email campaigns by 38%. Boosted the click-through rate by 44%.
- Trained 3 online marketing interns to reach permanent, full-time junior positions.
- Devised a new system of internal feedback and quarterly reviews to raise employee satisfaction by 30%.
Most relevant accomplishment: Grew the company blog from 0 to 700,000 organic users per year in 14 months.
Pfitzer, Newark, NJ
- Spearheaded all stages of collaboration with external digital marketing agencies.
- Received the company-wide Annual Innovation Award for integrating Virtual Reality technology with sales representatives’ promotional materials in
- Led sales team of 42 regional sales reps to exceed sales targets by over 10% each year.
Most relevant accomplishment: Supervised the design of 2 flagship product websites increasing online sales by 231% in 6 months.
Freelance Online Marketing Consultant
Self-employed, NYC, NY
- Consulted and assisted 9 clients with their online marketing challenges.
- Grew a Facebook fan page for a local tech startup from 0 to 25,000 fans in 4 months.
- Designed graphics and contents for social media posts: 20 per week on Facebook, 30 per week on Instagram, 1 per week on LinkedIn.
Wow, right? Amelia can sit back, relax, and wait for her interview invitation.
Don’t have work experience at all and feel at a loss as to what you should write? Fret not. See: Complete Guide to Writing the First Resume with No Work Experience
Think it’s hard to write an equally professional work experience section for on your resume?
Nope. It’s easy. All boils down to three key strategies. Here they are:
1. Use the Proper Template and Format for the Resume Work History
This study by The Ladders found that recruiters spend, on average, just 7 seconds on each resume they get.
Here’s the twist: it applies mostly to resumes that have poor formatting and are difficult to follow.
Legible formatting of your resume work history is key to earning more eye-time.
Here’s what you need to do to present the work experience on a resume the way recruiters expect:
Work Experience on a Resume: Layout
1. Name the section “Work Experience,” “Work History,” or “Professional Experience.” Write the section heading in bold and make it slightly larger than the rest of the contents.
2. Use reverse-chronological order. Start with your current or most recent job, follow it with the one before it, and so on.
3. In each entry heading, list, in the following order: your job title, the name of the company, and dates worked.
4. Underneath each job add up to 6 bullet points describing your duties and achievements.
5. At the bottom of each entry add a subsection named “Most relevant accomplishment” or “Key achievement.” Present your proudest professional win.
6. Focus on your most recent work experience. Make your job descriptions briefer and briefer as you go back in time.
2. Make Your Resume Job Descriptions Relevant to the Opening
Recruiters don’t care how successful you’ve been so far, in general.
They want to know if you’re familiar with the duties and responsibilities that come with the advertised position.
If there’s just one takeaway I want you to get out of reading this guide, it’s this:
Personalize every work experience entry on your resume to the position you’re trying to land.
Remember Amelia, the candidate from our sample resume job description?
She’s eyeing the Head of Digital Marketing position. Her most recent job has been a managerial role in digital marketing, but—
Before that, she worked as a Product Manager. So, what did she do? In her resume work history, she described responsibilities that were relevant to digital marketing.
Have a look:
Work Experience on a Resume: Sample
Don’t get me wrong. The bad example isn’t “bad” as such. It’s just not right for this particular post.
How to make your professional experience resume section relevant?
- Read the job description carefully. Jot down all responsibilities described.
- Ask yourself: how many of these duties and tasks have I performed?
- Quite a few, right? Focus on these when describing your work history.
- For bonus points, pick exact phrases from the job ad and use them on your resume: it will help you outsmart the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
Need more in-depth guidance on personalizing or tailoring your resume to the job description? Go here: How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description to Get More Offers
Making a major career change but having actually no relevant experience? See: Career Change Resume: How to Make Sure It Land You the Job
Being relevant in your resume job description isn’t just about what you write. It’s also about how far back your resume work experience should go and what you choose to omit.
How many years on a resume work experience section?
Here's how far back a resume should go:
- No more than 15 years of relevant work history for senior-level candidates.
- Junior to mid-level candidates? All relevant paid positions and internships you’ve had.
- Entry-level candidates and applicants with no experience whatsoever should list all paid and unpaid work including volunteering, part-time jobs, and practicums.
Expert Hint: If you’re not a seasoned pro yet, make sure to include internships in your resume work experience. Research has shown that internship experience increases the interview rate by 14%.
And is there any sort of work experience you should leave out no matter what?
Yes—and, again, there’s science behind it.
Unless you’re fresh out of college, don’t put low-level interim jobs on your resume. They can hurt your callback rate by as much as 15%.
And, yes, according to the same data, it’s better to leave employment gaps on a resume (no variation in callback rates by the duration of unemployment!) than list interim blue-collar gigs.
You know how to lay out your experience for greatest impact and you’ve learned how to personalize every job description.
Now, for the final part: time to learn how to showcase your strengths, not just everyday responsibilities—
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3. Show How Well You Did Your Job Instead of Just Describing Duties
Some food for thought:
People don’t drink diet Coke because of low calorie. They do it to look better than that coworker they hate at the end-of-year party.
The same goes for employers: they won’t hire, say, an “experienced customer service rep,” a “project manager skilled in Agile and Scrum,” or a “developer with extensive knowledge of PHP and R.”
They’ll go with someone who’ll raise their revenue, cut costs, or optimize processes. In your resume work experience, show them you’re that person.
Provide proof of your achievements, don’t just list your responsibilities and “features.” Focus on benefits for your future employer.
There are three steps:
1. Start each bullet point in your job description with an action verb.
No more “responsible for the development of … .” Go with “developed.”
Resume Action Words for a Resume Job Description: Examples
2. Use the Problem-Action-Result (PAR) formula to highlight your achievements.
Resume Job Description Sample: PAR Formula
- Designed new phone survey scenarios to enhance customer retention by 32%.
Problem? Phone surveys were bad for customer retention.
Action? So I designed new survey scenarios.
Result? Customer retention raised by 32%.
3. Quantify whenever possible.
Forget about “significantly boosting sales.” Say how much exactly. Demonstrating results with numbers in the work experience on your resume enhances your hireability by 40%.
I know, I know.
Not everyone works with hard numbers and sometimes it’s difficult to measure your results.
But still—there are other ways to back up your performance with quantified data. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself:
- How many people were on your team?
- How many people from other teams did you collaborate with?
- How big were your budgets?
- How often did you perform certain tasks?
- How much work were you able to get done in a week or a month?
- Which kind of skills make you truly stand out from the crowd (for example, you could include outstanding computer and software skills relevant to the position)?
That’s right: answers to these should appear in the job descriptions on your resume.
Expert Hint: “Does a resume need a cover letter?” It certainly does. Just like 83% of hiring managers who admit that a candidate’s cover letter is an important factor when making a hiring decision.
Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
Here’s how to write your resume work experience section right:
- Use the proper resume format. List your past jobs in reverse-chronological order. (Reading from outside the US? Check out US resume format guide).
- Personalize every resume you send.
- Be selective with what you include in the resume and mention only work experience relevant to the job you’re targeting.
- Focus on your achievements instead of responsibilities.
- Use action verbs at the beginning of each bullet point.
- Don't list responsibilities and skills for the job, show it with examples and quantify your key results whenever possible.
All check? Keep your phone charged and ready. You’re in for some job interviews!
Questions? Concerns? I’m here to listen and answer. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll get back to you right away.