How to list work experience on a resume?

It is not uncommon to find yourself at a crossroads when trying to write your work experience on a resume. While writing your previous job title and employer is simple, summarizing your experience, accomplishments, responsibilities, and other critical information may seem overwhelming. 

Here are some tips to help you format your resume experience like a pro.

List your work experience in chronological order

When listing your work experience and employment history, place your current work experience as the first item or top of the page. Make sure you specifically identify your job title, employment dates, and company name. 

Chronological order helps hiring managers or recruiters see your most current accomplishments and understand your professional development over time. Some people also list the month and year in their employment timeline; others simply include the years. Details like dates and years are generally a personal preference.

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As you write your current role and responsibilities, make sure your accomplishments are written in the present tense as these are tasks you are currently responsible for. Writing the narrative in the present or past tense is acceptable for anything in your previous work history. However, you may want to keep everything in the present tense for consistency.

Use data to back up your success

If you have access to data on your performance or accomplishments, don’t be afraid to use it (as long as it doesn’t violate company confidentiality policies). When data is not readily available, make an educated guess to summarize your accomplishments.

For example, if you are a sales representative responsible for $2 million per quarter in revenue, you can say, “Responsible for generating over $8 million in annual revenue.” This will give the reader an idea of your responsibilities and contributions to your employer. 

Put your most significant data points at the top of your list of achievements for each of your previous roles. Big numbers draw attention, and you want the hiring manager to take notice of your accomplishments.

Don’t use acronyms or company internal dialogue

Be mindful that not everyone will know your current organization’s internal language and acronyms, especially regarding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

Take the time to reflect on what the acronym, verb, phrase, or KPI means and write in a way that anyone reading can understand.

If you do have to use an acronym, include the definition in parentheses. Everything should be clear as you never know who will take a first glance at your resume.

Read the required and preferred qualifications

Required and preferred qualifications are listed so applicants can easily reference what the hiring team is looking for in a candidate. Your resume should cover all the required qualifications for the role.

Covering the qualifications throughout your resume presents you as a standout candidate and shows the hiring manager you paid attention to the job description.

You want to understand what the hiring team is looking for based on reading the job posting. Work experience says a lot about a candidate and can easily put your resume at the top of the applicant pool. Be mindful of your audience and try to articulate your experience to make it easy to digest to someone outside of your current organization.

Adjusting your resume for each role may help you look more qualified. But doing so is a personal choice for each applicant. It’s also a good idea to get someone you trust to look at what you have drafted and get feedback on making it easier to understand from an outside perspective.