Resume Tips – Experience (the boring part of our resume?)

You already know that your resume is your first impression during the job search process so you need it to make you look good. As we continue with our series on resume tips, we return to the EXPERIENCE section. This is almost always the longest section of our resume so we want to give it proper attention, and make sure it isn’t boring. It is the section that tells prospective employers what you have done and how you have done it – and you want them to be totally impressed, right? While sharing every single detail of what you did in every single one of your past jobs may have them thinking you are “thorough”, they will also be BORED. As you compose your EXPERIENCE section, you want to be concise, yet compelling. You want to get to the point, and only to the points that matter.

For most candidates, the important job duties to list are:

  1. Duties that you performed that made you a valuable part of the employer’s operation (not the kind of things people think of when they hear “and other assorted duties” but rather things that required special knowledge or skills.
  2. Duties that you performed that are directly related to the duties of the position for which you are applying/seeking.

And if you had notable achievements in a position, this is a good time to list them.

As for the question “How many years do I go back?”, there is not a single opinion that rules right now. Some resume consultants will tell you that if you are “older” you may only want to go back 10 or 15 years so that you don’t make an obvious point of your age. Others feel that you should go back as far as you want as long as the positions you held were relevant to the kind of work you are seeking. We prefer to have our candidates go back 10-15 years with full details and then just list the company and position (no job duties) for other relevant positions. Age discrimination is real so limiting the number of years you cover is something to consider, but that can also be impacted by the type of position for which you are applying.

The major points you should take away from this post are:

  1. Be concise and compelling with the duties you list, and make sure they are relevant to the jobs you are seeking as often as possible.
  2. Try to keep your resume brief. The preferred max is 2 pages, but you can go to 3 pages if necessary to include relevant history. After all, you want to save something new to tell in the interview so no need to go overboard here.

If you have specific questions on things we do not cover here, remember that you can email me. (I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.) And stay tuned for our next post on when and if to include Skills, Awards, Volunteer Work and References on your resume.

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