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How to List Professional Experience on Your Resume

Your work history = the ice cream of your professional sundae

Photo courtesy of Bram Naus

The professional experience section of your resume is arguably the most important. It’s where your potential employer will look to see if you have the kind of experience they’re looking for in a new hire. Here, you’ll list your relevant work history that reinforces your objective or resume summary, and where you’ll convince the reader you’re worth calling in for an interview.

On average, recruiters spend just 7.4 seconds scanning your resume, and your previous experience and accomplishments are likely what you want them to glean first.

So, how far back should I go?

It’s tempting to list all of your amazing lifetime work achievements to impress employers, but keep your professional experience section as relevant as possible to the position you're applying for and limit it to the last ten years—unless you’re changing careers or very new to the workforce.

Read more: How to Make a Resume for Your First Job

What information should I list?

Under the professional experience header, you’ll want to list each job separately, complete with your job title, company name, dates of employment, location, and a bulleted list of your responsibilities and achievements. Always list your experience in chronological order, with your most recent job first.

Read more: 3 Ways to Show a Promotion on Your Resume

Tips for talking about your professional experience

  • Always use the active voice. Use action words like implemented, streamlined, delegated, created, produced, increased, etc.

Passive voice: Impressions on Instagram were increased by ten percent.

Active voice: I increased social impressions by ten percent through…

  • Use keywords from the job description. Pulling language from the job listing is a great way to get through applicant tracking systems (software that automatically sorts through applications based on the language in them) and get the attention of human readers too. Check out our guide on how to use resume buzzwords effectively .

  • List results, not just responsibilities. Your prospective employer wants to know that you can deliver. Don’t just say, Responsibilities included creating new marketing strategies. That’s great, but why does it matter? Instead, say, Exceeded quarterly sales goal by 12 percent through new targeted marketing strategies . Make every word count.

  • Quantify your responsibilities. Make sure you’re sneaking in as many numbers as you can to your professional experience—quantify everything. If you write articles for your job, how many do you write per week? If you’re a hair stylist, how many clients do you see in a day? If you’re a consultant, how many new clients have you landed?

How should I format it?

List all of the basics at the top—job title, company name, location, dates of employment, etc. Underneath, bullet your responsibilities.

Read more: How to Make a Resume for Your First Job

Here's a template you can use

[Job title], [Company Name]

[Dates of employment]

  • Quantifiable responsibility with results.

  • Quantifiable responsibility with results.

  • Quantifiable responsibility with results.

Here’s a completed example

Creative Director, Company XYZ

March 2016–November 2019

  • Managed a team of 20 employees, including graphic designers, UX designers, content writers, and marketing managers.

  • Created 25 digital marketing and advertising campaigns for ten of the company’s key accounts that were included among the Top 500 corporations.

  • Improved social engagement and increased impressions for ten clients by an average of 25 percent.

Read more: How to List Certifications on Your Resume

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