Careers Resume Work Experience

We'll cover what should and shouldn't go into the work and education sections of your resume. And if you're new to your field of study, you'll learn how to weave other relevant experience into your resume for breaking into it.

Work Experience

The first company listed should be the most recent company where you worked and the rest of the companies where you've worked in reverse chronological order.

If you are still employed/on payroll at your most recent company, you can indicate "present" instead of the end month and year of your employment, if you want.

For each specific company, you should include:

  • Company Name
  • Location of Company (City,State)
  • Dates of Employment
  • Title(s)

Work Experience Bullets

Similar to the bullets in your Technical Projects section, your Work Experience bullets should follow this content format:

  • Strong bullet = Action verb + task + result
    • Action Verb = Past/Present Tense
    • Task = What did you do? Is it quantifiable? Keep in mind, however, that this is not the central focus of your bullet point.
    • Result = Go beyond telling what you did and describe how and why you did it? What did you accomplish? What was the result or outcome of your work? What was the impact/purpose?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Every resume bullet should start with an action verb. If it’s a position in the past, that verb needs to be in the SIMPLE PAST TENSE. If you’re still employed at that company, verbs should be in the SIMPLE PRESENT TENSE.

  • When outlining your responsibilities and achievements, consistency in formatting, tenses and appropriate grammar are important. All resumes should be in 3rd person. No “I”, “me”, “my” or your name.

  • Be careful not to repeat words too often. For example, it’s very common to see “managed” throughout a resume. There are a number of synonyms that could be used instead: “Oversaw” “Led” “Executed” or “Ran”. Wherever possible your bullets should be result/impact/benefit oriented. Instead of just listing a task, consider this: What did the task result in? What good or benefit did it drive?

  • Spell Check! Spell Check! Spell Check! And then have someone else take a look at it to spell check it again.

What Experience is Relevant

If you are relatively new to the labor force or transitioning into your field of study from another career you might ask yourself, “What do I put into the work section if I don’t have much relevant work experience?” Think about specific projects that you worked on.

If you’re transitioning from another career, below are two examples of ways to think about how your seemingly non-relevant background is relevant:

  • If you were previously in marketing and are looking for a web developer job, talk about a project where you had to develop an online advertising campaign to promote a brand/product.

  • If you were a library science major who wants to go into data science, talk about a project where you used technology to assist you in a data research and analysis project.

  • If you worked in a completely non-technical role, think about what skills you utilized, and responsibilities you held that would be desirable to potential employers.

If you’re fresh out of college and new to the workforce, you might think that summer jobs and part time jobs are immaterial to the career path you want to pursue; however, they can be used to highlight your qualities of responsibility, commitment, and transferable skills (e.g. your customer service experience while working in a coffee shop or as a summer camp counselor are both jobs that show you work well with others).

If you have a lot of experience, that’s great, but remember to emphasize the things that will get you noticed in the field you are trying to break into. You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had in your life.

You should also highlight the skills that will clearly illustrate the ability to contribute to the success of the company. Companies are looking for candidates who can communicate well, drive for results, are enthusiastic, and work well with others.

If you are 0-5 years out of college, keep your resume to 1 page. If you have 5-10 years of experience, 2 pages is okay. If you have beyond 10 years of experience, try to focus on the 10 most recent years of your career, unless something earlier than that is relevant. In this case, 2 pages is also okay.

Provide Enough Detail

When you think about your responsibilities in past jobs, don’t just think about what you did. Think about the specific results of the work you did and the impact you had. If you have quantitative information to support your results, be sure to include that. Overall, be as specific as possible, especially with numerical data.

Examples of bullets that do not contain enough relevant information:

  • Made drinks for Starbucks customers during rush hours (Barista)
  • Made lesson plans (Special Ed Teacher)
  • Created award-winning logo (Graphic Designer)

Examples of same bullets listed above, but amended to articulate specific accomplishments, awards or quantitative results. These are more impressive ways of saying the same thing:

  • Increased Starbucks’ rush hour sales by 14% over six months using suggestive and up-selling strategies (Barista)
  • Designed and taught year-long curriculum for English Language Arts for students in grades 7-12 (Special Ed Teacher)
  • Won an American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design USA for Mudd Valley logo. Featured in Graphic Design USA December 2015 issue, seen by over 100,000 working design professionals (Graphic Designer)

**Additional Things to Think About When Writing Your Resume

  • Some people will be focused on your previous employers since they may previously have had success hiring from one of them.
  • Other people will want to confirm there aren’t any employment gaps.
    • Don’t panic if there are gaps in employment. Work with your coach to fill in the blanks during interviews. Were you teaching yourself code? Taking care of a family member or children? Volunteering? There is always a story worth telling in the gaps.
  • Titles may serve to ensure you can make the leap to the job that is open.
  • Results, achievements, quantitative data and metrics show what you accomplished and provide reassurance that you could do this and more at their company.

Education

You should include:

  • College or University, along with the city and state of the school.
  • Any degree obtained and major.
  • If you did some college coursework but didn’t finish your degree, below is one way to report this:
    • “Coursework completed towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience” (write out the full degree name, vs. “B.A.”)
  • Add in your GPA if you are within 10 years of graduation and it’s over a 3.3.
  • If you graduated Magna or Summa Cum Laude, include that but don’t list more than 3 additional awards.
  • Graduation year should come off your resume when you get to be 10+ years out of college.
  • There is no need to include your high school or associate’s degree information if you have a Bachelor’s degree.
  • If you did not attend any college or other online post-secondary training or vocational programs, do not leave your education field blank. Include your high school (even if you obtained a GED) and Flatiron School. Employers always want to see some form of education.

APPLYING ONLINE?

Make sure to optimize your resume for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a type of software that companies use to organize applicants. Most hiring companies, including 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies, use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to collect, filter, and search for job applicants. Just like a search engine, after a recruiter's search, some applicant tracking systems rank applicants by keywords (skills, job positions) and filters (i.e. location and education). So, as an applicant, you should optimize your resume specifically to fit the job you are applying for. To make your resume ATS friendly review this document.

Next Steps

Now is the time to start putting the pieces together. Remember the resume template you made a copy of earlier? Take a stab at your first draft. Complete the technical, work, and education experience sections to the best of your ability.

Use this checklist to ensure you’re on track.

If you will be working with a Career Coach, make sure to connect with them, as you will spend time reviewing your resume line-by-line so it represents you in the best possible light and demonstrates the value you've added to your past experiences.

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