Work Experience on a Resume: The Ultimate Guide

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: March 27, 2024

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To write the perfect resume work experience section you must go beyond just listing your duties and show hiring managers what you accomplished for each job. That’s what most recruiters want to know and they’ll look at your past work experience to decide if you’re their missing puzzle piece. So, how you display your accomplishments is key. So we’re here to help you.

Every section of a resume plays an important role and should be written with the same care, but here we will focus on your resume work history section. 

We’ll cover:

How to list work experience on a resume

To market yourself and show the recruiter you’re the best candidate, it’s important to highlight the most relevant work experience. Here’s everything you need to know on how to write work experience on a resume:

Step 1: Prepare your information

Preparing your work experience for your resume is just as important as writing it in your job history section. Here’s how to prepare your work experience: 

  • Make a list of your past employers, job titles and responsibilities.
  • Focus on your last one to 10 years of employment. If you don’t have formal work experience, consider other relevant experience, such as internships, volunteer activities, community service work, or academic or personal projects.
  • Make note of what you achieved for each job.
  • Consider what you’re most proud of from your past job experiences. Be specific about how you tackled challenges and describe the positive impact of your actions.
  • Consider how applicant tracking systems (ATS) will read your resume.
  • Most potential employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to select resumes. ATS software scans resumes for keywords related to the job listing, so align your work experience and skills to the job. 

Step 2: List your work experience in reverse-chronological order.

Next, organize your work history with your current or most recent job and work backward chronologically.

Step 3: Add essential information about each job you held.

For each job, display, in order:  

  • The company name, city and state.
  • The dates you were employed.
  • Your job title.

Step 4: Showcase three to five achievements for each job experience 

To make your resume work history section stand out, displaying your job responsibilities is not enough. Instead, show potential employers what you can do for them by showcasing your professional accomplishments.

Add three to five measurable achievements for each job. Hiring managers spend less than a minute reviewing a resume, so use bullet points to make your accomplishments concise and easy to find. 

After completing all four steps,  your resume work experience section should look like this:

  • Good Example

    Graphic Designer | First Agency | Seattle, WA
    02/2020–Present  

    • Design brochures, billboards, flyers and other marketing material for eight clients.
    • Created and designed a campaign for Sweet Chips, resulting in a 30% increase in sales and a large social media following.
    • Actively brainstorm new concepts with team members twice a week to develop creative solutions and unique strategies for 20 campaigns per month.
 

Not like this:

  • Bad Example

Graphic Design Guru | First Agency | Washington

Feb. of 2020–Today 

  • Design marketing material for clients. 
  • Created a campaign for Sweet Chips.
  • Brainstorm with other team members to come up with ideas for campaigns.

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Extra tips for listing your work experience on your resume

  • Include only relevant work history: Avoid overwhelming potential employers by displaying every job you’ve ever worked — especially if your job history spans over 10 years. Potential employers only want to know about your work experience if it pertains to their job opening. Use recent experience.
  • Use recent experience: Write about your most recent work history. If you’re a job seeker with many years of experience, only focus on jobs from the last decade. Keep your work experience short and limit your resume to one or two pages.
  • Tailor your work experience to the job: Carefully read the job posting before crafting your resume work history section and customize your accomplishments to Include key skills and “must-have” job requirements.
  • Use action verbs: Your work experience should tell a compelling success story and action verbs can help. Strong action verbs like “administered,” “organized,” “coordinated,” “designed,” or “developed” will present you as a proactive, energetic employee.
  • Add success metrics.
    Numbers in your work experience can make a powerful impact on your work accomplishments — and give you a 40% boost over the competition. Your metrics might include the number of people you supervised, an improved outcome or increased revenue, or the average number of patrons you helped daily.  
  • Show career progression.
    Potential employers like to see work experience progression on resumes, so highlight how you took on additional responsibilities and opportunities to move forward in your career.
  • Emphasize your unique skills: Writing about unique skills or responsibilities from previous positions can also set your work experience section apart. These details help the hiring managers see some personality instead of another candidate in the pipeline.

How to choose a resume format to display your work experience

Every resume format has a work experience section but each displays it differently, depending on your goals. Consider what you want to highlight on your resume before selecting one of the following formats:

Chronological: The chronological resume format is the most commonly used resume format. A chronological work history section organizes your information by date, starting with your current or most recent position. It’s ideal for candidates with a long employment history — more than eight or 10 years of work experience — and no employment gaps.

Here’s an example of a chronological resume:

Geotechnical Engineer Resume Example Experienced

Functional: Functional resumes are well-suited to job seekers applying for their first job and applicants with gaps in their job history because they spotlight skills over workexperience. As you can see from our functional resume example, this format includes a work history section but it is short and appears just below the skills section. 

Here’s an example of a functional resume:

Medical Assistant Resume Example Entry Level
Combination: The combination resume, also known as the hybrid resume, combines chronological and functional features. This type of resume begins with a summary of qualifications and essential skills, similar to the functional style. Then, it uses a chronological list to capture your work experience equally.
Here’s an example of a combination resume:
Technical Writer Resume Example Mid Career

Work experience examples for different career levels

Need some ideas on how to write work experience on your resume? Here are a few examples of work experience written by our experts.

Two years work experience with the same company

Food Server | Burger Shack Unlimited | Newark, NJ | 2020 – Present

  • Greet up to 40 customers per hour and take accurate orders on the register for menu items.
  • Prepare food items for a menu of 36 dishes using restaurant-supplied recipes by correctly measuring ingredients and mixing items.
  • Use the POS system to calculate customer food order totals and take payment for more than 50 cash and credit card transactions per day.
  • Deliver friendly customer service to hundreds of customers daily and address their concerns when needed.
  • Follow all proper on-the-job safe food-handling procedures and cleaning regulations when working with raw ingredients and serving.

Three years work experience with the same company

3D Animator | Newscape Studios | Chicago, IL | 2020 – Present

  • Design quality benchmarks for projects to maintain a 90.5% producer satisfaction rate.
  • Collaborate with the motion capture department to collect and apply data for at least 30 characters per week.
  • Work with five writers and 10 producers to translate artistic vision into a visual medium.

Assistant Animator | Newscape Studios | Chicago, IL | 2019 – 2020

  • Collaborated with the motion capture department to collect data for over 100 characters and apply them to animations.
  • Completed award winning hand-drawn animation on Adobe Animate CC for television and cinematic use.
  • Combined technical and artistic skills to accomplish more than 60 challenging animation objectives.

Five years of work experience with two companies, different jobs

Dishwasher | Plank’s Tavern on the Waterfront | Portland, OR | 2020 – Present

  • Efficiently load and unload dishwashers five times daily, hand-cleaning large pots and utensils used by kitchen staff.
  • Wash and sanitize dirty dishes for approximately 1500 customers per week by hand and by using the dishwasher.
  • Load over 100 glasses, silverware and dishes into the dishwasher each shift, running an average of 10 loads daily.

Cashier | Target | Portland, OR | 2018 – 2020

  • Answered questions about store policies and concerns to an average of 30 customers daily to support positive customer experiences.
  • Restocked, arranged and organized merchandise five times per day in front lanes to drive product sales.
  • Completed manual and machine counts of funds for transactions valued at over $500.

6+ years of work experience with the same company, different jobs

Senior Copywriter | The Art of Digital Content | Anaheim, CA | 2018 – Present

  • Create high-impact messaging for all marketing media, contributing to a 35% increase in revenue and market share.
  • Provide editorial guidance to other four cross-functinal departments, including the marketing team, ensuring the delivery of top-quality content.
  • Authored online display ads that drove click-conversion rates of 2.35% in two months.

Copywriter | The Art of Digital Content | Anaheim, CA | 2013 – 2018

  • Edited 100+ pieces of content produced by senior executives, modifying the text to conform to company-wide branding standards and publication guidelines.
  • Wrote advertising copy for online content, adhering to employers’ overarching brand identity and personality, and increasing click-through rates by 25%.
  • Incorporated between 11.5k and 30.3k SEO keywords into copy to increase search result rankings, producing high conversion rates.

10 years work experience with two companies, same job

Retail Pharmacist | Well-Drug | Tulsa, OK | 2016 – Present

  • Fill more than 25 prescription drugs per hour in various forms, such as tablets, liquid medication and more, for a popular drugstore chain.
  • Verify medication and history to check for any potential adverse reactions for more than 40 customers per day.
  • Use extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals to make recommendations for generic drugs for 20+ customers per day.
  • Complete daily inventories of controlled substances and other drugs by counting supplies and tracking 100+ prescription fillings daily.
  • Oversee seven pharmacists and four part-time pharmacy technicians by scheduling shifts and evaluating employment records.

Assistant Pharmacist | Aid Mart | Tulsa, OK | 2011 – 2016

  • Educated an average of 35 patients daily patients about potential side effects, dosage information, and drug storage when dispensing medicines.
  • Submitted paperwork and information to insurance companies for 150+ patients per week and verified coverage before filling medications.
  • Stocked inventory for non-prescription medication for behind-the-counter access, such as allergy and cold medicine, twice weekly.

15 years work experience with three companies, different jobs

Senior UX Designer | Peloton | Plano, TX | 2012 – Present

  • Utilize strong interactive and usability design skills to lead production and assessments for user-friendly interactions for three different projects.
  • Develop detailed user flows, site maps and wireframes to communicate user flow and interaction clearly to six cross-functional teams.
  • Lead a team of seven designers through prioritizing work, problem-solving through production, and creating an open work environment to nurture new ideas and communication.

Junior UI Designer | Konrad | Plano, TX | 2006 – 2012

  • Assisted in project production, debugging code and completing minor fixes for eight Fortune 500 clients.
  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced environment running two to three different projects at a time.
  • Fostered a collaborative design process with three product managers, four user researchers, and eight engineers to work toward strategic goals and feature requirements.

UX Design Intern | imre, LLC. | Plano, TX | 2005 – 2006

  • Took notes managed a database of 150 client files and created presentations for five weekly client meetings.
  • Hunted for new trends and emerging technology and created social media posts around them, averaging 12 posts per month.
  • Assisted two project managers in creating client mapping and 20 prototypes in the fashion and e-commerce business.

How to make your resume work history ATS-friendly

When crafting your resume, it’s crucial to optimize your resume work history section to be ATS-friendly. Applicant tracking systems play a significant role in the initial screening process for many employers, making it essential to tailor your resume to ensure it is effectively scanned and recognized by these systems. By strategically incorporating relevant keywords, using the job title from the ad, and presenting your work history in a clear and concise format, you can enhance the visibility of your qualifications and increase your chances of advancing to the next stage of the hiring process.

Optimizing your resume work experience section can increase the chances of your resume being recognized and selected by applicant tracking systems and ultimately improve your chances of landing an interview.

Follow our tips below to enhance your work experience on your resume.

  • Use standard job titles: Ensure that the job titles you use are commonly recognized and match the title of the job you are applying for or job titles typically used in your industry.
  • Include relevant keywords: Boost your resume work history keywords and phrases that match the job requirements. 
  • Use bullet points: Organize your work history with bullet points to make it easier for the ATS to scan and extract relevant information.
  • Quantify your achievements: Where possible, include numbers that show the impact of your accomplishments to make your work history more compelling to both the ATS and potential employers.
  • Avoid graphics and images: ATS systems may have difficulty reading graphics and images, so it is best to stick to plain text in your work history section.

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How To Mak A Unique Cl

Expert advice for unique work experiences

Crafting a compelling resume work history section can be particularly challenging when you have a unique job history, such as employment gaps, lack of traditional experience, or a career change. In these situations, you must be strategic when highlighting your skills, accomplishments and potential to prospective employers. 

By effectively addressing and framing your unique circumstances in your resume work experience section, you can present yourself as a strong candidate and stand out in a competitive job market. Here we provide guidance and tips for navigating unique work situations so your job history spotlights your strengths and suitability for the desired role.

How to write work experience on a resume with employment gaps

Knowing how to address an employment gap in your resume is extremely important. We highly recommend using the combination resume format in this situation because it will put equal importance on your work experience and skills, so the gap won’t be as noticeable.

If your employment gap was longer than a year, you can include what you were doing during that time as part of your work experience — but only do this if you gained relevant skills or training and be brief. For example, maybe you cared for your family, volunteered with a local organization, earned a relevant certification, or picked up a gig. 

Here’s an example of how to write a resume work experience section if you have employment gaps:

Combination Resume Example With an Employment Gap

How to write work experience on a resume when you’re applying for your first job 

When you don’t have work experience, think outside the box. Were you in any relevant internships? Do you have a personal project that relates to the job you are applying to? Were you involved in an extracurricular activity that gave you important skills and experience? Did your school club arrange fundraising events or donation drives? All of these can be written in your resume — they’re valuable! 

Consider using a functional resume that centers around your skills and strengths. It will help you show the hiring manager that you’re a well-rounded candidate with great potential.

Here’s an example of a no experience resume:

Functional Resume Example for a Person With No Experience

How to list work experience for a career change

Updating a resume for a career change is all about highlighting transferable skills and relevant job experience to make a connection between your previous jobs and your new career path. Read the job description carefully and match your current skills to the required skills in the ad. Then highlight and include only your job-relevant work experience and skills.

Consider using a combination resume format and switching your professional summary to a resume objective to market yourself as the best candidate for the job. 

The following is a good example of a resume for a career change:

Combination Resume Example for a Career Changer

How to include freelance, contract or gig work experience

Don’t hide your short-term projects! Display them with your traditional full-time jobs or create a separate section for them in your job history section. Effectively incorporating freelance, contract, or gig work into your work experience section demonstrates your versatility, and adaptability, and showcases the valuable skills you gained in today’s gig-based workforce.

Here are some tips on how to effectively include this type of work:

  • Use clear labels: Indicate whether the position was freelance, contract, or gig work Use headings such as “Freelance Projects,” “Contract Work,” or “Gig Experience” to differentiate these roles from traditional full-time positions.
  • Highlight key projects and clients: Showcase specific projects you worked on and the clients or companies you collaborated with during your freelance, contract, or gig work. Include details about the scope of the projects, your role and any notable achievements.
  • Quantify your results: Whenever possible, quantify the impact of your freelance, contract, or gig work by including metrics or results achieved. This could include metrics such as revenue generated, cost savings, or project completion time.
  • Emphasize your transferable skills: Highlight the transferable skills you developed through your freelance, contract, or gig work relevant to the position you are applying for. Focus on skills such as time management, adaptability, communication and problem-solving.
  • Provide context: Briefly explain the nature of your freelance, contract, or gig work, including how you obtained clients, managed projects, and delivered results. This will help employers understand the value you can bring to their organization.

Resume experience examples by job title

Need inspiration for writing your resume work history section? Look for resume examples with similar job titles in the same industry. They will give you ideas for presenting your work experience and other key resume sections. 

When you’re ready to write your resume, choose an expertly designed resume template and fill it in using our Resume Builder for a professional resume in minutes. 

Here are some resume examples to get you started.

Procurement Manager

Procurement Manager Resume Example

Sales Associate

Sales Associate Resume Example

Zumba Instructor

Zumba Instructor Resume Example

Resident Assistant

Resident Assistant Resume Example

Radio Host

Radio Host Resume Example

Property Manager

Property Manager Resume Example

Key takeaways

To wrap up, let’s quickly go over what we discussed in this article and what we taught you on how to write work experience on a resume: 

  • Follow standard formatting in your resume job history section: job title, company name, company’s location and dates of employment.
  • Recap your work experience with three to five bullet points per job.
  • Start each bullet point with an action verb.
  • Tailor each job experience you’re listing to the job you’re applying to.
  • Highlight achievements instead of everyday tasks and include numbers when possible.
  • Each resume format highlights work experience differently, so choose the one that best presents your experience and skills.
  • If you don’t have work experience, it’s acceptable to use internships, community service, volunteer work and academic or personal projects that demonstrate your ability to perform the job you want.

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