Experience

This is the section where you will list your past work history, possibly your volunteer positions, and it may actually be one or two sections.

If you have a little volunteer experience that is not directly related to the position for which you are applying, it can be included in an Extracurricular section. However, if your volunteer activities are substantial, you may wish to have a Work Experience section and a Volunteer Experience section.

If some of your recent employment is seemingly unrelated to the position for which you are applying, you can highlight the more related positions by having a Related Experience section followed by an Other Experience section.

Do you need to include all of your past work history – no. You definitely want to include what is most relevant and the most recent. It is ok to have some gaps in your timeline but be prepared to speak to them in an interview. These days, most employers recognize that people may have periods of unemployment, maternity/paternity leave or temporary health issues, as well as take time off for sabbaticals or to pursue higher education. There is no standard as to how many years of history to include as everyone’s background is different. While one person may have worked at the same company for many years, they may have held one or many positions. Contract and freelance work is also more prevalent than ever, causing some people to have a lengthier list of employers.

In the Experience section(s) of your resume, what you say is important but how you say it can make all the difference. You want the focus to be on your skills and accomplishments, rather than an inventory of past duties. The purpose of including work history is to provide proof of the skills. You can claim you have a certain skill but if you can give one or more examples of how you used that skill in the past, the employer can better envision you using that skill in the new job. Even with the most unrelated past experience, you can almost always find some transferable skills.

Tips:

  • Use bullet points (as opposed to paragraphs) and start each point with a part-tense verb. It makes it easier for the reader to glance and choose which lines they wish to read more fully.
  • Whenever possible, quantify actions using numbers and/or adjectives.
  • Never leave the reader thinking “That’s nice but so what? “Why do I care?” or “How does that have anything to do with the job I’m hiring for?”
Experience with Career Incite

What you say is important, but how you say it
can make all the difference.

Two before and after examples:

Example #1 - before

Receptionist, Company XYZ, Smalltown, Ontario
May 2005-August 2005
Company XYZ, Smalltown, Ontario

  • Files documents and answers the phone


Example #1 - after

Receptionist May – August 2005

Company XYZ, Smalltown, Ontario

  • Greeted up to 30 visitors and answered over 100 calls per day on a four-line phone system
  • Demonstrated good customer service and communication skills while responding to inquiries on 45 different industrial cleaning products daily
  • Utilized organizational skills to design new filing system and increase office efficiency

Example #2 - before

Teaching Assistant, Hometown University, September 2006-Present
Assisted with Engineer 1PO3 classes, lead tutorials, marked tests


Example #2 - after

Teaching Assistant September 2006 - Present

Faculty of Engineering, Hometown University, Hometown, Ontario

  • Assisted the Instructor with first-year Engineering class of 50 students
  • Utilized good communication and interpersonal skills to lead tutorials aimed at improving performance of students and the overall class
  • Exercised discretion to mark assignments and tests, demonstrating good attention to detail and knowledge of linear algebra
  • Worked average of 12 hours per week while attending school full-time

Remember, although your resume is about you, you want to put the emphasis
on your accomplishments and skills so that it becomes more about
what you have to offer the employer.