Experience – Inside Information, Examples, Q&A


Demonstrating Your Experience

Your Experience section should clearly demonstrate to a prospective employer that you possess the skills, abilities, knowledge, experience and personal characteristics that will enable you to excel in the position you are applying for. You should address the employer’s concern, “If hired, how can you immediately benefit the organization.” For most job seekers, the Experience section is the most important section of your resume because it focuses potential employers on the most significant qualifications from your previous work experience and provides the necessary reasons for bringing you in for an interview.

When writing your Experience section, it is essential that you understand the type of position, career field and industry you are seeking so that you can tailor the presentation of your previous experience in a way that effectively qualifies you for your job target. Include only those job responsibilities, skills and achievements that substantiate your qualifications for your next job and consider including any previous experience (even unpaid, part-time, volunteer, or consulting work) from the past 10 to 15 years that demonstrates your ability to achieve success and produce positive results. Your Experience section lists your positions at previous companies in reverse chronological order beginning with your most recent job.

Insider Tip:  Update the heading of your EXPERIENCE section to a more representative name as yet another way to reinforce your suitability for the position:







The most important thing to remember is that your Experience section is more than a listing of your job history. It’s a sales pitch to prospective employers about what you are best at, so sell the qualities that are most important. Highlight your strengths to make your resume stand out.

What Information Should be Included

The most persuasive Experience section includes a summary paragraph (2 to 3 sentences) that measurably describes your overall role, outlines your most significant accomplishments, and offers tangible information about the company itself.

Describe the size of the company, size of your department, size of your annual budget or sales, or the number of people who worked for you. Give the employer an idea of your company’s place in the market and your place within the company. If the industry is not obvious from the company name and is relevant to your future employer, then you may want to describe the company in more detail (“a leading advertising agency”). Consider including a statement about who you reported to if it is an indication of your level of responsibility (“Reported directly to the Executive Vice-President of Sales”).

Your summary paragraph is followed by a bulleted list of your major accomplishments within this position, which demonstrates your ability to produce results in this role.

FinanceSoft Corporation, Los Angeles, California     2010 – present

Senior Sales Manager

Directed sales force of over 250 account managers, regional managers, and sales representatives to develop and deliver marketing campaigns for $8M financial software publisher. Established quotas and managed performance to meet sales goals of $3M.

·   Assigned and trained cross-functional teams to communicate coordinated marketing messages.

·   Negotiated strategic partnerships with computer manufacturers to pre-load software onto financial systems prior to installation at customer sites which resulted in a 15% increase in overall sales.

·   Employed intranet resources to support field sales activities and post-sales customer service.

·   Designed strategy to encourage customer adoption of product updates, increasing sales to existing accounts by 62%.


Consider the following example, “Analyzed declining sales and developed a campaign to increase orders by 30% in less than one month.” This statement describes the situation or challenge you faced (declining sales), the Action you took (developed a campaign), and the Benefit of your actions (a 30% increase in orders). Always Quantify or Qualify accomplishments and achievements described in your Action-Benefit Statement.



When you are quantifying results, consider the impact of your work in measurable terms and include the numbers, percents, dollars, values and other measurements of success that represent your experience in the best possible light:  


Good:                      Supervised a large project covering multiple territories. Effectively managed the project and consistently grew profits.


Better:                   Ten years experience managing projects across multiple territories on the East coast. Effectively managed P&L of $10 million business unit. Consistently generated 30-35% gross profit.




Good:                      Designed electronic equipment.


Better:                   Prepared complete, precise, accurate designs of precision electronic equipment using the latest CAD/CAM software, which resulted in a 25% reduction in overall design flaws.

Communicating Skills, Job Responsibilities, and Accomplishments

Employers want to have confidence that you will be successful in the position before they hire you. When reviewing your resume, employers are asking the following questions:  Do you possess the necessary skills to perform the required work? Have you had similar responsibilities or performed comparable work in previous positions? Do you have a demonstrated record of achieving results and the capability make a positive impact in your role?

Ask yourself what kind of person the company needs and what the employer would hope to see in a qualified applicant. Review as many advertisements of your job target as possible and discuss the requirements of a typical position with hiring managers beforehand to ensure that your resume effectively demonstrates these abilities.

Your Skills

Your skills are the essence of your qualifications and encompass your abilities, capabilities, acquired knowledge, and personal characteristics. Including relevant skills demonstrates to prospective employers you have the tools needed to perform well in the job. Use concrete examples of how you used skills to solve problems or create opportunities and emphasize those skills that are the most relevant to the job you are applying for.

Insider Tip:  Consider emphasizing the skills you possess that you enjoy using and downplay those capabilities you would prefer not to use again.

Your Job Responsibilities

Your job responsibilities are the tasks you have performed using your skills and they tell a prospective employer that you have carried out the functions of the job before. Describe the tasks you performed, the products or projects you were involved with, the responsibilities you were given, the interaction you had with co-workers and the roles you played. Give the employer an idea of what you did on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Insider Tip:  Many inexperienced job seekers limit their resume to only listing the job duties performed at each job. However, employers are looking for evidence that you can apply your skills and abilities in ways that add value to the company. The best way to demonstrate your skills and job responsibilities is through action-oriented accomplishment and achievement statements.

Your Accomplishments

Accomplishments demonstrate how you have used your skills and abilities to achieve success and produce positive results. An accomplishment can be any task you performed that provided a tangible benefit for the company. The best accomplishment statements describe how you added value by increasing efficiency, saving time, saving money, or contributing to the bottom line. Accomplishments should be succinct, measurable and results-oriented Action-Benefit Statements that demonstrate your success. Use concrete examples, situations and stories about your accomplishments and how you have achieved results.

Insider Tip:  You probably have your own list of significant accomplishments, but consider browsing ResumeMaker’s sample resumes for examples of other accomplishments. After reviewing these samples, you may consider updating or enhancing your list of accomplishments.

Identifying Your Accomplishments

The following questions will help you identify your most impressive achievements. When answering each question, think about challenges you faced, how you overcame those challenges, and the positive result of your actions.

Questions for Accomplishments


·   How have you increased revenues or reduced costs? Have you increased productivity or improved profits? Have you ever increased the quality or value of a product or service?

·   What did you design, initiate, create, or manage successfully? Make these statements more exciting by including the benefit your work provided.

·   What situations did you face that required a resolution? How did you resolve a specific crisis or overcome a particular challenge? What was the impact on the organization?

·   What daily tasks or routine activities did you perform? What skills did you use effectively in previous ? Consider including tasks that seem obvious or mundane by turning them into Action-Benefit Statements.

·   Were you ever promoted? Did you ever receive special recognition, honors or awards? What distinguishes you from your co-workers?

·   Have you ever made recommendations, to your previous employer, which were implemented? Have you ever been responsible for the creation of new policies or procedures? Have you done anything to make a process more efficient?

·   Were you ever responsible for training or advising a new employee on certain procedures or programs? Did previous co-workers ever ask for your advice or opinion on a certain subject?

·   What were you constantly praised for by managers in past performance evaluations? For each job you’ve held, can you list five contributions of which you were most proud?

·   What did you value in each job? What about your previous position was rewarding or gratifying? What were the best moments in each job?

·   What are your greatest strengths or personal characteristics? What is it about your dedication, style of work, or attention to detail that adds value to an organization?

Additionally, consider asking yourself questions about your personal and educational background. This is especially important if you are changing careers or are a recent graduate. What are the most significant accomplishments and achievements of your career? Have you ever received an award, certificate or commendation from any group? Are you a community leader or are you involved with a local school or organization? Have you received an academic award or merit scholarship? However, remember to include subject matter that supports your candidacy for the position and shows you are focused on and committed to your career.

Choosing Job Titles Carefully

Most job seekers undersell their abilities by labeling themselves with job titles that do not accurately reflect the job responsibilities they performed in a particular role. When choosing a job title, it may be more truthful to use a title that genuinely reflects your job duties and responsibilities than to use your actual title. Don’t oversell your role, but don’t undersell it either. Always give yourself an appropriate title based on your responsibilities.

For example, if your official title was Account Manager, but the true nature of your work involved managing all of the company’s national accounts, then it would be more appropriate to use a title such as National Account Manager. Additionally, if you are looking for a career in a specialized field, make sure that your resume communicates your expertise. If you label yourself as a Software Engineer, most employers will not understand your specialty. If you were really a Senior Level Java Programmer, then list yourself with this title. Instead of Attorney, it may be more appropriate to identify yourself as a Patent Litigation Attorney and use accomplishment statements that support your job title.

Additionally, a job title means different things at different companies. A Vice-President of a small company might have the same basic responsibilities as a Division Manager in a larger company.  In some companies, an Administrative Assistant might perform Office Manager duties.

Insider Tip:  If you are changing careers or your previous job titles do not reflect the nature of the work you are seeking, then consider replacing unrelated job titles with skill headings that reflect the true nature of work you have performed and are more relevant to your targeted career.


For example, if you perform sales functions in your current position but are seeking a career in marketing, then tap into the marketing responsibilities of your existing position and use a skill heading that is reflective of your marketing experience.


Instead of:


Job Title                Sales Manager:  Oversaw 25 employees in sales and marketing department. Effectively launched sales and marketing campaigns to increase revenue 30% in three years.




Skill Heading      Marketing Management: Oversaw product marketing department with 25 employees comprising product marketing managers, brand managers and account managers. Launched 12 effective marketing campaigns, which increased revenue 30% in three years.


Note: During the interview, refer to previous jobs using your actual job titles. You can explain your reasons for restating your job title when you have a chance to reinforce your qualifications for the position in person.

Multiple Jobs with the Same Company

Employers look for a candidate who can demonstrate career advancement in the same, or a closely related, field or industry. A detailed record of promotions identifies an employee who is able to manage increasing amounts of responsibility. Emphasize your promotions within the same company, highlighting additional qualifications demonstrated in your previous roles.

List each position you’ve held with the company in reverse chronological order as a separate entry on your resume, repeating the company name with each entry. List dates (in years) for each position. This focuses the reader on your increasing levels of responsibility, illustrates your ambition and shows that you’re an employee that can be promoted.

Senior Software Engineer, Highland Corporation     2002 – 2004

·   Completed all phases of multi-year project on time and under budget.

·   Conducted programming needs analyses and formulated strategies.

·   Effected early completion of major project, resulting in immediate savings of $100k.


Software Developer, Highland Corporation     2000 – 2002

·   Compiled system specifications to establish scope of major projects.

·   Met programming needs with existing resources within planned timeframes.

·   Revitalized existing Delphi 5 customer-database via invoice module integration.

If you want to maximize the reader’s interest in your most recent position or if previous positions within the same company are unrelated to your career objective, then it is preferable to list your combined experience for the employer under one entry, using your most recent or most relevant job title.

Senior Software Engineer, Highland Corporation     2000 – 2004

·   Completed all phases of multi-year project on time and under budget.

·   Conducted programming needs analyses and formulated strategies.

·   Affected early completion of major project, resulting in immediate savings of $100k.

·   Compiled system specifications to establish scope of major projects.

·   Met programming needs with existing resources within planned timeframes.

·   Revitalized existing Delphi 5 customer-database via invoice module integration.

Emphasizing Your Most Relevant Experience

Focus the reader on your most impressive experience and qualifications. Keep in mind that this experience may not always come from your “most recent” experience. If you are moving to a similar position at a new company or advancing within your career field, your most relevant experience will probably be your most recent job. Provide the greatest amount of detail for your most recent job, and less information about each job as you go back in your work history.

If you are changing careers or are returning to a past career, your most relevant experience may come from a previous job listing. In this case, provide the greatest amount of detail when describing this experience. Consider bolding or underlining text to emphasize important information from previous careers and consider pulling your most impressive accomplishments, skills and capabilities into a powerful Summary or Accomplishments section closer to the top of your resume.

Common Writing Mistakes to Avoid

When writing your Experience section, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

·        Including reasons for leaving. Explaining reasons for leaving a former employer on your resume is never advisable. Even if reasons for leaving can be presented in a positive light, it is more appropriate to discuss this topic at the interview.

·        Noting unrelated experience. If your career history contains experience that is unrelated to your career goal, and does not directly substantiate your qualifications for the position, then eliminate it or use a Functional resume that downplays your work history and focuses on transferable skills.

·        Underselling your abilities. Avoid labeling yourself with a job title that does not accurately reflect your legitimate job responsibilities. Choose a descriptive job title that reflects your actual abilities and contributions.

·        Overlooking accomplishments. Employers want more than a boring list of job duties. They want to hear about your achievements and contributions. They search for candidates that can communicate not only what tasks they can perform, but how their performance can be translated into measurable results.

Insider Tips for Changing Careers

Your Experience section should only describe how your skills and abilities are applicable to the job you are seeking. Analyze your job target and determine the necessary skills and abilities the position requires, then use your background for examples of how you have demonstrated these skills and abilities. The following are tips to use when writing this information:

·        Remove or rephrase job duties and skills that pertain only to your previous career.

·        Remove industry language and jargon that pertain only to your previous career.

·        Identify and communicate transferable skills that are valuable to your new career.

·        By using examples, reinforce that you adapt quickly and are a fast learner.

·        Emphasize your qualifications for your next career, and downplay unrelated experience.

The same skills are often used in many different careers. A useful skill for most careers is the “Ability to Communicate Effectively,” both verbally and in writing. Language and computer skills are abilities that cross over well into most other occupations. “Negotiation,” “Management,” “Leadership,” “Critical Thinking,” and “Problem Solving” apply to most careers. When switching to a new career, you need to redefine your experience and skills to meet a new set of challenges.

Job seekers involved in a significant career change choose a Functional resume, where the most interesting and compelling reasons to hire you appear in various sections of your resume. In this case, your Experience section should de-emphasize unrelated experience by including only the most basic information about your previous employment, such as job titles, company names and dates. With a Functional resume, you focus on selling your qualifications throughout the rest of your resume and downplay your employment history altogether.



Accountant Assistant

Highland Corporation

2003 – 2004

/ Sales

Walton Bookstore

2002 – 2003

Francis Architects

2001 – 2002


Insider Tips for Consulting, Freelance or Temporary Workers

If you have worked for a company or several companies as a consultant or through a temporary/staffing agency, you should list the actual company’s name as your employer on your resume (unless listing the staffing or consulting agency would be more impressive to the reader).

If you have worked for several high profile companies and want to highlight your achievements within each company, consider combining these employers under the same entry. This strategy allows you to demonstrate your success at each company, but eliminates potential gaps in your work history.


Account Management, Business Development


For FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, Business Development Department

– Created strong market penetration and established several accounts through the development of a new marketing campaign and strategy.

– Facilitated communications with all new and existing clients for improved business relations.


For HIGHLAND CORPORATION, Outside Sales Division

– Handled the $5 million rental product line and asset management for the entire business unit consisting of 7 locations throughout Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

– Reviewed daily business operations, fleet inventory, cash management, customer service and accounts receivable.

If you performed consulting work for several companies whose names are less significant, then list your accomplishments under a general job title that reflects the nature of your work.

Business Development Consultant                                                   2002 to 2004

Created strong market penetration and established several accounts through the development of a new marketing campaign/strategy. Organized and participated in several trade shows and Chamber of Commerce activities to increase sponsorship/exhibit opportunities and to reach new markets. Handled the $5 million rental product line and asset management for the entire business unit consisting of seven locations throughout Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

Insider Tips for Students and Recent Graduates

Students and recent graduates with little or no real work experience find writing the Experience section of their resume especially challenging. However, even recent graduates should be able to develop a list of experiences from various paid or non-paid , student jobs, extracurricular activities, and other volunteer work. Consider the skills you developed, the experience you gained and the accomplishments of your work. If this is not enough, find a way to use elements of past work experience to include as relevant skills in your job search. For instance, managing a newspaper route or watching the neighbor’s children demonstrates that you are reliable and can accept responsibility.

Insider Tips for Interns and Volunteers

When listing volunteer work or internships within your career field, use the name of the company where you interned or volunteered as the employer on your resume; and describe skills, experience and accomplishments as you would any other job. The fact that this work may have been unpaid is irrelevant and you do not need to list these roles as volunteer or intern work. The primary message to deliver to future employers is that you’ve gained valuable knowledge of a particular industry, attended regular industry meetings, interacted with professionals in the career field, learned to speak the industry language, and developed the skills you’ll need in your next position.

Insider Tips when Returning to the Workforce

Describing your past work experience following several years out of the job market poses a challenge for those re-entering the work force. Adding this information to your resume may cause a prospective employer to question whether you possess the necessary, up-to-date skills and can compete on the same level as other candidates. However, leaving this information off your resume introduces a noticeable employment gap that might raise further doubts or concerns.

If you have held part-time jobs, worked out of your home, or volunteered during this time, then consider an entry on your resume that reflects “Self-Employed” or “Volunteer Work.” However, it has become more common to list experience during your time out of the job market on your resume, just as any other corporate job. For example, if you were out of the job market because you were a stay-at-home parent, choose a job title or heading such as “Full-Time Parent” or “Domestic Management.” Then, evaluate the transferable skills and accomplishments in your domestic role and rephrase this experience in a way that demonstrates your value to an employer.

Domestic Life Transferable Skills


Planning • Organizing • Scheduling • Conflict Resolution • Problem Solving  • Coordinating • Counseling • Resourcefulness • Crisis Management • Leadership • Purchasing • Budget Management • Communication Skills • Negotiation/Mediation Skills • Inventory Management • Customer Service

Be sure to include experience and skills that you have gained through active participation in community and school events, volunteer programs, alumni associations, and religious or social organizations.

Insider Tips for Inmates and Ex-Inmates

Searching for a job can be more difficult for an ex-inmate for two reasons. First, you may be uncomfortable discussing the details of your arrest and conviction. This will make your interviewer uncomfortable as well. Second, the time during which you were incarcerated and out of the traditional workforce will raise a red flag on your resume. Resume reviewers are wary of time periods that are not covered on your resume.

So, if you are an ex-inmate or have lapses in your work history due to time served in a correctional facility, how should you address these concerns? First and foremost, be honest. Show that you acknowledge your past and have turned your life around. Use the fact that you are overcoming greater obstacles than typical job applicants to your advantage. By serving time, explain how you are more committed to being a productive and law-abiding member of society.

On your resume, include prison jobs that you held and any training that you completed. Treat these activities as you would traditional employment and training. Use your prison experience to show your progress in returning to a productive life. Landing a job is a vital step in rejoining society.

Depending on the type of position you are seeking, it is common to limit the information on your resume to relevant positions in the recent past. If your incarceration was in your distant past, you can omit it as well as any irrelevant positions that you may have held in the distant past. If directly asked about a criminal history on an application or in an interview, you must disclose this information. Also, if the employer is going to conduct a background check, it is in your best interest for you to disclose your background before the employer discovers it. Use your work history since your incarceration to show that you have turned your life around.

When you are interviewing for a position, talk briefly about your past to reassure the employer that you are being honest. Refusing to discuss your past when asked a direct question will lead the employer to believe that you are hiding something. Think of the questions that an employer is likely to ask you, and practice your answers. Becoming comfortable discussing your past will take practice. Ask friends, family, or colleagues to help you rehearse your answers. The goal is to honestly address the question and then steer the conversation to focus on your ability to make a meaningful contribution to the employer.

Do not lie about your history. Employers routinely conduct background checks that will reveal arrests and convictions on your record. It is much better for you to inform the prospective employer about your background than for the employer to discover it in your background check. Being honest and forthright will show the employer that you can be trusted.

Experience Examples

Francis Architects – Duluth, TX                                                                       2002 – Present

Chief Financial Officer


Member of senior staff with full responsibility for strategic planning and leadership of all financial functions including A/R, A/P, payroll, billing, project reporting, cash management, financial statement production and distribution, tax planning, and preparation of operating and capital budgets.


·   Provided instrumental growth; grew revenues $3M to $15M and employees 63 to 142.

·   Established credit and collection policy, reducing debt/equity ratio from 5.1 to 2.8.

·   Refinanced long-term debt saving $32,000 over term and developed debt strategy.

·   Reduced billing cycle by 11 days creating more positive cash flow.

·   Cross-trained staff for effective backups. Created more supportive team environment.

·   Selected PC technology and software for general accounting, financial reporting, financial analysis, and purchasing that resulted in tremendous savings. Reduced labor and production time.

·   Participated in fee negotiations with clients resulting in 400% revenue increase for firm.

West Coast Operational Development – San Francisco, CA                            2002  – Present

National Sales Manager

·   Developed a top-performing sales team, focused on achieving and surpassing company goals and customer expectations for this Fortune 1000 retail company.

·   Developed and initiated innovative sales, marketing, and customer service strategies resulting in an increased profit margin of 130%.

·   Inspired teams to achieve greater than 42% sales over quota 6 years in a row.

·   Won “Sales Masters of the Year” company-wide team effort award 3 times in 6 years.

·   Designed and developed employee empowerment and motivation programs improving retention rates of sales specialists by 50%.

·   Identified and implemented sales achievement initiatives to increase performance and quotas.

·   Skilled in Account Management & Retention, Proposal & Presentation, Strategic Planning, Team, Leadership, Business Development, and Customer Liaison & Service

Bingham Computing International – Dallas, TX                                                  2002 – Present

Senior Quality Assurance Engineer, Lead QA

Directed all methodology processes in a systems software and communications development environment, while simultaneously propelling quality assurance advancement on leading Solve/NetworkIT/Unicenter product lines.  Accomplished on time, under budget delivery of 7 releases during 4 months, complying with all major standards. Achieved management recognition as “Division of the Year.” Instrumental in the successful transition of certification from ISO 9002-1994 to ISO 9001-2000. Saved 20% of costs associated with software testing. Formulated new “Defect Prevention” strategy reengineering existing testing and inspection processes.

ARROW INDUSTRIES – New Haven, CT                                                           2002 – Present

Controller / Operations Manager


Operations Management

Increased profit margin by 11% by streamlining office personnel. Generated revenue increase of 23% due to regional integration of tax planning. Implemented and evaluated Safety Committee for compliance with state and federal regulations. Designed employee benefits package including health, dental, life, and long-term disability.


Financial Management

Maintained general ledger in all aspects including month-end closing, analysis of general ledger accounts, and month-end accruals. Prepared and filed S-Corporation returns including 1120S and CT-1120S on a yearly basis. Prepared and filed CT Sales and Use Tax return on a monthly basis. Prepared and filed payroll tax returns including 940, 941, CT-941, and UC-5A. Developed cash flow projection report for corporate funds.


Account Management, Business Development


For FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, Business Development Department

– Created strong market penetration and established several accounts through the development of a new marketing campaign and strategy.

– Facilitated communications with all new and existing clients for improved business relations.


For HIGHLAND CORPORATION, Outside Sales Division

– Handled the $5 million rental product line and asset management for the entire business unit consisting of 7 locations throughout Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

– Reviewed daily business operations, fleet inventory, cash management, customer service and accounts receivable.



Accountant Assistant                                        Highland Corporation                   2013 – 2014

Cashier / Sales                                                Walton Bookstore                               2012 – 2013

Customer Service Representative                     Francis Architects                        2011 – 2012

Supplies Distributor, Facilities Crew

2003 – Present

Cook County Correctional Facility, Chicago, IL

Delivered supplies and materials to various departments and locations throughout the institution. Drove small trucks, delivery vans, forklifts, powered hand trucks, and motorized carts. Monitored inventory and completed tracking paperwork.

·   Implemented safety rules/regulations to ensure public safety and safety of driver and equipment. Completed monthly Vehicle Inspection Report for each unit of equipment, which includes inspecting the vehicle for defects and submitting reports indicating condition. Affirmed that cargo is loaded properly so it will not shift during transport.

·   Received award for safety. Applied professional training, knowledge, and regulations of commercial driving techniques and skill in maneuvering vehicles in difficult situations such as narrow passageways, parking lots and delivery dock areas. Complied with all federal, state and local regulations concerning safe vehicle operation.

·   Performed routine troubleshooting and maintenance on institution vehicles.

Experience Questions & Answers

Should I include months in the dates of employment on my resume?


The recommended resume format for business professionals and executives shows only the range of years you’ve worked in each job. Displaying the years of employment without months produces a more concise resume and enables an employer to scan your work history quickly. ResumeMaker allows you to enter months in the date fields but, by default, most resume styles only display the years. To display months on your resume, use the Date Format option in the Resume Style dialog box.


What if I have little or no experience?


If you have little or no job experience, then the best advice is to get some. Consider volunteering, interning or using extracurricular activities as a means to obtain the experience you’ll need to qualify for the job.


If you have only held one position within your career field, then use this experience to its full advantage. Divide this single job title into an inventory of functional areas of experience. For example, an Accounting Assistant position provides the following functional areas of experience: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Financial Statements, Customer Service and Payroll Processing. Describe your capabilities, knowledge and accomplishments under each functional area.


If you have a college degree and no job experience, then consider including activities from your educational background as experience to strengthen your resume. For example, include relevant information on class projects, term papers, lab research, study groups and extracurricular activities that demonstrate the skills, accomplishments and personal characteristics that are important to prospective employers.

Help for Job Seekers with Limited Experience


  • What experience did you gain from unpaid activities, student jobs, and extracurricular activities?
  • What skills do you posses from hobbies, community service, campus activities and odd jobs?
  • What personal characteristics demonstrate your qualifications for the position?
  • Have you performed any volunteer work or assisted in the family business?
  • How can you reposition and translate transferable skills from previous jobs?
  • Remember to include a skills section that promotes your capabilities. Your experience can come from anywhere – writing research reports for school, using computers at home, working with the public, even supporting a local charity fund-raiser.

  • Skills and Abilities:
    • Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop, Flash, HTML, Internet
    • Performed research studies, processed information and developed conceptual models.
    • Wrote detailed reports and edited information based on feedback.
    • Successfully handled customer inquires in professional manner.

What if there are large gaps in my work history?


Most minor gaps in your employment record can be concealed using a year only format when listing your experience (2001-2002). Additionally, try selecting a resume style that makes dates less obvious on your resume. A style where dates of employment appear in-line with other text or at the end of paragraphs makes dates more difficult to scan and gaps are less obvious.


If your employment gap extends more than one year, you may want to consider switching to a Functional resume, which highlights your skills and accomplishments and de-emphasizes the chronology of your work history.


In either case, it is always beneficial to determine how to put a positive spin about your leave of absence for your resume and for the interview — Foreign Travel, Independent Study, Military Experience, Household Management – and consider what new skills you acquired or experience you gained that would be of value to your future employer.

What if my career history shows no progression?


If your resume shows that you have held the same position for many years and you feel that this apparent lack of career progression is hindering your ability to be asked to an interview, then consider dividing your role(s) into different segments and list these roles as separate jobs with a growing level of responsibility – even if within the same company, under the same job title, it is likely that your skills and abilities have developed, and this should be reflected in your resume.

                                Staff Accountant III                                             2003-2004              

                                Staff Accountant II                                              2001-2003

                                Staff Accountant I                                               1998-2001

What if I am considered overqualified?


You do not have to include everything in your resume, only those things that make you appear qualified for your job target. List the last 10-15 years experience, summarize any additional experience that is relevant to your job target in a separate section called Additional Experience and do not include dates of employment for this section. If your Ph.D. makes you look overqualified, leave it off your resume. Another option is creating a Functional resume. Include only those skills and abilities relevant to the job for which you are applying. This will emphasize the best reasons for hiring you, and de-emphasize skills and job titles that make you appear overqualified.


Also, keep in mind that if an employer thinks you are overqualified, it usually means that they don’t think they can afford you or they don’t think you will be challenged in the position. In either case, if you feel the job and company is a good fit, address these concerns and reassure the employer that you are the best candidate.

Should I emphasize my job title or employer?


Deciding whether to place extra emphasis on your job titles or company names depends on which you think will be more impressive to your future employer. If you’ve held a minor position at a well-known company, then make sure the company name stands out. On the other hand, if your job title is impressive and the company is relatively small and unknown, then highlight your job titles. Either way is fine, just be consistent in your use of bolding and italics throughout your resume. In other words, if you highlight a company name in one section, all other company names in your Experience section should contain the same style.

How many years of experience should I list?


It is recommended that you only describe work experience from the last 10 to 15 years on your resume (15 years if you are at the senior management/executive level). However, if the responsibilities and accomplishments from previous positions further back in your history are especially relevant to your job target, then summarize this experience in a new section called Additional Relevant Experience and leave off dates of employment.

What if I have worked for the same employer for many years?


If you have held the same job throughout your career with the company, then divide your experience into various levels of the same career field (Staff Accountant I, II, III etc.) and include each of your positions as a separate entry on your resume, listing the same company name each time, in order to show career progression.


If you have held several positions within the same company, each with a growing level of responsibility within your career field, then list each position as a separate entry. This demonstrates your ability to produce results, achieve success and be rewarded for your hard work. Whenever possible, you should try to communicate promotions and career progression throughout your resume.


If you have made several lateral moves within the same company, and most of your previous job titles would represent unrelated and irrelevant experience, then include just one entry on your resume for this company, using the job title from the role that is most applicable to the career you are currently seeking.

Should I emphasize my experience or skills?


When deciding whether to emphasize your experience or skills, first consider which of these qualifications would be more relevant to the job you are applying for. If you have significant experience in the role you are seeking, you want to highlight your experience and your ability to achieve results through the job related functions you have performed. If you do not have direct experience in your job target, then you will want to emphasize your skills and de-emphasize unrelated experience.

What if I have been self-employed?


An employer may question how well a candidate who has been self-employed will fit in a different work environment. In your entrepreneurial activities, identify the specific strengths that qualify you for the position and address any employer concerns at the interview or in a cover letter.

How do I list my experience if I’m changing careers?


For Career Changers, you will need to focus on transferable skills, or skills you’ve developed in your previous employment or personal life, that you can bring to your new job. First, analyze the requirements of your targeted job.  Based on the job description, what skills are needed? Writing skills? Computer skills? Organizational skills?  Create a list of all the required skills.  Then, for each item, review your employment and personal history for tasks you have performed that used similar skills.


For instance, a career as a Receptionist requires skills such as communicating with customers, analyzing customers’ needs, and handling situations through decision-making and problem solving. Your transferable skills might be Decision-Making, Interpersonal Communication, Customer Needs Analysis, and Problem Solving. You can use these same skills in many other careers.

How do I show a job that only lasted a few months?


At some point in your career, you are bound to accept a job that is not a good fit. If this is the case, and the rest of your resume is full of great accomplishments, relevant skills, and glowing references, then consider leaving this job off of your resume altogether. Use a year-only date format (2002-2004) in your Experience section to conceal the short-lived job. However, if your resume contains multiple short-term jobs, you will probably get better results with a Functional resume, which emphasizes your skills, abilities and accomplishments and de-emphasizes the chronology of your work history.

What if I’m too embarrassed to mention a job on my resume?


If a recent position or company in your work history embarrasses you, then include minimal details about the position and company on your resume. Prepare a statement identifying how you were able to learn from your experience and advance to a position more appropriate for your qualifications.


Alternatively, try a Functional resume that focuses on the experience you have relative to the job you are applying for and does not require a listing of previous jobs and employers.

Should I explain reasons for leaving previous employer?


Avoid explaining why you left a previous employer in your resume. Save this information for the actual interview. If you were fired, the real problem is what to do for a reference. Find someone you worked with that would be willing, and give his or her name and number as a reference. Also, try talking to the person who fired you to see if, in lieu of giving you a bad reference, they would be willing to provide you with a neutral reference instead.

What if I have held many different positions over the last several years?


If you have had a series of unrelated jobs that lasted less than a year, consider a Functional resume that focuses on your skills and abilities rather than your employment history. This will help you avoid looking like a job-hopper.


Additionally, try combining several employers under the same entry. This strategy allows you to demonstrate your success at each company, but eliminates potential gaps or inconsistencies in your work history.


Account Management, Business Development


For FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, Business Development Department

– Created strong market penetration and established several accounts through the development of a new marketing campaign and strategy.

– Facilitated communications with all new and existing clients for improved business relations.


For HIGHLAND CORPORATION, Outside Sales Division

– Handled the $5 million rental product line and asset management for the entire business unit consisting of 7 locations throughout Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.

– Reviewed daily business operations, fleet inventory, cash management, customer service and accounts receivable.

For temporary work, should I use the Company name or the Agency name?


It is generally more advisable to list the actual names of the companies you have worked for on your resume. However, if you have been working for many small, unknown companies during the same year through the Agency, then consider listing the name of the Temporary Agency as your employer. This will give the impression of stable, long-term employment.

Should I omit job titles if most of my work is freelance or consulting?


You should always include job titles that are descriptive of the work you were performing. This information is critical in the decision making process, and provides prospective employers, at a glance, with an idea of what your skill set is.

Should I include experience that is unrelated to the position I’m seeking?


You should only include information that is relevant to the job you are seeking.  If leaving out irrelevant positions means leaving large gaps in your employment history, then consider using a Functional format for your resume instead.  A Functional resume focuses on your skills and abilities rather than on employment history, and will allow you to highlight only your relevant experience.

What if I’m concerned about age discrimination?


It is not important to list all of your work experience in your resume. Generally, you only want to list the last 10 to 15 years of your experience. Also, even if your career reflects 25 years experience, use statements that break up this experience into manageable segments, such as “12 years experience managing and directing effective teams.”

What if most of my experience comes from when I was self-employed?


If you were self-employed, choose descriptive job titles that fit the responsibilities of your position and also fit within the career field you are seeking. In parenthesis next to your job title, you may add Self-Employed. Describe your skills and experience as you would any other job. In your cover letter, be sure to state that you can provide positive references from people you worked with while self-employed.

What if I left my career for several years to stay home?


If you held part-time jobs, worked out of your home, or volunteered for various organizations while you were at home, then consider an entry on your resume that reflects this work (Self-Employed or Volunteer Work). Otherwise, consider listing your domestic role on your resume just as any other corporate job, using the job title Full-Time Parent or skill heading Home Management. Evaluate the transferable skills and accomplishments in your domestic role and rephrase this experience in a way that demonstrates your value to a future employer. If necessary, try a Functional resume that focuses on your skills, abilities and accomplishments and downplays the chronology of your work history.

Should I use paragraphs or bulleted lists when describing my experience?


The most persuasive experience sections include a short paragraph that describes your overall role, outlines your most significant accomplishments, and offers some tangible information about the company itself. This paragraph is then followed by a bulleted list of major accomplishments for each position, which demonstrates your ability to produce results.

Should I include experience from summer jobs and internships?


As you advance in your career, you will want to phase out experience from summer jobs and internships. As soon as the skills and experience gained in these areas has been duplicated in your professional career, then consider eliminating these jobs from your resume.

Should I include school activities and academic accomplishments?


As you continue to gain experience in your career field, your school activities and academic accomplishments become less relevant. Generally, if you are a business professional with five or more years of experience within your career field, you will want to focus the reader’s attention on the experience and accomplishments from your career and less on your academic achievements. As you advance in your career, scale your information about school back to just the highlights.

What type of resume is best for someone who has been incarcerated?


Remember that the goal of a resume is to get you invited to a job interview. Details in your past that need explaining should be deferred to the interview. One way to defer this discussion is to use a Functional format for your resume. The Functional format highlights your skills and accomplishments while minimizing your work chronology.


Why is an employer interested in my criminal background?


Employers have several responsibilities when hiring a new employee. One responsibility is ensuring the safety of the workplace. Hiring someone who has been convicted of a violent crime could compromise the workplace. Another responsibility is the viability of the company. Hiring someone who has been convicted of a crime against an employer, such as embezzling, could compromise the company’s success. An employer’s questions are not meant to invade your privacy or intimidate you, but are intended to help the interviewer meet the company’s needs.