This section can have many different titles: employment history, career history, professional experience – but we suggest that you don’t call this section “work experience”. Work experience implies unpaid experience whilst at school or university.
Many times we are asked: should my resume be functional or chronological? Many employers in our Employer Survey said a big “NO” to functional resumes and prefer to see a chronological resume, clearly stating your career history and what your achievements or main accountabilities were for recent positions. Indeed, many employers stated that when they receive a functional resume they immediately assumed that the applicant had something to hide. The functional resume – on the whole – is generally associated with long term unemployed.
Your history should be listed in reverse chronological order (ie: your most recent or current employment first), and include the duration in each position, the name of the employer, your job title, main accountabilities, and any quantifiable key achievements. Folks in the IT sector, and job seekers whose role evolves around projects, should also be listing key projects / scope and the environment they worked in. If you have any job gaps greater than three months, then this should be explained.
It is essential that this section of your resume demonstrates your key strengths in accordance with the requirements for the vacancy being applied for. It shouldn’t be rushed! If you’re applying for, say, a $60,000 pa position, don’t you think you should be spending the time in marketing your suitability? Half an hour just won’t get the result. Putting in the time and effort ensures you put your best foot forward – by doing so, you could be obtaining a greater position with a higher salary.
Which brings me to the issue of achievements. “Successfully served customers in a professional manner” isn’t an achievement. An employer believes this is a “given” in your position – in fact, you most probably wouldn’t be employed in a customer service oriented position if you weren’t serving people professionally. Achievements should be either:
a) quantifiable; or
b) of significance (tangible achievements which cannot be quantified but are great, nonetheless).
Look at your achievements objectively. Some of them shouldn’t be listed as such, whilst others could be included in your list of main accountabilities. Others most probably need quantifying to give them some “oomph”, thus giving you an edge over your competition.
For instance, if you have stated that you have increased revenue over a three month period, this means absolutely nothing! You have increased revenue by how much? (Eg: you can use either % or $ terms; however, % terms can sometimes be better, considering employer confidentiality.) And by increasing the revenue, you implemented what specifically? What did you do to achieve it? By increasing the revenue, did you achieve or exceed your budget? And if yes, by how much? These are questions which will crop up when a hiring manager is going through your resume. Always remember this!
The requirements for each person differ enormously – after all, everyone is unique with their own various circumstances. Differing information and scenarios can be quite extensive.