Work experience is often the most important – and longest – part of your resume because it shows employers how you might perform in their open position. It is critical to provide relevant information to illustrate how your past experiences relate to the job you’re applying for. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about this section.
Is work experience or education listed first on a resume?
If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, then you should list education first. It is also fine to list education first if you have graduated within the past year and are still seeking employment in your area of study, or if you have less than two years of work experience.
Everyone else – your work experience goes before your education section. Within work experience, everything should be listed in “reverse chronological” order – meaning most recent job is listed first, then previous jobs follow in order of recency.
What information is included in my work experience?
Generally speaking, you should account for the past 10 years of work experience. It is fine to exclude side jobs or internships, as long as doing so doesn’t create a gap in your work history. It is also fine to include relevant jobs from over 10 years ago as long as your resume doesn’t exceed two pages in total.
For each work experience included, you need the following information:
- Job Title
- Duration of the job, indicating both months and years
- Employer name
- Employer location (city and state/country are sufficient)
- Tasks and accomplishments (aim for 3-7 bullet points per job, depending on its significance or duration)
Take the time to highlight the responsibilities and achievements most relevant to the job you’re applying for. See our templates for detailed examples of work experience sections.
Where do internships go on a resume?
Internships can be included in your work experience if they are relevant or if you have not had many formal jobs. If you want to highlight your internships because they are very relevant and/or renowned, you can put them under a separate heading called “internships.”
If you have sufficient work experience, you can exclude internships or list them underneath the affiliated program of study.
What if I have no work experience?
In this case, you will want to highlight other significant activities within the “experience” section of your resume. For example, you should include any and all internships, practicums or co-ops as work experience, even if they are not directly related to the position.
Other ideas for your experience section include:
- Relevant and/or intensive university projects or research
- Freelance or contract work
- Volunteer roles
Including these experiences will indicate that you have not been idle, and they can showcase skills in a para-professional capacity. Additionally, you will need to fill more of your resume with education, workshops, additional activities or specific classes in order to demonstrate your competencies.
What if I have had many jobs in a short time?
This situation arises for many different reasons: you work for a staffing agency that places you in temporary positions, you are a freelancer with short-term gigs, or you took on multiple part-time or side jobs to supplement income. In most situations, you can bundle jobs and highlight the most relevant tasks or accomplishments underneath them. Here are some examples:
Restaurant A, Restaurant B, and Restaurant C
June 2017 – Present
June 2017 – Present
June 2017 – Present
If you have primarily held many short-term jobs, you can also opt for a functional resume, where you highlight certain skills and examples instead of listing out each job.
What if I have a gap in my work history
A hole in your resume should only exist if you were truly not working for a while, but it doesn’t need to be an issue. Many people find themselves unemployed and job searching for brief periods, so a gap that is less than 3 months does not necessarily need to be accounted for.
A gap of 3+ months should always be explained your cover letter, so an employer is not left guessing. Many people have these gaps in their resume, and there are many good reasons for this: extended travels, continuing education, sabbatical, family care. Assume that you will get questions about this and always be open and honest.
As a reminder, it is a good idea to make sure you include other activities like volunteer work, temporary work or education programs during this period.
As a professional recruiter, I have over 10 years of experience helping candidates find work with businesses that match their skills, personalities and goals. Here on Resume Supply, I share some of the key things I have learned over my career to help job seekers with resumes, applications and interviews.