Most résumés include a Work Experience Section in which you give your employment history. Remember even if you don’t have employment related to your field, you should include some kind of employment or volunteer experience. Your potential employer is looking to see if you have the maturity and professionalism that comes from job experiences.
Include the following in this section:
1.) the title or position you held,
2.) the name of the company,
3.) the city and state of the company,
4.) the dates of your employment,
5.) the tasks you performed,
6.) and the skills you learned and developed through completing the tasks.
The most common error in this section is to inadequately develop the tasks and skills as they relate to the specific audience you are targeting.
Here’s an example. This student worked on a farm that sold plants, but she doesn’t want to do this when she graduates. Here’s what she wrote originally.
Patchwork Farm Burlington, VT (Summer, 2008)
Cashier and general worker.
As you can see, this is concise and that’s important, but it isn’t developed enough to be relevant. (Also, the formatting could use a little work.) As an employer is skimming your résumé, he/she is thinking, “why should I care?” Keep in mind if your tasks aren’t related to what you hope to do in the future, you need to help your employer understand why they are relevant.
To accomplish this, marry your tasks to skills you know your employer wants. Consider this revision:
Cashier Summer 2008
Patchwork Farm, Burlington, VT
• Developed strong mental mathematics skills through tallying customer sales receipts
• Participated in teamwork and problem solving to install custom flower beds
• Demonstrated integrity and responsibility in taking cash receipts to the bank
In this example, the tasks are combined with skills that are transferable. The potential employer can more easily understand the relevance of your experience as a cashier to his/her vacancy. The key to accomplishing this connection is to study the job description and make this section relevant to your specific audience.
As I always say, there’s only one rule to writing your résumé; it has to be error free. But there are many ways to increase the likelihood that an employer will select you for an interview. Crafting this section with your audience in mind is one of them.
This week I leave you with a humorous note of something I found on a résumé. A student wrote that he was receiving a Bachelorette Degree (not a bachelor’s degree). Luckily he hadn’t sent it out yet. Proofread carefully!