Two of the most important sections of the resume are experience and education. What a job seeker decides to include in these sections can have a huge impact on getting an interview or not. In this post, we will discuss experience and education in terms of resume writing for job seekers. We will also use a fictional job seeker Mary Cessna to point out specific examples.
This is the part of the resume which lists prior job experience. Generally speaking, this part of your resume should only include work for which you were paid. If you are new to the job market, or seeking employment after a very long time at one job, this can be a very daunting part of the resume to write. The first thing to think about, when writing this section of your resume, is what type of formatting you will use in this section—chronological, functional, or mixed. With chronological listing, you will start with your most recent job and move backwards in time. With functional formatting, you list the most relevant job you’ve had, and then list other employment based on the decreasing relevance of each job. As the name suggests, mixed formatting combines the two. Because mixed formatting can seem very scattered, and because it can be confusing to determine the relevance of employment, we’re going to use chronological formatting in this course. Whichever formatting decision you make, be sure to apply it consistently throughout your resume.
For each job listed in this section, you should include the same information, in the same order. If you choose to use bullet points, use them consistently—each instance of bullet point usage should include the same number of points, if possible. For each job, be sure to list all of the following: The name of the company; the city and state where the job was located; the beginning and ending dates of the job; your job title; and your responsibilities at the job. When deciding how many jobs to list, you should either list the most recent three jobs you’ve had, or account for the past ten years.
Mary Cessna might write her Experience section like this: “2001-Present: Office Manager, Smithfield Accounting, Anytown, New York.” Mary might choose to have three bullet points, and she might have them say things like, “Maintain a comprehensive filing system for client records; Manage, route, and distribute communications to and from 75 internal employees; Create spreadsheets, databases, letters and reports using computer software.” You may notice that Mary’s bullet points are all written in the present tense. This is only appropriate because Mary is still working at this job.
Even though Mary has accounted for all of her time over the past ten years, let’s say that she wants to add a second job to her resume. Mary should only do this if the second job was something very relevant to the position for which she is now applying. For example, let’s say that, during college, Mary worked part-time as a tax preparer during tax seasons. When Mary lists this job, she should use bullet points to relate that job to the job for which she is currently applying. For example, she might list the following: “1998-2001: Tax Preparer, Blockhead Taxes; New York, New York.” Her bullet points might look like this: “Prepared tax returns for a wide variety of clients; Filed tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service; Maintained a consistent pace of serving 12 clients per 8-hour shift.” You can see that Mary has kept her bullet points consistently written in the past tense, and she has listed bullet points that will be relevant to her current employer—especially if her most recent job didn’t include the relevant duties of preparing and filing tax returns.
Obviously, the purpose of this section of your resume is to communicate your educational history to your potential employer. When writing your educational history, make sure to include the following information: The school you attended; the dates you attended; the certification or degree you attained; and any special awards or honors you received. It is also appropriate to include any professional certifications or training that you have received within the Education section of your resume—including courses from TeachUcomp!
Mary Cessna’s Education section might look like this: “2009-2011: TeachUcomp, Inc.; Online professional education.” For the bullet points, Mary might use things like, “Microsoft Word; Accounting Ethics; QuickBooks.” And then Mary might go on to list her university education. Remember; the trick is to find a way to make everything in your resume relevant. For example, if Mary recently qualified as a stage hand for theater productions, that qualification might not be very relevant to her potential employer at ACME Accounting. Her qualifications in relevant software programs and accounting ethics, however, will be very interesting to ACME Accounting.
It is usually not relevant to list any education prior to college. However, if you went to a special high school, or received any special awards or honors as part of your high school education, it may be relevant to list them. Including your high school education is also a way to add content to your resume if you are new to the job market and your experience is a little light. If this is your situation, you might even consider switching the order of your resume sections around so that your educational information is listed first, with your work experience listed second. This is a very common option for recent college graduates. In fact, some employment professionals suggest that the Education section should precede the Experience section of your resume until you have been out of college for at least three years.