Quick Tips for Writing Your Work-History Resume Section

A poorly written work history can send your resume to the trash. Avoid being a casualty.

Quick Tips for Writing Your Work-History Resume Section

Use these tips to capture the attention of hiring managers.

Writing your work-history resume section doesn't have to be an overwhelming affair. Think you're intimidated by this whole thing? Well, hiring managers have a true love-hate relationships with resumes. They need resumes to find candidates to fill job openings, but they often have to wade through piles of poorly written resumes to find the right people. 

If you give a hiring manager a clear record of your work history, it provides vital information they need to make a quick decision about your credentials, and you will have an edge over other applicants. Here are 10 ways you can jazz up your work-experience section to capture the attention of hiring managers.

1. Ditch the Description

One of the most common mistakes is to write experience sections that read like job descriptions. Some job seekers go so far as to copy job descriptions word for word. The result is a boring recap of job duties with no indication of actual job performance.

2. Prove Your Value

Hiring managers scan your resume looking for keywords to clue them in about what type of worker you are. If you show that you consistently produced positive results for previous employers, you will be seen as a desirable candidate. The key is to emphasize your accomplishments and provide proof of your potential value.

3. Quantify Results

Your work-history resume section needs to be impressive. Which statement has more impact?

A. Significantly increased revenues and grew client base between 2018 and 2019.

B. Increased revenues from $250,000 in 2019 to $1.5 million in 2020 and tripled client base from 2,500 to 7,000.

In both cases, the candidate is trying to convey he increased revenues and expanded the client base, but statement B measures how well he achieved this growth. Wherever possible, include measurable results of your work.

Note that not everyone can release company performance figures. If presenting this information is a breach of confidentiality, find another way to present your accomplishments. For example, use percentages rather than actual dollar figures.

4. Are You Up to PAR?

PAR stands for Problem Action Results and is a good starting point for thinking about your accomplishments. What types of challenges did you face? What actions did you take to overcome the problems? What was the result of your efforts, and how did your performance benefit the company? Write down a list of your accomplishments and incorporate the most impressive ones into your resume.

5. Lead With Your Work's Outcomes

An effective strategy for your work-history resume section is to write the result of your work before listing the problem and action. This allows you to lead with the most compelling aspect of your accomplishment.

For example: Reversed an annual $2 million decline in market share by streamlining the benchmark process and building a top-flight sales team.

6. Make It Readable

Some resumes use bullets to outline work histories, but this tends to blur duties and accomplishments, which dilutes the impact of achievements. Other resumes use a narrative style to describe work history, which tends to be cumbersome to read, especially for hiring managers who are quickly scanning resumes to extract key information.

Instead, use a combination of paragraphs and bullets. For each employer, provide a brief paragraph that details the scope of your responsibilities. Then create a bulleted list of your top contributions. The bullets draw attention to your accomplishments, while giving the eye a place to rest. Preface accomplishments with a heading such as Key Accomplishments or Significant Contributions.

7. Target Your Experience to Your Goal

Resumes are marketing tools. Your employment history should effectively market you for your current job objective. Focus on accomplishments that relate to your goal and remove job duties and accomplishments that don't support your objective.

8. Use Power Words

The quality of the writing makes or breaks your chances for an interview, so select your words carefully. Avoid dull or stale phrases such as "responsible for" and "duties include." Go for action verbs.

9. Be Honest

Studies indicate that job seekers often lie about their work experiences on their resumes. But with honest and well-written employment histories, even job seekers with less-than-perfect backgrounds will secure interviews. The best strategy for your resume is to always be truthful about your background.

10. Have a Trusted Pair of Eyes Review Your Resume

Knowing what to highlight in your work-history resume section is one thing; actually writing it in a way that is clear and concise is another. Not only should your work history emphasize your skills, it should also convey the value you'd bring to a company. Could you use some help making sure your resume is ready to go? One quick and easy solution is a free resume evaluation from Monster. Using smart technology, we'll scan your resume to see which areas need improvement. Take advantage of this awesome resource today!