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You are Here: Home > Resumes > Resume and Letter Center > Six-Step Resume Writing > Step Five: Professional Experience

Six-Step Resume Writing

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Step Five: Professional Experience

In the Professional Experience section, list your work history in reverse-chronological order; that is, your most recent job first, followed by your next most-recent job, and so on.

In your work history, include your employers and job titles. Also include your employment dates, unless you feel the need to hide large work-history gaps. (See functional resume under Resume Formats below.) Including this information is standard and expected by all hiring managers and admissions directors.

Employment Dates

Generally speaking, hiring managers prefer years of employment, rather than months and years (e.g., 1999 - 2003 as opposed to May 1999 - April 2003). However, some college admissions programs want specifics when it comes to dates, so it's best to use precise dates when applying to graduate school.

In the Professional Experience section, also list daily tasks and responsibilities beneath the appropriate employer. If you've included a Career Accomplishments section in your resume, don't repeat that data under Professional Experience. Once you've presented data in your resume, avoid redundancy.

To ensure that your daily tasks are presented in an interesting and easy-to-read manner, do the following:

  • Use a bulleted format (like this). This breaks up large blocks of text that could prove daunting to a hiring manager.
  • Delete unnecessary articles and adjectives. Your sentences should be short and snappy.
  • Begin each sentence with a power verb (also called an action verb). Power verbs give your resume impact and grab the reader's attention.

An example of a bulleted format, pared down writing, and sentences beginning with power verbs follows. Again, we use our accountant in this example.

Verb Tense

For jobs in which you are still employed, write your job duties in the present tense. For jobs you held in the past, write your job duties in the past tense.

Resume Formats

Professional Experience can be captured and showcased in three resume formats:

  • A chronological resume provides your work history in reverse-chronological order, dating back from the present. This is the most common format and is generally preferred by hiring managers.
  • A combination resume stresses what you know in one section, while also providing your work history dating back from the present in another. This is a highly popular modern format, well-accepted by hiring managers.
  • A functional resume stresses what you know over where and when you gained your experience. Some job applicants use this format if they have strong skills, but weak employment records, such as work-history gaps of a year or more. Although this example shows employment dates, you might omit same to further de-emphasize work-history gaps. Regardless, don't use this format unless you must, as it's not as widely accepted as those above.

See Resume Formats for more information and examples.

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