Among all sections, the section called experience on your resume may seem the most difficult because it is the most important one.
Today, in this article we will cover all the questions regarding writing the experience section on your resume.
From how many years of experience on your resume is intriguing to how to explain gaps and everything in between will be discussed in this extensive guide.
Before we talk about various questions of writing the experience section, let’s first understand the importance of the experience section on your resume!👇
Importance of experience section on your resume
A professional resume writer may tell you that depending on the resume format, the experience section and/or skills section is most important on your resume, along with the resume summary.
Most employers are concerned only with what you bring to the table and these two sections describe that well.
This is why you need to take your experience section seriously and write it very carefully and avoid lengthy experience section.
Experience section describes all the jobs you have done, the responsibilities and job duties you have handled well.
The hiring managers seeking an employee, post a job description to showcase what they are looking for, the experience section is an answer to that job description- this is all as a candidate I have to offer.
The experience section discusses your skills, your exceptional performances, challenges you have faced and overcame.
The experience section is the proof you present to back your candidacy, to prove your competency.
Experience section allows the hiring manager to understand what you are good at, what you are familiar with, what are you capable of.
Which in turn, helps them estimate how well you will contribute and how valuable experience of yours will be value addition for their team and success goals.
Now let’s discuss all your concerns regarding writing the experience section on your professional resume.
How to explain gaps
One of the most confusing question is how do I explain the gaps. There are various reasons because of which you may have taken gaps. Not all reasons may seem valid or presentable on the resume.
Sometimes, any gap at all could be a minus point in hiring manager’s eyes. So what do you do about your gaps?
📌 Here are some solutions:
- You can note some online course or programs you have completed. Such courses could add value and also help you seem active and up to date with the industry and your area of expertise.
- You can also mention any events you attended that may be of relevance and importance. They will also help you seem like an active professional who did something or the other even when not employed full time.
- You can mention any volunteering experiences or training you have taken during the gap period.
- You can also mention your freelance work history that you were occupied with during the gap period in your resume.
Sometimes the real reason may be good enough to present even on your resume and also in the interview.
For example, if you are a mother or father who were taking care of a new born or children, you can mention how you were busy taking care of your family full time.
You should not feel guilty or hesitate while writing these details, instead be proud and write with confidence. Being parent is no less than full time employment with salary.
You can mention how you stayed up to date with current affairs and industry. You can note your networking efforts during the gap and showcase that you are not out of touch rather, you are ready to jump back on the track!
Reasons to not add all of the experience
There are some sensible reasons that you need to consider, they help you understand why you should not add all of your experience in the resume.
One of the many reasons to not add all of the jobs and positions on your resume is the possibility of age discrimination.
Your experience section can easily help the hiring manager estimate your age. Sometimes, hiring manager is looking for younger candidate and does not give an opportunity to senior candidates.
If your experience section has experiences mentioned that go back to 15 to 30 years, hiring manager will immediately put down your resume. This is why you need to remove such old experiences.
The old experiences that go back to 15-30 years, may not ab as relevant to your new role and next job.
Times have changed, every industry evolves in this digital and technological era where advancement and evolution are the only constants.
Even if you were in the same industry and similar roles all those years, your oldest experience may not be as relevant anymore to your specific job today.
When you have such a long career history, you do not need to worry about proving your experience’s worth and you can get rid of some of the very old experiences on your resume.
When you have too many experiences, you will end up with cluttered resume. You need to choose the relevant experiences and let go of earlier work history and earlier experience to avoid chaotic presentation of your resume.
The visual appeal as well as ease of comprehension, are very important to grab and hold the hiring manager’s attention. Attention span of hiring managers is usually low, hiring managers do not spend a lot of time on one resume.
If your resume is lengthy and goes on and on, hiring manager may not pay careful attention to your resume.
Two page resume length
A standard professional resume is one to two pages long and no more than two pages, meaning no matter how much of information you have, you cannot get a third page.
This two page standard is sensible because of the attention span of hiring manager and usual requirement of resume to say a lot in less space.
If you do not remove the old jobs, your resume will be too long and exceed the two page standard which will make it really difficult for you to get the new job.
Reasons to add 10+ years of experience
We discussed why job seekers who are experienced professionals, should not add all of the experience on their resume.
Now let’s discuss circumstances in which you should add your experience even if it goes far back on your resume, as far as 10+ years.
One of the reason to include, different positions from 10 years ago is if they are relevant experience to your new role and job. If the position is highly relevant, you should include it.
You may have to customize your resume for a single job or particular role, so you can include the particular older jobs.
You can keep different resumes for different roles, you can customize experiences based on relevant positions and maintain the length to professional resume standards.
Valuable title or prestigious company name
Sometimes, you cannot get rid of particular roles and jobs because they are the ones where you held a very valuable title.
You may also keep different companies from your 10+ years of work experience, because they were prestigious company.
Your career journey is likely to get better when you have experiences and titles on your resume that may be impressive for the potential employer.
Your work experience on the resume may vary depending on the what employers and the position requires from you.
Let’s say you graduated in 2003, and because you did not want to mention very old experiences, you mentioned your experiences from 2015 which is about 8 years of experience, 2 years short of 10 years of experience.
The hiring manager might wonder in such case, what did you do during 2005 to 2015? Hiring manager might assume it is a gap on your resume.
In such cases, your skills and work history may not be the highlight and the recruiter may get stuck on why do you have such a long gap. To explain such gaps, you may want to include your 10+ years of experience.
Another solution to avoid such situations, is not remove the dates of your education details. This might avoid the bias and presumptions on hiring manager’s part.
Even if your are recent graduate, you might want to remove the dates of education to avoid bias in hiring authorities as it may lead them to think your lack of extensive experience means you are not a competent candidate. Your career may not even begin in such situations.
Describing extensive experience at one company
Some of the experienced professionals may have been with same company for a long period of time i.e. 10 years or 15 years or even 7 years.
How do you describe such experiences on your resume? You held one position or perhaps multiple positions but they were all at one company and you might think it will look odd on your resume.
No need to worry, you can simply describe the journey at the company and make your experience seem very valuable.
You need to showcase the exposure you had during the span of employment, you can discuss the challenges you faced and overcame, you can talk about the skills you learned at the same job.
Most importantly, you should mention the promotions you received, the positions you held and how your contribution made a huge difference for the company and its success.
How to decide how far back your resume should go?
Now we talked about reasons to not include older experience and also the reasons to include older experience. So, how do you decide how far back your resume should go?
Level of position
The experience written on your resume depends the level of position. For example, if you are applying for an entry level jobs, your experience section may not be lengthy and you may have around 0 to 2 years of experience.
For candidates looking for a jobs for mid level roles such as associate level role of forensic accountant, you may want to mention your experiences as far as 10 years.
Mention the relevant jobs and elaborate those. However, other notable accomplishments and experiences may not need a lot of elaboration or in-depth description.
As a senior level job seeker, you may want to include on your resume, as far as 15 years of work history. This will showcase your long career and work experience.
For example if you are a statistician, applying for a senior role at a national institute, your resume will need extensive work experience.
Depending on the relevancy and level of the target role, you can decide how many jobs and which experiences you should mention on your resume.
Another important parameter to consider while deciding how many jobs you need to mention on your resume is to consider the relevancy of the experience.
Today’s job market is more about skills and knowledge rather than years of experience, right employers will realize your value based on your skills and not the years of experience discussed on your resume.
You should keep the experiences that are relevant to the job and get rid of other experiences.
Previous positions that did not have any relevant aspects or had little relevancy to your target role, you can get rid of.
To conclude you need to put in some extra efforts in your experience section of the resume. And this will surely improve your job search process.
In this article we have covered all the important questions regarding the writing experience section on your resume.
You should also check out our resume writing guides, resume examples and resume templates to get a better idea of how your resume can look like to land your dream job. Good luck!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I am a fresher, should I include irrelevant experience to reflect extensive work history?
Depending on the role you are targeting, you may want to include irrelevant experience to reflect ‘professional experience’.
However, if the role demands specific skills and experience, you may want to leave out irrelevant experiences and emphasize your skills and experience that you do have.
Should I include my 20+ years of experience for a senior level role?
For a senior level role, you might want to include experience of as far back as 15 years, more than that may be unnecessary unless the experience is particularly relevant and important.
Do I need documents of my jobs as old as 15 years?
Hiring managers may ask for some relevant documents of the jobs as old as 15 years depending on those jobs’ relevancy to your new job. However, if those experiences were irrelevant to your current job, chances are that recruiter will not bother with them.