How to Actually Describe Your Work Experience on Your Resume

Describing your experience is often the most challenging part of writing a resume. It’s also often the most important, as employers look to see how you have demonstrated necessary skills through your current and previous roles. Use these steps to help you thoroughly communicate your accomplishments & contributions.

Step 1: List Your Experience

Create a list of your previous and current experience, both paid and unpaid. This can include volunteer, internship, freelance, contract, and research experience as well as work experience.

Step 2: List 5 Things You Did in Each Role

Don’t worry about explaining the details yet. Just get the basics on paper. Some people find it helpful to talk out loud about it. You may want to share your thoughts with a friend or record yourself talking and play it back so you can then easily capture those thoughts on paper.

Step 3: Add Detail

Now that you’ve got the basics listed, it’s time to add detail. Think about specifics that demonstrate your competency of skills using the STAR framework: Situation, Task before you, Actions you took, and Results you achieved. Repeat this process for each position.

Example:  

SITUATION: NEEDED FUNDING TO SUPPORT SUMMER FELLOWS PROGRAM

TASK: FIND & SECURE $30,000 FROM GRANT TO SUPPORT PROGRAM

ACTION: WROTE & SUBMITTED DETAILED GRANT PROPOSAL

RESULT: WAS AWARDED THE GRANT FROM BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION AND ABLE TO IMPLEMENT SUMMER PROGRAM

Put it Together

Start with the action piece, using a strong verb to kick off your bullet point. Then incorporate the other details from the STAR method into your point. Repeat for each position!

Example:

Wrote and successfully submitted detailed grant proposal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support $30,00 in funding toward the 2015 Summer Fellows Program.

Incorporate numbers wherever possible, quantifying your experience. Just getting started? You may want to read more about formatting your resume or download one of my free resume templates