This post is part of Accidental Recruiter series.
When deciding whether a candidate is worth their time to test and schedule interviews, one of the major factors in the decision is candidates’ previous work experience. Today, we will see do’s and dont’s for this critical section on your resume.
Please note that I’ll be looking from a software developer standpoint, so some points may not apply if you’re working in another field. However, most stuff should be general enough.
Work experience is a list of periods you have been working professionally on things related to the company you are applying to.
Here’s what a recruiter typically expects from that section:
- Working professionally means you’ve been paid for your work. This includes being a company founder, paid internships, freelancing projects and even part-time work.
- “Labour of love”, toy, hobby, experimental and educational projects should be listed in a separate section.
- Include only things relevant to the company you’re applying to. If you want a software developer job, do include previous software developer positions. However, do not include experiences of working as a carpenter or a taxi driver (Unless you’re a domain expert and applying to a startup working on disrupting carpentry or transportation industry ;-) ). If you absolutely cannot omit unrelated points, you should at least reorder so that relevant stuff comes first and more visible.
For every position you held, provide the following (best if you can give all these):
Dates of start - end of employment. Year and month is best. Example: Jan 2010 - Mar 2012.
Company name. If you were self-employed (freelancer), please state it as such. Example: Microsoft.
Title. Don’t bother with exact title, but it should give enough of an idea of your primary duty. Example: Senior Software Engineer. Or: Junior Quality Assurance Engineer.
A brief but clear description of your company business or the product you have been working on. Note: unless your customers and target audience are developers, “Java-based APIs” and “Platform scalability” can not be the product you’ve worked on. Good examples: Online brand guitar shop. Or: Flight hot deals search engine.
Now describe specifically your accomplishments and duties at this position. Do include any measurable/tangible business impact you’ve made. Do include skills/tech highlights related to that accoplishments. Do include 3-5 of such highlights. Do not include numbers on something not measurable. Do not include vague statements that don’t give more concrete info of what you’ve been doing. Some examples:
- Good: Implemented a websocket-based online chat for our guitar shop. Customers who used chat purchased 20% more products on average.
- Good: Optimized critical code path in ElasticSearch-based flight search infrastructure.
- Good: Set up Jenkins continious integration system which enabled the team to release confidently every week (months before that).
- Good: Closed a large deal with a high-profile customer.
- Bad: Improved team productivity by 13%.
- What exactly did you do? How did you came up with that number?
- Bad: Developed API endpoints.
- What the endpoints are for? What tech you used? How did that impact the business?
- Bad: Managed a team of 5.
- What did your team do? What were your team’s accomplishments? What did you do to help the team to grow professionally?
- Bad: Implementing features, fixing bugs, writing unit tests.
- What kind of features did you implement? Highlight at least one concrete example. Same with bugs. Unit tests are part of a good engineering culture, mentioning this doesn’t add any value to your application.
Optionally, include other skills/tech you have excersized/used. Just a brief list is fine. Example: MongoDB, Python, Angular.
Do not include “reasons for leaving”. This is just a lie in 99.99% cases. You’d never say on your resume that you “left” because you haven’t met performance goals or because you had a shitty boss, right?
To summarize the above, include enough to show the company that you have relevant experience and are able to bring tangible value to the business.
Want to learn more about how to increase your chances of getting through resume filters? Read more on my post series Accidental Recruiter.
Future posts will cover:
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