Resume - Define Experiences Through Examples

The main body of your resume is dedicated to your experiences from work, academic projects, extra-curricular /leadership roles or volunteering. These are documented in the section entitled Experience or Relevant Experience. To learn more see Step Three.

Most resumes are ineffective in attracting the employer’s attention. Often this is because they show the job seeker’s experience as a list of job responsibilities. For example: 2003-05 The GAP, Sales Clerk.

  • Handled cash
  • Served customers
  • Set up displays

Employers generally know what sales clerks do and what they see in this example a list of duties that every other job applicant might have performed. Boring! What they want to see is what you did in that position that made a difference. In other words, what is it about your skills that added value for your previous employer?

Try to think about the results or accomplishments you achieved in your previous position (or in university projects or volunteer work). Think about feedback you may have received on something you accomplished at work or in your extra-curricular activities.

A more effective ‘results focused’ description of your accomplishment would look like this: 2003-05 The GAP, Sales Clerk.

  • Managed customer relations by understanding their requirements, making recommendations and providing solutions to problems. Results included highest sales within the branch and customer satisfaction commendations.

With this example the employer can see your communications, sales and problem solving abilities. They also notice that you achieved results with your skills in the past so there is a good chance that you would do the same for them!

Deciding what experiences to include on your resume may or may not be a straightforward decision. Some students wonder about including organizations that are not known to employers or that are potentially controversial. This can be a personal decision as well as a strategic decision; you want to ensure that your relevant skills or experiences are highlighted so that the employer understands what you may bring to the position and you must feel comfortable discussing the experiences in an interview.

If you would like to discuss the pros and cons of this type of decision, please make an appointment to see a Career Counsellor or Employment Advisor. You can also find more information in the Find Employment tab of our website, within the sections for International Students, Students with Disabilities or LGBTQ Students.

For more examples, see Resume Samples.