Job-seekers are constantly being told to focus on relevant experience when they’re creating a resume. However, the term “relative” can be subjective, and thus difficult for many candidates to properly define. Sadly, that can make it hard for some job-seekers to properly identify which previous employment experiences are most likely to be relevant in a new position. Far too often, candidates assume that a past job is relevant, simply because they view it as such. In this post, we’ll examine the idea of relevant experience, offering some tips to help you better craft your resume narrative.
Before you can even begin to include your relevant experience, you need to be able to identify relevancy. And when it comes to resumes, that means thinking like the employer. So, while you may have held jobs that seem very relevant to you, your opinions means less than the employer’s needs. Every open job position has certain requirements that need to be met. Different duties require specific skill sets. Ultimately, your job is to figure out which experiences and skills an employer is looking for from job candidates.
Obviously, you cannot read that employer’s mind, and it’s probably unwise to just blindly guess. The good news, though, is that you don’t need to read minds or guess and hope for the best. The reality is that there are a number of ways to identify the employer’s needs and your own relevant experience. The following tips can help:
The job description is your best source for defining which experience will prove most relevant. To maximize its usefulness, you need to break it down into its central features:
As you go through that list process, you should eliminate any previous job experience that lacks relevancy. That will include many of your early jobs, as well as any that use completely different skill sets. However, if you had soft skills or some technical skills that could be used in your desired position, note them under a separate list. They can be included in a separate resume section labeled “Other Skills” or “Special Skills.”
Avoid the temptation to stretch the definition of relevancy just to pad your resume. Employers care more about the quality of your relevant experience than the quantity.
Remember, their goal is to ensure that you have the knowledge and skills needed to fill the position. For most employers, it won’t matter whether that relevant experience was all gained at one job or ten.
As you go through your prior work history, ignore your job titles. Those titles don’t always tell the story when it comes to relevant experience. Instead, focus on the tasks and challenges you faced, and the solutions and results you achieved. In most instances, those results will prove the true relevancy of your experience.
Don’t fall into the trap of highlighting the tasks you performed in past jobs. Instead, focus on what you achieved. Try to use real numbers to highlight the value of any relevant experience. That’s the best way to ensure that a potential employer sees just how relevant your prior work history truly is. For example, don’t simply say that you led the company’s advertising team. Instead, describe that experience using quantifiable numbers that showcase value:
Led ABC Corp’s 12-person ad team, revolutionized client ad campaigns, increased client retention by 23%, and profits by 31% yearly.
Finally, emphasize those skills. Always describe how you used relevant skills, to showcase their importance. That will help to ensure that you create a resume filled with relevant experience that speaks to an employer’s needs. And that’s the best way to showcase yourself as the top candidate for the job and land that crucial interview.
We wrote a good post here on how to include skills on your resume.