How to describe your relevant experience on a resume?
As a job seeker, you’re always expected to include relevant experience on your resume for certain roles. Besides, you could be asked during the interview, “how is your previous experience relevant to the role you have applied for?
But the truth is, it’s not easy to determine which of your previous work experience is relevant to a potential role you’re applying for. Contrary to what you think, not every experience you’ve garnered before as a worker will fit into a new job requirement plan; hence it’s always safe to be very picky and ask how your previous experience is relevant to the role.
In this article, we will talk about what relevant experience one must include in their resume and how to best answer the question, “how many years of relevant experience do you have?”.
What is a relevant experience?
To identify which previous experience is relevant to the new role, one has to figure out what relevancy is. It is always advised to think like your employer; even though many of your previous jobs may have seemed relevant to you, it’s essential to understand if they are important to the current role the employer is offering you.
Every single job position has laid out requirements that must be met before you will be considered. Similarly, different tasks need different skill sets to be carried out effectively; hence you need to pick out which ones (experience and skills) your employer wants for the new job role.
Yes, you can’t read your potential employer’s mind, and it’s also not easy to guess. But still, you don’t need to be telepathic to get what you want; there are many professional ways to know how your previous relevant experience is needed in the new role.
Here are some tips to follow when trying to understand how your previous experience is relevant for a role.
The job description is the starting point.
When you go through the job description of a particular role, you’re better positioned to understand which experience is relevant. You will need to further break the pieces down into less ambiguous sections.
Document your findings on a notepad or Word document.
You can create two columns labeled skills and role responsibilities. With that,
- Go through the job description word by word and pick out the duties needed and the skills necessary.
- Note all these skills and responsibilities in a document and assess them carefully for better understanding.
- Check your current resume and identify all the previous jobs where you had roles similar to the current one or learned skills needed for this current role.
- Create an extensive list using these jobs with the duties you performed as well as skills.
- Use the same keywords from the current job description in your job list. Don’t modify.
Skip any irrelevant experience
Once you’ve begun going through your previous job list, you should come in contact with some irrelevant experiences you’ve had. A lot of them would be your earliest jobs in life. Eliminate them!
But if you have some transferable soft skills but are not too relevant, it’s okay to list them in a separate label called other skills.
Pay attention to quality, not quantity
Don’t ever stretch your previous job’s relevancy to pad up your resume. You should have a simple, relevant list containing 2 jobs rather than having 5 or 6 irrelevant ones.
Your employers only care to know if you’re the right fit for a role by determining if you have at least some knowledge of it. It doesn’t matter if you got that knowledge from a single job or multiple jobs. So always ask yourself how your previous experience is relevant to this role?
Ignore job titles: Solution is better.
When going through your earlier job history, you will come across so many job titles. The truth is, they don’t tell a story, so you should focus on the problems and tasks you faced and how you solved them. It’s how you solved them (brought solution) that shows relevancy, not the title.
Pay attention to achievements.
Paying too much attention to the tasks you did in your last job can be a bad idea. Pay more attention to what you achieved there if you can use numbers to show your relevance value. With real figures backing you up, your employees will see that you’re up to the task and can make some real numbers for them.
Your skillset is important. Highlight it
Last but not least, pay attention to your skills. Make sure to describe your relevant skills and how your previous experience is relevant to the role presented. List your skills and their importance to the position you’re applying for.
This will help you create a powerful resume that can bring you that interview immediately. Don’t go padding up information to have a big resume; if it’s one or two previous jobs, then it’s fine. Remember quality over quantity.
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