Resume Experience Section

For each job or internship, use bullets to emphasize your accomplishments and provide thorough, yet concise, explanations of what you do or did. Employers want to know not just what you did, but also how well you did it!

  • Be sure to focus on your activities and achievements, not on what the organization does!
  • Avoid personal pronouns.
  • Possible accomplishments include: met or exceeded goals; raised performance; increased speed, accuracy or quality; reduced customer complaints; increased revenues; decreased costs; increased productivity; streamlined operations; ensured compliance, etc.
  • Talk about a problem or challenge you faced, the action you took to resolve the problem, and the result or outcome of your actions!
  • Use action verbs to start your bullet points and describe accurately what you do or did. Avoid repeating the verbs and use the past tense if you are no longer at the position or participating in the activity.
  • Think about skill transferability and providing context. How is what you did an example of a broader, more versatile skill?  For example, if you have worked in retail, stating that you “Helped answer customer questions and ran cash register” is limiting.  By contrast, stating that you “Identified and resolved customer concerns and processed transactions” points out a broader skill that is transferable to other settings.
    • Quantify your examples wherever possible. This gives an employer some insight into your capacity for work in addition to your skills, as well as some context to understand them. “Identified and resolved customer concerns while effectively processing more than 100 transactions per shift in a fast-paced environment” provides more in-depth insight into your background.
  • Be sure that your résumé fits with the job description. Since a résumé’s “first reading” is often done by a computer that looks for words, phrases, and skills related to the position before advancing the applicant to the next level, it is important to describe your skills and experience with words from the job description.
      • If you are preparing a resume without a specific job description (for example, sending it to a family friend who is passing it along for you), target it to the job category (job title), to the target company, or, as a last resort, to the industry as a whole.
      • To be effective you MUST target your resume in some fashion. The more specific you can be, the better. There is no such thing as a “general” resume you can send to any employer.
      • Use job search websites such as Indeed as a resource for job descriptions to help with this. Even if the descriptions are for more experienced roles than you are pursuing, the keywords and phrases will be very similar.
  • If you have lots of different experience, you can also group similar experiences as a way to highlight them. For example, if you have done two internships related to your target job you would want to make that one of the most prominent parts of your resume. Create a section called “Related Experience” and list those internships there. The remainder of your experience can be re-grouped and noted as “Additional Experience”. This allows you to draw more attention to the most important information, as well as, maintain the reverse chronological format—by section—if you have concurrent unrelated experiences that would otherwise be listed together and lessen the impact of your related experience (See examples later in the guide).


An accomplishment statement proves your ability to contribute to the organization by citing specific examples of success form your past. Later, in an interview, these examples often form the basis for the questions you are asked, so showcase your strengths in your statement and refer back to them when answering behavioral questions during your interview!

Use the Challenge, Action, Result (CAR) approach to illustrate your accomplishments:

  1. CHALLENGE: What was the challenge you faced? Under what circumstances or conditions you did the work: e.g. within tight timeframes, during departmental move, with no supervision or took on additional responsibilities while maintaining current workload.
  2. ACTION: What did you do? What actions did you take and how do they illustrate your skills and abilities (especially those of importance for the target position). Be specific and use strong action verbs (list at the end of this appendix).
  3. RESULT: What happened? We are using these to highlight success, so talk about the benefit you brought to your employer/organization! Quantify the result wherever possible. The goal is to illustrate not just what you did but how WELL you did it and how that makes you different from others who have done the job in the past.

Accomplishment statements prove to the reader you have the skills you claim to have, by giving specific, quantifiable examples that demonstrate a history of effectiveness. Your past success is your best selling point to prove you can be successful in the future. Remember, transferrable skills count here! Just because you may have gained experience in a field different from where you want to go (e.g., experience is in retail and you want to go into politics) you have developed skills in your past that might translate to the new environment (in this case, the ability to work with all different types of personalities). Use your past success to PROVE you have a skill!

  • “Achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 99.9% by quickly developing a high level of proficiency on new software during a two month internship.”
  • “Exceeded monthly sales quotas consistently by an average of 15% for the three years by initiating a system of follow up contacts with satisfied customers.”
  • “Assisted in developing a promotional fund raising campaign that provided contributions exceeding $15,000, three times the previous record.”

You won’t always have experience enough to create full statements like the examples above. Often, when first crafting a resume people fall back on describing tasks or simply listing a skill rather than illustrating it. Let’s look at how you can refine beginning statements about tasks and responsibilities to get a little better…

How to Strengthen an Accomplishment Statement

 Bad                                         “Trained new employees.”

Good                                       “Trained new employees resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”

Better                                      “Trained more than 15 new employees over a six month period resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”

Best                                           “Increased reported customer satisfaction rate by 20% by providing effective training for more than 15 new employees in a six month period.”

You may not have enough information to get every statement to the “best” level, but get as close as possible for each one. A general guideline is to write at least one accomplishment for every job, but more importantly they should be tied to skills your target job requires. The accomplishments should cover the most important aspects of your job and relate directly to your target job.