Work history provides those in hiring positions with a plethora of information: Career trajectory, relatable experiences, and even possible culture fits can be gleaned from the work history section on someone's resume. For these reasons, your work history section is likely the most important of all sections in your resume. Read more here to find out how you can ensure yours is solid!

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Job responsibilities are the daily tasks that you perform in a job or during volunteer work. For students and recent grads, volunteer activities are as important as professional experience and should be included within your work history section. Many people struggle with the question, "What are the duties of my job or volunteer activity?" It's not that they don't know what they are, rather that many times it can be difficult to put these things into words. If you're having trouble writing this part of your student resume, look back at the job description you were given when you were hired. If that's not available, search for a similar posting- think job boards or college career centers.


Read more about resumes in our resume writing series:

  • Overview
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Honors, Awards, and Accomplishments
  • Activities
  • Avoiding the Top 10 Pitfalls of Resume Writing

Daily duties

Many students and recent grads mistakenly believe that all duties must be listed in a student resume or entry-level resume because this is what admissions directors and hiring managers expect. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

On the selection table, the amount of time to review each resume is limited. You should only include those duties that are directly related to the opportunity for which you are applying. Whether it be an entry-level job or admissions into the school of your dreams, make sure the information you provide around your daily duties is clear, succinct and, above all, related to the opportunity.

Quality Work History

Like most things in this world, not all jobs are equal; likewise, not all job experiences have the same value to a prospective hiring manager or selection committee. When providing your work history, make sure you accentuate the positive, minimize anything negative and keep your information accurate. While you should be sure to never exaggerate your past roles, keep in mind that you can use enhanced versions of a job title to better represent yourself. For example, you can use the phrase "child care worker" instead of "babysitter" or "counterperson" rather than "order taker."

For example, a recent high school graduate's work history may largely center on various summer jobs. Whether those would be bagging groceries, mowing lawns or babysitting, a close examination reveals they all have a central focus on customer service- you should be able to draw focus on this via your resume when applying for full-time roles. Hiring managers like to know that your experiences in the past will help you considerably in what you will be doing in your potential new job.

Going beyond that, you should also include information that is unique to your career, field, or industry to indicate your skill set so your prior experience in the field is detailed.

Formatting your work history

To keep your work history easy to read, try the format below:

Name of the Company, Company Location (City, State)

Dates of employment (Months or Years)

Your job title (i.e.: Retail Clerk)

Bulleted list of your responsibilities


Winchell's Donuts, Palm Desert, California June - August 2015

Summer Counterperson


  • Worked a full summer in franchise environment
  • Helped customers to make selections and rang sales
  • Kept counter and eating areas clean
  • Performed daily inventory counts

What gives the written word power is the way it interacts with the words on the same page. Ensuring that you format and organize your work history in the most appealing, easy-to-read manner will help to ensure your resume is not lost amidst the competition. If you need help structuring your resume, take advantage of the many professional resume writing services available to you.

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