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What Does "Relevant Experience" Mean on a Resume?

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Creating a compelling resume has never been so challenging. Most job seekers have to craft a resume that gets through an electronic screening process and appeals to a human recruiter or hiring manager. An effective resume includes a summary of the candidate's background, education and relevant experience for the position.

Chronological Resume

A traditional, chronological resume is divided into two sections: education and work experience. The education section lists the applicant's academic degrees and credentials in chronological or reverse chronological order. Similarly, the work experience section lists the applicant's employment history, starting with either her current job or her first job and continuing in order. Such information as special interests and volunteer positions is optional. When included, it usually appears at the bottom of a resume. A chronological resume illustrates how an applicant's career has progressed over time, with each successive position increasing in complexity and responsibility.

Relevant Experience

An experience-based resume focuses on positions or events in the applicant's past that make her well suited to the work she will do if she is hired. For example, an applicant for a managerial position lists projects or positions in which she utilized management skills. Organizing a charity event, leading a project team and mentoring a recent graduate all demonstrate aptitude as a manager. Concentrating these experiences in one section of a resume instead of scattering them throughout a chronology emphasizes the applicant's qualifications for the position.

What to Include

There is no one right way for an applicant to list her relevant experience on a resume. In general, the applicant should include enough information for the reader to be able to tell how recent the experience is, what the applicant did and what the outcome was. An example might read, "Organized a fund-raising dinner for a senatorial candidate in last year's election, resulting in $100,000 in donations" or "Led a project team that developed three new offerings in this season's product line."

What to Look For

As a hiring manager, you can identify relevant experience whether or not an applicant lists it in a separate section of the resume. Review the entire resume for the applicant's involvement in activities that use the same skills and talent that will make a candidate successful in the job at hand. You may find some relevant items in the section that describes the applicant's employment background and others listed at the end of the resume, in a section that includes volunteer work and personal interests.


Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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