What Is Relevant Experience? Definition and Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 1, 2022 | Published September 29, 2021
Updated December 1, 2022
Published September 29, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When searching for jobs, you may notice employers looking for applicable experience. This changes for every role and helps employers ensure your qualifications align with the position. Knowing what relevant experience is and how to include it in your resume can help you stand out and improve your chances of getting your dream role. In this article, we define relevant experience, explain how to identify and incorporate it into your resume, and list examples to help inspire you.
What is relevant experience?
Relevant experience is any professional work experience that makes you eligible for a specific position. For example, if a candidate is applying for a sales manager role, any prior positions in customer service or sales are relevant work experiences. Employers look for this type of experience mentioned in resumes or cover letters to ensure candidates have the necessary skills and knowledge for the role.
How to identify and incorporate relevant experience
To determine what type of experience employers are looking for when you're applying for jobs, consider the following steps:
1. Review the job description
Start by reviewing job descriptions you're interested in pursuing. You can typically find these descriptions on job boards or specific companies' websites. Take note of skills, responsibilities, or education requirements the employer mentions to determine if you would be a good fit for the role. They may even mention specific experience, such as three years of experience in a leadership role, which can be helpful.
2. Compare the job description to your current resume qualifications
Next, compare your findings from the job descriptions to your current qualifications. One of the best ways to do this is to create a list of your current resume qualifications and combine it with the employer's requirements. For example, you can create a chart of similarities and differences to help you determine what you have to offer and what areas you need to improve upon before applying for the job. This also allows you to determine the items you can emphasize on your resume to help you stand out among other candidates.
3. Emphasize relevant experiences in the skills and professional sections
Once you create your list of relevant skills, education, and experience, include them in your resume. Go through your list and cross out any skill, responsibility, or accomplishment that doesn't add value to the job you're applying for. Then, include the relevant information in your resume by writing statements that align with the skills and qualifications in the job description.
4. Focus on achievements and tasks rather than job titles
Instead of focusing on job titles in your resume, focus on what you learned in those jobs by highlighting your past achievements and tasks. Most roles teach us useful transferable skills. For example, working as a barista can help employees improve their communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills. These transferable skills are useful in any job, so show prospective employers you gained the experience they want in a candidate, even if your prior job titles don't match the jobs you're applying for.
To do this, consider your previous job titles and what relevant skills or knowledge you gained in them. For example, if you're applying for an ESL teacher role but only have experience as a customer service representative, you can discuss the communication or problem-solving skills you developed. Demonstrate this by saying, Built and maintained relationships with customers to discover and meet their needs.
Examples of relevant experience
Whether you have extensive professional experience or limited qualifications, you can highlight your relevant experience on your resume in a number of ways. Here are some examples of relevant work experiences to help inspire you to write your own:
Example 1: When you have limited professional experience
If you're new to the workforce or the industry, you may not have experience in relevant roles. Instead, focus on highlighting your relevant achievements and responsibilities from other roles. For example, if you only have experience as an administrative assistant, here's what your current resume may look like:
August 2018 - August 2020
Called clients to schedule appointments or remind them of upcoming ones.
Processed payments from clients or submitted insurance claims.
Updated and maintained patient files.
Took inventory and ordered new supplies weekly.
Notified dental assistants when a patient arrived.
While there's nothing wrong with this work experience section, it doesn't include experience that is relevant to other positions, such as the police officer role you're interested in, for example. Instead, adapt this section to include skills and experience you gained as an administrative assistant that are relevant to a police officer role, such as analytical skills, attention to detail, or strong communication. For example:
August 2018 - August 2020
Built and maintained strong relationships with patients to provide excellent service.
Improved the filing system by transferring it to a digital platform rather than a physical one.
Wrote detailed notes in patient files or profiles so the entire team could stay updated.
Collaborated with dental hygienists and dentists to ensure we took care of every patient.
Gave back to the community by organizing charity events and drives at the clinic.
Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience
Example 2: When you have extensive professional experience in another area
If you do have work experience but it's in another role or industry, you must revise it to fit the role you're applying for. This shows prospective employers you can transfer your knowledge from one career to another. For example, if you've worked in the financial industry for six years, your resume may look like this:
March 2014 - March 2020
Helped customers open new accounts, withdraw money, and resolve any issues.
Offer financial advice to clients.
Sell products, such as insurance policies, to new or existing clients.
Gain in-depth knowledge of the bank's products and services.
Build and maintain professional relationships with new and existing clients.
If you want to apply to a role in a different industry, such as marketing, you need to adjust this work experience section to include relevant skills, knowledge, and experience. For example, marketing employees need to be creative, possess strong communication abilities, and show excellent negotiation skills. Here is how you can revise your marketing experience to highlight these details:
March 2014 - March 2020
Reduced customer turnover rate by 10% by developing a detailed feedback form to address their concerns.
Engaged with customers to get to know their needs so I could consistently meet them.
Consistently met sales goals by letting existing clients know about our new products or services.
Collaborated with my team to work more efficiently and offer better customer service.
Suggested an update to our bank's website that increased traffic by 20%.
Example 3: When you have professional experience in a relevant area
Even if you have relevant professional experience, you need to readjust your resume for every job you apply for. This allows you to include keywords prospective employers are looking for, which is especially helpful when organizations use applicant tracking software to filter through resumes. For example, you are an HR manager at one company and want to make a lateral career move to another company. Here is how your current resume may look:
October 2015 to October 2021
Recruited and trained new employees, ensuring they felt comfortable in their new environment.
Ensured all employees were following company policies and procedures.
Completed administrative tasks, such as updating employee files or creating new contracts.
Handled workplace investigations discreetly and professionally.
Created an open-door policy to encourage employees to talk about their concerns.
If the job description you're interested in applying for emphasizes that the employer is looking for candidates with experience managing a large team, creating and implementing new policies, and recruiting new employees each month, here's how your revised resume can look:
October 2015 to October 2021
Managed the HR team of 5 employees and oversaw 30 other employees within the company.
Updated the employee handbook with new policies that benefitted the company and all its employees.
Recruited a new employee every quarter that met the company's standards and requirements.
Reduced our employee turnover rate by 50% by updating company policies that employees didn't agree with.
Created a whistleblowing policy to encourage employees to come forward with reports of misconduct.
The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
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