Resume word of the day: “Experience”

WooHoo! Time for another “Resume Word of the Day!”. Yeah, yeah, I know I don’t do this daily and it’s probably not that exciting for you, but it’s something I can get excited about (slow day today…you betcha)…cut me some slack…

Resume word of the day is “Experience”…

Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word experience (look it up here). Some of the definitions refer to experience as a collection of events and related learnings. Another definition refers to individual occurrences (not a collection and not necessarily related to learnings).

On a resume, you generally explain your work roles in a section titled: “Experience”. But now and then, I see people who use the word “Experiences” (plural). The former refers to the learning and skills developed. The latter does not. So the appropriate word is “Experience”.

I suspect that most of the confusion exists for non-native English speakers since the desire to pluralize is logical, though not colloquial. So if you didn’t grow up speaking English, it would be hard to know the difference.Anyway, it’s something I see pretty often in resumes and communications from candidates. So just a little tip to help anyone that is struggling with choosing the right word.



Comments (13)

  1. Its amazing how little things like this can catch a good recruiters eye. After I read this, I couldn’t remember what I did on my resume so I rushed to look…..and lo and behold..there was no section called experience 🙂

    I called it work. I feel that people in general have the wrong connotation to the word "Work." Its thought to be a drag and boring; thus I would associate a person who used the word Experience with a underpinning meaning of "not too happy to do what he/she does." I proudly say "Work" because work encompasses more than just experience (def. Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill). It would be impossible to list all your "Experience" from "Work" so the superclass has to suffice.

    Thats my rambling and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

    Point of fact – english is wierd even if you’ve been speaking it all your life.

  2. mike says:

    I prefer "Work" or "Work Experience". "Experience" by itself could mean you were around it but weren’t really involved with it. I once experienced an earthquake but I am not knowledable about earthquakes, wouldn’t put it on my resume, and am generally not an expert on it enough to apply for a job related to it.

  3. I have to ditto Sushant, the "English is weird even if you have been speaking it all your life." I’m seriously considering translating my resume into hieroglyphics. Crude drawings of me, stick girl, spearing a MAC. 😉

  4. Scott Allen says:

    When I look at the referer log for Google hits on my resume – it amazes me how many queries include the word ‘experience’. Is there ever a resume listing areas of inexperienece?

  5. Heather says:

    Oooh, Danielle, I hope if you do that, you’ll send me a copy. Sounds like fun reading ; )

  6. Heather says:

    Scott-recruiters do that so they pick up resumes in their search. Experience is one of the few words that appears on almost every resume (in some form…"experence", "experiences", "work experience" ). So really all we are trying to do is make sure we get resumes instead of other web pages that happen to include our keywords. Just a honing technique. Pretty smart, huh?

  7. Ashish says:

    hey heather … whts the word tht will catch ur eye when u’ll be lookin @ a resume ? i’ll make sure i’ll include it in mine 😉

  8. Heather says:

    Ashish, it depends on your background. I can tell you that it isn’t "ur" or "u’ll" or "whts" or "tht" ; )

  9. Ashish says:

    well … the background … tht would be … Currently Studyin in 10th Grade, MCSE 2000 in August 2004 … and will be linux admin, solaris admin and CCNA by the first quarter of 2005 … now how does that sound 😉 😛

  10. Ashish says:

    well … the background … tht would be … Currently Studyin in 10th Grade, MCSE 2000 in August 2004 … and will be linux admin, solaris admin and CCNA by the first quarter of 2005 … now how does that sound 😉 😛

  11. Ashish says:

    oopz … sorry 4 2 posts :S … anyways … i m just 17 … long way to go 😉 … btw i just checked out your BIO … nice pic 😉

  12. You got it Heather… (now where did my darn Wacom Intuos2 go?)

  13. One Louder says:

    This time of year, I’m burning excess vacation days and you may be doing the same or hiding from in-laws

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