Going for the Gold: What Work Experience Can Get You

Have you watched the Olympics? I don't mean like, just ice skating and gymnastics. I mean, like really watched the Olympics. I am a HUGE fan of organized sports and LOVE the Olympics.

I throw Olympic costume parties, make Olympic themed food, and watch live no matter its country. I get it from my father, who is also a fan of organized sports.

As a child, I was raised in upstate New York, what I lovingly now call south Canada, and remember the family gathering to watch the best athletes of the world march into the stadium and dreamt of the day I too would march as a representative of the United States. I would be able to add a gold medal to my resume. But did I have the right work experience?

What is your gold medal? As you are preparing for your next career and job search, what is your goal?

Maybe it is working at a tech start-up or as an individual contributor at a large corporation. Perhaps your dream is not to earn a gold medal, but the more work experience you have, the closer you should be to that dream job.

The work experience on your resume should tell the story of how each job or volunteer opportunity you have had makes you the best candidate to get you closer to the job of your choosing.

Your resume's work experience section lets you set yourself apart from other potential applicants when looking for a new role.

But employers don't necessarily want to just know what you did as much as it tells how it has set you up for the future. And there is no work experience that is too small. The more experience you have, the more opportunities you will get.

Maybe you have worked at the mall, but now you are wanting to be a key holder. Let's think about how you will put that work experience on your resume. First, we will look at the wrong way to put it on your resume:

Clayton Family Store (2016-2018)

Cashier/Sales Work Experience

  • Handled all cashiering duties
  • Sold Clothes
  • Cleaned windows and shelves
  • Assisted where needed

At first glance, the description above does describe what you did, but it could be anyone's resume. It shows that you could be qualified, but nothing about the work experience listed would set you apart from other applicants.

Let's look at a different way to put it on your resume:

Clayton Family Store March 2016- July 2018

Sales Associate

Work Experience:

  • Performed sales support functions and cashier duties related to Point of Sale (POS) procedures
  • Influenced customer buying decisions by effectively communicating information about the quality, value, and style of brand and products, including style, fit, fabric, price, and care instructions.
  • Maintained store standards per Visual Presentation Assessment direction to enhance the customer shopping experience.
  • Worked with Management to ensure stockroom and met loss prevention requirements.

If you feel like your work experience is not impressive, it is more than likely because your resume does not emphasize your achievements. All experience can translate to work experience. It is not about what you 'did.'

Your resume should detail how you did what you did. It should also show what you created, learned, led, and implemented. Allow your resume to show how your current experience leads to future outcomes.

At this point, you may be wondering what Olympic sport I may have competed in. I was on competitive soccer teams, softball, volleyball, basketball, track, indoor soccer, and cheerleading. But, the more experience I had gained, the more I realized that I was not an Olympic level athlete. Here is what it could look like on my resume:

University of North Texas (2016-2018)


  • Coordinated strategic plan along with coaching staff on an on-going basis to enhance team cohesiveness
  • Led tours of athletic facilities to prospective student-athletes and their families
  • Learned and executed the policies and procedures governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association

I am in now what I would call my dream job. In fact, this is the 3rd time I have been in my dream job. As my work experience changed, my dreams for my career changed with it.

Experience allows you to know what you like to do, love to do, and, more importantly, what you would never want to do again. Remember to build on your work experience and detail the right things on your resume for a successful job search.

Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Does Your Work Experience Already Qualify You for a Different Career Path? Probably.

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