Experience Resumes and Targeted Cover Letters
Experience resumes showcase accomplishments and strengths. They
are good to use:
when you have no formal job experience but some experience in
volunteer, hobbies, and personal activities.
when you have several years of employment experience, lose a job and
are looking for work in a tight job market.
An employer will spend less than 15 seconds scanning your resume.
Only if the items are important to an employer’s needs will more time be
spent reading what you wrote. That is why you must be brief, concise, clear,
and of course exciting and interesting!
Targeted cover letters can help market skills related to an
advertised job, especially those skills that are important to the advertised
job that do not show up on your resume.
The objective of a resume is to get an interview.
By using both an experience resume and a targeted cover letter, your
application is more inviting to an employer.
How to Write an Experience Resume
Follow these steps to help you write a winning experience resume. Sample
resumes are given for one experienced adult, Neda Job, and two teens,
Sammie Sparks and Robin Friday.
As You Write
Hold winning experience resumes to one page with plenty of white space.
Use a 12-point font and 10 characters per inch. Use a font that is
easy-to-read such as Times New Roman or Arial. Your future boss may have
Write Bullet Phrases
A bullet phrase begins with an action verb. It is short, no more than 12
words. Each phrase describes one or two experiences or accomplishments. A
list of action verbs is found in the next section. If none work, use a
thesaurus—one may be included in your word processing program.
Write bullet phrases to describe all you have done. Keep phrases short.
You may have to write several bullet phrases rather than one long sentence.
If you can’t think of the correct action verb, just get your ideas on paper.
You can choose a verb later and rewrite the bullet to make it work.
If you’re stuck, ask a friend to help you. Think about what you
accomplished on each job you had. Think about your hobbies and volunteer
work. Think about your 4-H work. 4-H members will want to review their
record books. Also, think about projects or club activities in school. It
may take several days to complete your list. This is hard work.
Use quantities to measure your accomplishments – dollars,
percentages, work-hours, etc.
Delete job titles. Instead tell what you did.
Use bullet phrases for resumes, targeted cover letters, and
conversation during an interview.
Choose Action Verbs
Here is a list of action verbs. Chose the verb that best describes what
you have done. If you need another word, use the thesaurus on your computer.
Ability to Handle Details
||thrive on work
General Management Ability
Sample Bullet Phrases
Here are some bullet phrases. Be truthful. You may be asked about each of
these in an interview.
Sold (action verb) popcorn to 50 customers, the second highest
sales in my troop. (12 words)
- Phrase shows your ability to meet public and persevere. Giving up
is common in sales.
Organized (action verb) kitchen ministry- planned menus, ordered
food and supplies, recruited volunteer workers (12 words)
- Note, the kitchen ministry could be paid (might list under
employment) or volunteer. Phrase shows an on-going commitment. You
might use a worker or a supervisor for a reference.
Taught myself Word and Excel. (5 words)
- Phrase describes computer skills plus ability to learn
independently, especially if you used a word processing program to
write your resume.
Bullet Phrases with Impact
Group your phrases around themes for impact.
A teaching theme can include paid classroom teaching and volunteer
teaching in children’s or adult Sunday School, and training skills to
A communications or marketing theme can include selling skills,
radio and television appearances, writing publicity for the newspaper,
creating and hanging posters, etc.
An art theme can be creating posters, flyers, and computer graphic
Sales or marketing theme might include retail selling, solicitation
for a fund drive, selling door to door for charity, recruiting members
for organizations or committee work.
Grouping phrases for impact may not be possible for a less experienced
teen. However, the resume for Sammie Sparks shows how one teen
marketed his electronic skills. His resume only discusses electronics!
Now write ONE, SHORT bullet phrase that begins with an action verb that
best describes your accomplishments according to the themes. For example,
Trained employees ……
If as a secretary you trained others to use office machines,
write trained new employees to use office machines.
If you trained a new hire to learn an ordering system, write
trained employees to learn an ordering system.
If you trained field interviewers to learn protocols, write
trained field interviewers to learn protocols.
More ideas for writing winning bullet phrases.
- High school family and consumer sciences teacher
- Taught mechanics at the XYZ Training School
- College teaching – financial management, an on-going class, if a specialty class
- Taught adults to …….
- Taught children to ……..
- What were they and how do they relate to the job?
- If fund raising, give the amount you raised over what period of time.
- If organizing, what did you organize, what was your role and how many
were involved, and how many were served?