How to Evaluate
Whether your Experience
is Viewed as Work Experience

October 12th, 2022

The challenge that most people face when switching careers or starting one is that it is becoming an increasing challenge to determine what counts as “experience” and what does not. Based on years of experience in certified resume writing, we will attempt to clarify this question by describing precisely what qualifies, what does not, and how to differentiate between the two.

Introduction

 

If you are just starting out in your career or seeking a career change, you must first edit and optimize your resume so that it is tailored to the desired position. The first obstacle you will face is that the majority of jobs, and even some entry-level positions, require applicants to have equivalent work experience. The challenge that most people face when switching careers or starting one is that it is becoming an increasing challenge to determine what counts as “experience” and what does not.


Based on years of experience in certified resume writing, we will attempt to clarify this question by describing precisely what qualifies, what does not, and how to differentiate between the two.

 

What qualifies as work
experience and what doesn't?

 

Here is a list of options that, if used properly, could be included in your resume:

  • Volunteering
  • Internships
  • Research
  • Hobbies
  • Project

How then do you determine what qualifies as work experience and whether to include it on your resume? Here is a clear and simple but effective answer from professional resume writers:

Include it on your resume ONLY if you believe it’s the most relevant experience for the position you’re applying for.

If your other experience is sufficient for a one-page resume, do not include these activities. Here are some additional details on when and how to include each of these on your resume.

 

Volunteering

 

Even though it’s unpaid experience, most volunteer positions have similar requirements to traditional workplaces, such as requiring volunteers to be committed, on time, and complete their assigned tasks, making it one of the best things to include on your resume if you have little or no paid work experience. If this is the case, you should list your volunteer experience in the same way as regular work experience, meaning briefly describe your duties followed by your major achievements. Do not include volunteer work on your resume if you have sufficient paid experience to fill at least one page.

 

Internships

 

The majority of companies do not count internships toward the required number of years of experience; however, this can vary depending on the company and, of course, the nature of the internship. However, internships are still a great way to demonstrate professional accomplishments, particularly if they are in the same industry as the jobs you’re applying for you’re just starting with your career. If it’s been several years since your internship(s) and you’ve since gained additional experience, delete the internship(s) from your resume.

 

Research

 

When comparing research done at the post-graduate level to that done at the undergraduate level, there is a substantial difference. While post-graduate research counts as work experience and should be listed in your regular work experience section along with the employer, dates, and relevant accomplishments, undergraduate research does not count as work experience. Depending on how you choose to format your resume, it should be included under the projects, education, or publications
section.

 

College

 

Do not list College as your experience. How to tell what qualifies as work experience and what doesn’t. It would appear unprofessional and out of touch to include coursework as part of your work experience, regardless of its relevance. If this is your most relevant experience, it can still be placed at the top of your resume, but it should be listed in the education section. Your coursework is less relevant than your recent work experience if you graduated more than a few years ago; therefore, you should remove it from your resume.

 

Hobbies and activities

 

Generally, private hobbies and activities are not relevant and don’t count as work experience. Participation in extracurricular clubs and organizations is a better way to demonstrate relevant accomplishments or transferable skills than unstructured activities.

 

Projects

 

Projects are a valuable addition to your resume but don’t count as work experience. Personal or academic projects can be a great way to demonstrate your hard skills in action, which is significantly more convincing than simply listing them on your resume. If possible, provide a direct link to your portfolio so potential employers can evaluate your work independently. If your projects were more of a casual hobby or it’s still unfinished avoid listing them at all.

 

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