What is Work History?

Definition and Examples

Interviewer reviewing work history on a job application
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Your work history, also known as your work record or employment history, is a detailed report of all the jobs you have held, including the company or companies' name(s), your job title(s), and dates of employment.

Here is some insight into when you need to provide your work history to employers and how to provide it, along with tips for building your resume.

What is Your Work History?

When you apply for jobs, companies typically require that applicants provide their work history, either on their resume, on a job application, or both.

Your work history is a list of the jobs you've held and the employers you've worked for, along with the dates you worked in each role.

When You Need to Provide Your Work History

A job application may ask for information on your most recent jobs, typically your last two to five positions. Alternatively, the employer may ask for your jobs across a number of years of experience, typically five to ten years of experience.

Employers generally request information on the companies you worked for, your job titles, and the dates you were employed there. However, sometimes the employer will ask for a more detailed employment history and more information on the jobs you have held as part of the hiring process. For example, they might ask for the name and contact information of your previous supervisors.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employers review employment history to determine whether the applicant's work experience and the jobs they have held are a good match for the hiring company's requirements. They also look at how long the person has held each job. Many jobs of short duration may imply the candidate is a job hopper and won't stay long if hired.

Prospective employers also use your work history to verify the information you have provided. Many employers conduct employment background checks to confirm the information is accurate. Background checks have become increasingly common in all work industries, so make sure that the information you share is accurate.

Recreating Your Job History

Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember elements of your job history, such as the specific dates that you worked at a company. When this happens, don’t guess. Because background checks are so common, it is likely that an employer will spot a mistake on your history, and it could cost you a job.

When you can't remember your work history, there is information available that you can use to recreate your personal employment history. Below are some suggestions for creating your job history:

  • Contact Prior Employers. Contact the human resources departments of your previous employers. Say that you would like to confirm the exact dates of your employment with the company.
  • Look at Your Tax Returns. Check out your old tax returns and tax forms, which should have information on your employment over previous years.
  • Check with your state unemployment office. Often, unemployment offices will provide individuals with their employment histories. However, they typically only have information on in-state employment histories.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration. You can request earnings information from the Social Security Administration (SSA). After filling out a form, the SSA will usually release information on your work history. Keep in mind that sometimes the SSA charges a fee, depending on how far back you want the information to go and how much detail you need.

With the exception of the SSA, you should not pay someone to find your work history or to create a list of your work history for you.

  • Keep Track of Your History. Once you have your work history, compile it into a list and save it somewhere. Be sure to update it regularly. You can then refer to this list any time you apply for jobs.

How to List Work History on a Resume

Job seekers typically include work history in the “Experience” or “Related Employment” section of a resume:

  • In this section, list the companies you worked for, your job titles, and your dates of employment.
  • One element to add to your work history on a resume is a list (often a bulleted list) of your achievements and responsibilities at each job.

You do not need to (and should not) include every work experience in your “Experience” section. Focus on jobs, internships, and even volunteer work that is related to the job at hand.

One useful tip is to make sure whatever work history you include on your job application matches what is on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Make sure there are no inconsistencies that could raise a red flag for employers.

Example of Work History on a Resume

Here's an example of an applicant's work history listed on a resume.

ACME MANUFACTURING CO., White Plains, NY
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER (February 2021 – Present)

  • Manage human resources operations for historic manufacturing firm employing a workforce of 1,500+ personnel.
  • Responsibilities include talent acquisition and onboarding, employee relations, and benefits administration.

LAKESIDE INDUSTRIES, Rye, NY
HUMAN RESOURCES SPECIALIST (November 2016 – January 2021)

  • Assessed and devised solutions for employee relations issues affecting a 3,200-member workforce.
  • Organized on-time administration and submission of EEO-1 surveys to the EEOC.