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Curriculum Vitae: Work Experience Or Working Experience?

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Aderinola Bunmi
LAUTECH
Science Laboratory Technology
Aspirant, Nigeria.
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What do you have on your curriculum vitae: work experience or working experience? For the benefit of young people who do not know what a curriculum vitae (popularly called CV) is, it is a document that states one’s qualifications and other background information often for the purpose of employment. According to Longman Dictionary, it is a written record of your education and the jobs you have done, that you send when you are applying for a job. Don’t worry, you will soon grow up and build yours too, with the hope that the unemployment ravaging the polity will have beaten a retreat by then.

The question asked, however, is one that concerns everyone. A major part of the CV is one where you need to state your job history, including organisations you have worked for and positions held, to show how experienced and relevant you are in relation to the new job or opportunity being sought. How should we title the segment: work experience or working experience?

The first thing to note is that although the expressions are similar, they do not mean the same thing. And despite the fact that many people use them indiscriminately, to the extent that if an employer has 10 CVs from 10 job seekers, five may bear ‘work experience’ and the other ‘working experience’, one is correct in the context under consideration and the other is wrong. In practical and technical sense, ‘working experience’ is not correct, meaning that you should please take another look at your CV to ascertain what you have there.

When you think of ‘working’ as an adjective, it is not safe to immediately think of using it with ‘experience’. The reason is that it can be ambiguous. While it will not convincingly bear the burden of reflecting the jobs one has held so far, ‘working experience’ could mean an experience that works. Experts say it is safe to, however, use ‘working’ as an adjective when you think of a person who works (working mother) or the condition of a product (working condition). You can also think in terms of functionality as we have in ‘working knowledge’. So, explore such usage instead of going to town with ‘working experience’ on your CV.

The Longman dictionary is of help based on how it defines the phrase, ‘work experience’. According to the dictionary, it refers to the work or jobs you have done in your life so far. On the part of Cambridge, it defines it as the experience that a person already has of working; the jobs that someone has had or they have done in the past. It also cites the example of a period of time a student temporarily works for a firm to get experience. The implication is that when the student graduates and joins the job market, the experience will also be listed as part of his ‘work experience’. This is how ‘work experience’ is what is required in our CVs.

Here is an example from the Cambridge dictionary:

Please list your educational qualifications and work experience.

So, ‘work experience’ signifies an accumulation of the experiences you have gathered while in different jobs. It also identifies the different companies or institutions one has worked, including the present one if one is still engaged:


I felt embarrassed when the bank manager observed that I didn’t include my working experience on my CV. (Wrong)

I felt embarrassed when the bank manager observed that I didn’t include my work experience on my CV. (Correct)

One thing that may help you is that your working experience is relevant to the coaching job on offer. (Wrong)

One thing that may help you is that your work experience is relevant to the coaching job on offer. (Correct)

Remember that we also have expressions such as work ethics and all work and no play. You can also sometimes run into trouble choosing between ‘work’ and walk’ as in:

People from different … of life graced the occasion. (walks, work, walk, work)

All … and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (work, walk, works, walks)


Starting from the second question, note that the saying has got to do with performing a duty, working. This means that any option relating to ‘walk’ is a bad one. But what about between ‘work’ and ‘works’, where we have ‘all’ preceding the gap as the subject of the clause? Although ‘all’ readily suggests plurality, it has to be considered in a singular sense here. The verb in the sentence — makes — has already settled this. You dare not say ‘All works makes’, but ‘All work makes’. In other words, there are situations we use singular verbs with ‘all’:

All I want is (not are) love.

All is well that ends well.

In terms of ‘all walks/work of life’, the expression presents one of those naughty situations homonymy rears its ugly head. All walks of life or all works of life? March past or match past? Pit your tent or pitch your tent? Arrange in court or arraign in court? One can easily be deceived if one looks at the people who graced the occasion as coming from different disciplines and job categories. So, one would say ‘all works of life’. This is, however, wrong because the correct expression is ‘all walks of life’.

Concerning the other conflicting terms highlighted above, what are your options in the following?

My son participated in the … past. (march, match)

The man wants to … his tent with Dr Chris till next week. (pit, pitch)

On what day did the DSS … Sowore in court? (arrange, arraign)

I will not pick the answers for you because we have treated the expressions in this class – at least the first two!

Source: https://punchng.com/curriculum-vitae-work-experience-or-working-experience/

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