What should those experience listings include? What should they look like?
I don't have a huge amount of "write it this way" type of advice but I do have some intriguing little bits that I think you'll like to see. Let's start with the things where survey respondents had a decided preference.
First: never, ever list your previous salaries/pay scales. Not a one of the recruiters wanted to see it. One of them noted "salary is always a mistake!" For the very few times I've seen it in an application, I've noticed that it was substantially less than we were planning to pay which simply gets me wondering if we could get you more cheaply. Okay, so we have union pay scales around here that won't allow me to offer you less than a certain amount, but I could see others without that restriction going for it. Do you really want us thinking that way? (Note: that's a rhetorical question.)
And now on with the strong preferences.
70% want you to define what is volunteer and what was paid. Now, not all. One respondent noted that experience is experience, paid or not. I think what we may be looking at here is an assumption--fair or not--that volunteer experience is not of the same level as paid professional experience. Okay, okay, I can hear all of those of you who have been nearly killing yourself taking on volunteer opportunities so you can build your resume, I do understand that this isn't necessarily fair. (Though it might tell you something about the types of projects some of these recruiters assign to their volunteers...) For some, I suppose it's possible that their own hiring guidelines rank volunteer experience as different from paid. If I'm paying somebody for a job, they have deliverables. If I'm not paying them, I'm less likely to get fussed at non-completed projects. How about this for a compromise: if you do list a volunteer job, do those things that were mentioned in the posting about what to include in a resume: provide quantifiable outcomes like "processed x collections of y cubic feet, here's the URLs for the finding aids". I haven't often see that sort of description on the many resumes from applicants with volunteer experience, so that may be why I sometimes wonder if volunteer posts are equivalent to paid.
Let me switch over quickly to that other kind of experience: part-time. 63% of respondents want to see if that job was full-time or part-time. It's not that they necessarily care, but, let's face it, a year's worth of part-time work is not, nor should it be comparable to a year's worth of full-time work. This matters in two ways: first is in direct comparisons between candidates. If quantity of experience is that important to the recruiter, somebody with the full-time job will get ranked over somebody with a part-time job of the same duration. The second way in which it may matter: at my institution? Technically we're not supposed to hired people in at assistant professor level without two years of full-time experience and internships or pre-degree experience doesn't count. So if you claim you've worked for a place for two years, I do need to know if that was full-time or not because it could affect my ability to hire you if an auditor got to looking.
I think one respondent phrased it nicely: "Full-time paid assumed. Indicate if otherwise."
Keep in mind that though it looks like you may be taking a hit to fessing up to a job being part-time or volunteer, that's not necessarily the case. A lot of recruiters relish seeing volunteer experience on a resume. It tells us that you have such a passion for the profession and for the work that you're willing to keep your hands in even when it may have been easier and more profitable to pick up a job waiting tables. And we get that sometimes this is the only way to accumulate experience. Some of us have had to go this route too. Plus, you've probably forgotten this point already (I don't even recall in which early post I wrote it) but if you're applying for a position appropriate to your level of experience, you're not necessarily going to lose the chance at it to candidates who are over-qualified. Some recruiters are going to be taking a closer look at the super-duper-overqualified candidates and asking some hard questions about why they'd be considering such a step career-wise.
Tied at 66% each (that's 2/3 for those of you who prefer fractions) are the styling comments of wanting bulleted lists and wanting textual descriptions. Yeah, I'm not sure what to do with that either but that's a fault in the question as I wrote it. I think more useful is a direct comparison between the 66% who wanted bulleted lists and the 27% who wanted paragraphs. I think we all like the easy to read organizational style of bulleted lists but since job titles are so rarely effective descriptors, we need some explanation, which means some heavier description. See what you can balance. Shorten what you can, use the bullets as a stylistic mechanism to provide order and arrangement to the structure of your resume. And that may be where the 66% who want textual description come in: whether you use bullets to organize the experience section of your resume or whether you use paragraphs or some sort of combination of the two, you do need to provide detail. I've seen a few resumes where the person did just list job titles and honestly, some of them told me nothing about what the person did. In some cases, I suspected they were even misleading. The short of it was that the candidate may have had some experience relevant to the job requirements, but since they didn't spell it out and I wasn't willing to assume, they didn't get credit for it. Out of the pool.
By the way, 24% said they wanted job titles or similar only. I think I really messed up on the question here but I'm still not certain how the respondents read it, because 3/4 of those people also wanted textual description. Which would seem to be contradictory to me. If one of my survey takers is willing to fill me in on this, will you? The comments button is somewhere around here.
And before I mention some closing comments provided by respondents, I'd like to look at one last preference. Not a big preference, only 44% said they prefer it, but it is something to consider. More than just year spans. It feeds into the same kind of ranking thing that the part-time/full-time thing does above. If you tell me you held the Archivist Sine Qua Non position from 2008-2009, you're essentially telling me you had that job for two full years or near to it. If I find out that you held that job from November 2008 to January 2009, I'm going to regard it as misleading on your part and I'm going to get very very skeptical about a lot of the other details in your resume which is exactly what you don't want me to do. I don't think respondents are looking for exact dates (I'd be in real trouble because I'm certain I don't know those for my own career history) but month would be nice--especially for your shorter term jobs, and by that, I mean 2 years or less. One respondent said 1 year or less. If you've had something for 8 years I'm thinking a month or two in the large scheme of things is probably not going to matter to most of us.
Some last closing comments. One respondent pointed out that style (bullets, paragraphs, whatever) preferences can differ even across a committee. This is a really good point because what it tells me and should remind you is that there's no such thing as the perfect resume. Any given resume will result in different responses, depending on who is reading it. You can try and spend tons of time trying to play the "guess the style they like" game or you can spend your time on making sure you're targeting the content they want and presenting it in a clear fashion, no matter what fashion you choose. I suspect even the people who really really want paragraph descriptions of your experience are going to like your clear, concise, succinct and informative bullet points over a candidate who has provided long paragraphs about how their summer project in rural Alaska really taught them so many things about themselves and how what they really want to do is bring meaning to people's lives and that archives can do that. (Don't smirk too hard, I've obfuscated all the details but I've seen more than a few that follow those content lines.)
One last really helpful comment from one of our respondents. Use specific, clear verbs such as: produced, managed, wrote, published, programmed, taught, etc. I'm still not sure on the past/present tense divide in describing experience--I tend to go with present for any job I still have and past for the ones I don't--but I failed to ask that of our respondents. So if you're reading this and are a recruiter and have a preference (unlike me, who doesn't care one way or another) please tell us in the comments and explain why. Thanks!
Next up, what not to include in your resume. I doubt this will be as fun as the what not to include in your cover letter, but no doubt just as opinionated. Our survey respondents are a great bunch, aren't they? I'm just overwhelmed with how responsive and sharing they were with their opinions. If you're one of those people, thank you, so much!