When you are writing a CV/resume or having a job interview, you will have to describe your previous or current work experience or background. So knowing professional vocabulary and phrases to do this is important.

When you talk about your work experience, you should always focus on the positive, never the negative. But even bad work experiences can be talked about if you use the correct professional vocabulary to make them sound like productive or beneficial experiences.

In this online exercise on decribing work experience, you will find both professional English vocabulary and an example of how to describe past work experience in English on both a CV/resume or in a job interview.

If you want to learn some more advanced vocabulary on work exerperience than what you find in the exercise below, I recommend that you do our exercise on 'describing work & business processes' instead.

In addition to these exercises, we have a lot of other free online exercises on CVs/resumes and job interviews vocabulary and techniques


Exercise:

Read the following part of a job interview where an interviewer asks a candidate to describe their feelings about a previous position/job.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Interviewer:'Returning to your position as a sales team leader, it must have been very stressful? How did you cope with the pressure?'

Candidate:'Of course there is a lot of pressure in this type of role. The most important thing is that you have to meet your targets. My team had to sell a minimum of 2000 mobile phones every month. But I wouldn't say it was stressful, for me it was more challenging. I had to manage a team, something which I'd never done before. So I had to learn how to delegate tasks to the members of my team.

Another thing I learnt is how to react when things don't go right, when you have setbacks. You learn what you should and shouldn't do when things go wrong. I also gained experience. I learnt so much about both working in a sales environment and managing people.

Being able to solve problems and see the results of your work is very rewarding. For me, the job was extremely fulfilling, I always went to work with a smile on my face.'

Interviewer:'So you were fulfilled with what you did there. Excellent! But what did your managers think of your performance?'

Candidate:'All of my performance reviews showed that I not only met my personal and team targets, but I exceeded them, sometimes 50% higher than my targets. For the two years I was in that position, I got very good performances bonuses, about $5,000 each time. In fact, one of my references is from my old manager there.'



Quiz:

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question which you can press/click on. In the first icon, , you can find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...) and a Spanish translation. In the second, , is where you can listen to the word/phrase and do a pronunciation test (to make sure you can say it correctly).


1.

When something makes you satisfied and happy, it is

         

Fulfilling:
(adjective) This is commonly used. It is often used to mean that you have learnt something important. An example of a fulfilling experience is 'going to India and learning about a different way of life'. In Spanish: "que satisfacerse"

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Fulfilling:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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2.

When a Manager gives one of their staff the responsibility to do one of their tasks, they

         

Delegate:
(verb) The infinitive is "to delegate". It is a transitive verb, e.g. 'I have too much work and I need to delegate it to you'. In Spanish: "delegar".

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Delegate:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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3.

When you did something a lot better than expected, you

         

Exceeded:
(verb) The infinitive is "to exceed". In this context it is a transitive verb, e.g. 'I exceeded your expectations'. In Spanish: "exceder".

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Exceeded:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4.

A business way of saying 'to achieve important work objectives', is to

         

Meet your targets:
(verbal phrase) You can replace 'meet' with 'achieve' and it has the same meaning. The infinitive is 'to meet your/his/my/her/our/their target'. In Spanish: "cumplir su objetivo".

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Meet your targets:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5.

When you learn or achieve something from an experience, it is

         

Rewarding:
(adjective) Examples, 'I like helping people it is very rewarding', or a rewarding experience. In Spanish: "gratificante".

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Rewarding:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6.

Another way to say that you learnt something practical/useful, is

         

Gained experience:
(verbal phrase) The infinitive is "to gain experience" In Spanish: "adquirir experiencia".

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Gained experience:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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7.

People named on a CV, who can be contacted, are called

         

References:
(noun) Normally, this is ex-managers who you trust will say good things about you. In Spanish: "referencia".

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References:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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8.

Another way to say you had problems which caused a delay, is

         

Setbacks:
(noun) When something doesn't go as expected and causes problems or delays. In Spanish: "revès".

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Setbacks:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9.

Reports that a manager writes each year about the people who works for him or her, are called

         

Performance reviews:
(noun phrase) It is used to show the progress of a member of staff, business, department etc... In Spanish: "evaluación de desempeño".

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Performance reviews:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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10.

A nicer way to say that something is difficult, is

         

Challenging:
(adjective) It means that something hasn't been easy to achieve or do. It sounds very positive, e.g. 'climbing the mountain was challenging' or ' it was a challenging year'. In Spanish: "que supone un desafìo/reto".

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Challenging:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Practice

Now that you understand the describing work experience/background vocabulary, practice them by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.

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