Listing Employment well in your CV

So you’ve created a stunning introduction to your CV and listed all your skills. What’s next? Your employment history of course.

If you have employment that is relevant to your targeted career, it is best to list that separately from any non-relevant employment. It is important to make that distinction so that the potential employer can see you have placed the emphasis on the experience you wish them to focus on, rather than listing everything chronologically, as is the usual convention. This means it may be necessary to create two employment sections: ‘Relevant Experience’ and ‘Other Employment’. If you have only one employment section, you can call it ‘Career History’ or ‘Employment’ rather than ‘Work Experience’ which is a different type of employment altogether.

How much employment history is enough? A lot will depend on how many jobs you have had and how far back your work history goes. Strictly speaking, you should endeavour to include all your employment, if space allows. If not, you may have to summarise your earlier jobs, particularly if you have had quite a long or varied career.

List each job clearly within the employment section. When listing the details of each position, there are four main pieces of information you need to give: WHAT was the job title, WHO did you work for, WHEN did you work for them, and WHAT did you actually do. Generally, the job title should come first. It makes sense to give this priority, as your actual role is likely to be of more interest than the employer’s name. With dates, be as accurate as you can. You need to list the start and finish date for each position, and include month AND year if possible.

Job descriptions need not be a comprehensive list of tasks – remember that your CV is only a summary – so only give the reader as much information as is necessary to provide an accurate picture of what you were doing. Remember that the role itself is not always reflected in the job title, so you may need to explain the nature of the work involved. Mention actual tasks and duties, not just vague responsibilities. Give enough information to create a picture in the reader’s mind of what the job entailed. It is always good to include specific achievements within each role, and quote figures wherever possible, such as financial budgets, value added, savings made, etc.

Finally, it is always good to consider the way your job descriptions are presented. Generally, it is best to write your tasks, duties and responsibilities as a list of bullet points. Try to avoid solid paragraphs of text where possible and break down each sentence into individual bullets. This not only improves the appearance of your CV, but is easier to read. Also, think about how your bullet points are worded. A good rule of thumb is to try and use an ‘action’ word to begin each bullet, which should deal with an individual task or duty. Examples of ‘action’ words are: developed, implemented, managed, assisted, facilitated, monitored, planned, etc. These give the impression of a dynamic, proactive employee, and not just someone carrying out mundane tasks.

Stick to these general rules and you will have created a carefully crafted document, tailored precisely to the industry you are targeting, which should help to get you to that all important interview.

Next time, we will look at the best way to present your education in your CV.

Peter Panayotou is the Founder and Senior Consultant at The Write Stuff

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