The ‘Employment History’ section of your CV is probably the one that will make or break your application. It’s the place where you establish your credibility as a professional and demonstrate whether you’re an appropriate candidate for an interview.
When reviewing your CV, a recruiter is looking for the answer to just one question:
“Could this be the ideal person to fill this role?”
In this section, you’ll be listing the relevant work experience gained over the previous 10-15 years.
We’ll guide you on:
Typically, you’ll list your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent and working backward. This is the most common practise, and won’t confuse recruiters.
You’ll be going back a maximum of 15 years. If you’ve had a lot of different jobs, that doesn’t have to cause concern. These days it’s increasingly common, especially among job-seekers.
If short-term positions relate to the job you’re applying for, in some cases, these can be more relevant to your application than jobs you held for more extended periods. When you’re interviewed, be ready to give genuine and confident responses to questions about your career choices.
It’s useful to outline the flow of your career without unexplained gaps. Therefore, if you spent time in a genuinely irrelevant role to your current application, list only the essential details, with your job title, company name, location, and dates. If you are asked for more information in the interview, you can elaborate as required.
List each period of employment, including the following, typically in this order:
If you use a CV template, how each of these details appears on the page will be automatically adjusted.
Before writing the details, make a list of every job you’ve had over the last 10-15 years. Decide which ones are most relevant to your application and which don’t add anything significant.
It’s most likely that you’ll select the most recent as the ones you’ll go into detail about, but there may be exceptions. For example, if, several years back, you worked on a unique project that relates directly to your current application, it is worth highlighting that you have this rarely- found experience.
Even if you have significant gaps between jobs, consider mentioning these in a single line. For example, an extended break to raise children or a gap year to travel. This will answer any questions the recruiter might be asking themselves before they conclude.
Once you’ve selected the jobs you are going to focus on, list relevant details with bullet points, using strong action words: drove, transformed, created, led, improved, championed, etc.
The first thing to note is that your recruiter doesn’t want to see your job description cut and pasted onto your CV. It’s astonishing how many experienced candidates try this option, using this strategy to fill up space with as little effort as possible. Be warned! It’s not big, and it’s not clever.
Other things to avoid:
It has never been easier to apply for a job:
And yet, somehow, that never seems to work. We often hear candidates complaining: “I’ve applied to hundreds of companies and never even got an interview.”
There’s a simple reason for this lack of effort on the part of the recruiter. They know immediately that you’ve made no effort in your application to them, and they return the compliment. The best you can realistically hope for is an automated, politely-worded rejection letter
Recruiters are not cruel. They don’t have time to spend on candidates who are not suitable for or even genuinely interested in the position they are trying to fill.
Suppose you’re serious about presenting yourself as a candidate for a specific role within a particular organisation. In that case, it is worth making an effort and showing that this is important to you.
Be prepared to tailor your CV each time you make an application. Return, as many times as you need to, to the wording of the advert. Review the job description.
Finally, ask yourself:
Spend time on your CV to strengthen your position and gain that all-important invitation to interview.