How to write the employment section of your CV

Unless you're an entry level graduate, getting the employment section right is critical to the success of your applications. It's not just a bunch of bullet points that detail your previous job requirements, it needs to be carefully constructed in a way that is rich in keywords, sells your achievements, overcomes the Applicant Tracking Systems, whilst remaining concise enough to appeal to the human eye.

I recommend building a 'master CV', with everything you've ever done on it, from which you can cherry pick the most relevant achievements for each job application.

Deciding what's relevant

Here are some tips:

  • Look at the job description to help you pick achievements or responsibilities you've had in previous jobs that demonstrate your suitability to the role. They aren't interested in reading every single responsibility you've ever had!
  • Include the most detail in your most recent employment history, and reduce the detail you provide for jobs further in the past.
  • Try to include only relevant employment history - similar to what you're applying for. Don't exclude jobs if it will leave huge holes in your CV though.
  • Don't just list responsibilities, but instead list skills based achievements relevant to the job you're applying to.
  • Think about the benefits your company received as a direct result of your achievements; did they save your previous employer money or time? 
  • It's not necessary to elaborate on any jobs that you held more than 15 years ago.

 

What if I have no relevant experience?

If you don't have anything relevant, try to highlight transferable skills and achievements.

Applicant Tracking System considerations

For this section, we've taken some of the most relevant tips from our article on how to make your CV ATS-friendly:

  • Don't use tables or text boxes;
  • Don't use fancy icons or bullets;
  • Don't list dates first. Position dates to the right of the document.

Formatting Tips

  • Instead of using tables to align dates on the right-hand-side of the document, try using tab stops. This is a great way to keep the document ATS friendly, at the same time as making it more appealing to the human eye.
  • Use a PAR (Problem Action Result) approach to writing achievements. I.e. In situation P (Problem), I did A (Action) which resulted in R (Result).
  • Keep it consistent.

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