Two key sections of your CV are your education and work experience. If you don’t get these right then your CV will go in the bin immediately. This article will help you to write these sections and sell yourself effectively.
A CV should not contain details about everything you have ever done. Think about what is relevant for THIS job. For example, if you have many degrees and postgraduate qualifications and the job for which you are applying is very senior, there is no need to include details of your O Levels or GCSEs.
When writing your employment history only include jobs that will be relevant, either in terms of skills, knowledge or experience to the job you are currently applying for.
Do not have large gaps in your employment history. If there are months or years where you were without a job, then make the reason clear on your CV. No need to go into detail about your circumstances; interviewers will question you about this further if necessary.
List both education and employment achievements with the most recent first. This is because your recent attainments are likely to be more relevant and you will impress the employer more by doing this.
Try not to write long sections of prose. Stick to bullet points. Interviewers will ask you to elaborate; you don’t have to say everything on your CV.
List your qualifications in order of the most recent and most relevant first.
Give details on the title of your qualification, where you studied, the grade you were awarded and the date you achieved it. If you do not feel comfortable listing the grades you achieved then be consistent in the information that is displayed.
If you have a PhD, give the full title of the PhD and the name(s) of your supervisors.
Do not include qualifications with no relevance to the job.
You can include qualifications for which you are currently working as long as you make it clear that you have not completed them yet.
For university education, if you studied something directly related to the role you are going for, you can provide more details of your knowledge by including modules, projects and your dissertation.
Most people write chronological CVs, so list your jobs in order of the most recent and most relevant first. If you would rather write a skills-based CV, divide your employment history into themes. If you have experience in marketing which is essential to the role you could have a subheading for ‘Marketing Experience’ first.
Include the full job title, a brief summary of responsibilities, and start and finish dates.
Make sure the job title, dates etc are accurate, but the most important part is the list of your duties/responsibilities, so take your time over describing those. You want to tailor them for each job you apply for because you are trying to show that your experience from previous jobs makes you ideal for this one.
Be specific when outlining your duties. Employers want to read about transferable skills, achievements and responsibilities. Consider what you have done, how you did it and what the outcome was. Bullet points must be personal, not generic. Do not copy and paste your job description on to your CV. If you are applying for a role in PR and have previously done that job, then perhaps your list of duties will look something like this:
-Creation and distribution of press releases.
-Developing strong relationships within the media.
-Reviewing and proofing press documents.
-Assisting with the development of media campaign strategies.
What if I haven’t done the job before or have little work experience?
You can still use your previous work history to sell yourself even if you have done jobs which you feel are irrelevant. For example, working behind a bar or in a shop will have given you the chance to display leadership skills, team working experience, customer service skills or business development skills.
If you have little work experience because you have been out of work due to personal or family reasons, then you can emphasise the personal skills and attributes that you have. Perhaps a club, hobby or charity work has given you the chance to show similar skills.
For further CV tips see:
- How To Write A Good CV
- Is Your CV Too Long? 6 Effective Fixes
- The Questions Your CV Really Needs to Answer
- CV Writing: Which Words Will Open Doors on a CV?
Iva Bickers says
I agree with you
Gillian Bryant says
Good morning, Nadine,
Thanks for writing such a helpful article. It’s given me fresh hope for a successful re-entry into the job market, which I left three years ago!