CV Breakdown - Writing up Your Past Work Experience - Part 1 - the Job Description

CV Breakdown - Writing up Your Past Work Experience - Part 1 - the Job Description

Your past work experience is likely going to be one of the first things a recruiter zeroes in on when they look at your CV. It gives them a quick overview of exactly what you've done, the responsibilities you've taken on and the achievements across your career.

While there is no catch all "golden ticket" CV that's going to land you every job you apply for, this four part series aims to guide you through each element of documenting your work experience, how to stand out, stay relevant and write in the best formats to get you noticed before finishing up in part 4 with some practical examples you can apply to your own CV.

These aren't hard and fast rules though and you can always add your own personal twist to your CV. We'll start with the basics in part 1 though, getting your job description right.

The Job Description

This is your job title, the core tasks of that job and how many years you were in that role. While it might seem very straightforward you'll need to take care not to overload this section. You'll want to save your vital CV space to really sell yourself through your responsibilities and achievements later on.

What To Write

The simpler you can keep things at this stage the better, and remember to be selective. Don't just have a long bullet point list outlining every single thing you ever did in this role, keep things relevant and clear.

The following format usually works well and doesn't take up too much space:

From 20XX to 20XX - Job title company name and location - Very brief outline covering the top two or three tasks covered by this role.

How You Should Write It

Go in chronological order with your most recent work experience first as this is what an employer is going to be most interested in. Covering the previous 10 years of employment history is usually sufficient but if you have even more relevant roles feel free to go back even further.

Just remember to be very clear and very obvious, don't use walls of text or make it difficult for a recruiter to see what you've done. It should be easy for them to quickly scan down in just a few seconds and see exactly what jobs you've had and how they're relevant.

Although, if you've been out of work for some time, have limited experience or are just applying for your first ever job, feel free to skip the chronological order and start of with the jobs and experiences that are most relevant to the role you're applying for, sometimes known as a skills based format.

In other cases your education might be more relevant or even your only experience you have so feel free to lead with qualifications too.

And always remember to add a brief description to any career gaps. Most employers are very understanding of people who have taken career breaks for personal reasons or don't have any experience.

Simply note what you were doing between roles, whether you were doing any training or volunteer work during these interim periods and you won't leave the employer guessing as to what you were doing in those interim periods.

You can also list any important personal experiences too as long as they're relevant to the role you're applying for.

How Long Should This Section Be?

The quick answer? Short. You just want to get to the point. The description of the job only needs to convey what the role was and briefly what you did, aim for no more than 25 to 50 words in total for the description.

Save that vital space for where you'll really get a chance to shine; describing your responsibilities and achievements which we've covered in parts 2 and 3 of this series.

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