The Work Experience Section on your CV
The work experience section of the CV is essentially the main chunk of information that pieces everything together. Your work experience is the largest part of your CV and consequently, the part that employers often refer to in order to link your entire experience and general profile together with the compatibility of the work profile they are seeking. ///in accordance with the job position for which you’re applying.
For some, this section can be daunting if you are entering a sector with little or no experience. Alternatively, for others it can be complex and an experienced jobseeker may have to scale down and prioritise certain work experience to fit profile requirements for a specific job application.
Either way, whether you have little, no, or a lot of experience, everyone has a CV. The work experience section of the CV can be difficult to tackle and all jobseekers find themselves asking what they should and shouldn’t include, how they should and shouldn’t do it. If before reading about the work section of the CV, you’d rather brush up on CV writing in general, have a read on our how to write a CV page.
This guide offers you a better understanding of how to write the work experience section of your CV and hopefully answers all your questions, so that you can get started right away!
Writing the Experience Section on a CV
The first thing you should do is establish a title for the work experience section. Each part of your CV should have a title, such as Education, Skills, etc.
Top tip: Make sure all titles are capitalised correctly!
The standard title and most common is Work Experience, though it isn’t uncommon to see Employment History, Relevant Experience or Work History. In the case that you are applying for a certain job position and would like to title it Relevant Experience in order to show how well equipped with experience you are for the job, that would also be appropriate.
Whichever title you do choose, ensure that it summarises this section of your CV well.
You need to establish a structure and clear layout for the organisation of your work experience. Employers need to be able to glide through your work experience without questioning why you’ve decided to align the half of your job descriptions to centre, and the rest to the left.
Top tip: list your work experience in reverse chronological order.
Read up on how to lay out a CV if you’ve found yourself wondering about the bigger picture and not just the work experience section!
Keep your job descriptions pertinent to the job role you are seeking. Demonstrate your skills through explaining your previous work experience. For example, if you are applying for a job that requires cooperative teamwork and in your previous job you worked in a team, make it a key point in the job description.
Be wary about leaving large gaps between employment. Employers will often observe contract duration and time between employment to assess your employability rate. It’s better to include a job you worked at for 3 years, even if it isn’t relevant to your current or desired work sector.
If you are writing a cover letter for a job application as well, ensure that no information is duplicated. Rewriting your CV in cover letter format is not the purpose of a cover letter. Your CV lists and describes, whereas your cover letter explains and persuades.
How to show your professional experience on a CV
Writing your work experience isn’t just about showing where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. You can use this section of your CV to your advantage by showing employers why you are suitable for the job post.
Sounding professional is the first step to being professional. Your writing needs to be coherent, concise and also spark the recruiter’s interest.
There are various CV templates you can choose from to tailor to your professional needs. Whether you are entering the working world or have over 20 years of experience, everyone needs a CV and they can be equally professional regardless of the amount of experience you have. Using a CV maker is also useful for viewing CV examples and format ideas, as well as familiarising yourself with the process of writing a CV.
Maintain a standard CV format and list your work experience in a reverse chronological format. The work experience section of your CV is priority, meaning that it should be placed at the beginning or centre of the document, at least. However, if you have recently graduated or completed other significant studies, you may consider listing the education section first on your CV. Read more about how to write the education section of your CV here.
What to include in the work experience section
This section of the guide explains and also lists everything that you should and shouldn’t include in the work experience section of your CV.
Including every single detail about your work experience is not necessary. Instead, you should carefully select the features and characteristics of previous jobs that compliment your desired work position. You want to make your CV to stand out from the rest!
What to include:
- Job title
- Company or organisation
- Job location
- Dates of employment
- Short description of the job
Not only is this the official job title, but this title will give your employer an instant idea about the job. People often generalise so it’s important to be accurate and impress with your job description, as well.
If while working at your last job you were an Administrative assistant, but you were also the designated French translator for the company, you should include translator in the title. e.g. Administrative assistant & translator.
Company or organisation
This is fairly simple. The only thing that can catch you out here, is copy and paste. People often copy and paste the text box of job descriptions in order to maintain the CV format. This is absolutely fine, providing that you change all of the correct information correctly. If you have 6 different jobs listed in your work experience section, but they were all at the same company, not only is it incorrect and shows lack of proofreading, but it’s also unimpressive!
Don’t forget: capitalise the name of the company!
This is a basic piece of information that you can add after the company name. This is also beneficial if you work in or are entering a international sector and wish to show that you have work experience in the sector.
Dates of employment
Be accurate with dates! When writing a CV, it is crucial to be meticulous with important details such as dates. Usually dating the start and finish of your contract with the month and year is sufficient. Months should be capitalised and can be abbreviated.
Example: Mar 2018 – Sept 2019
Make sure that your start and finish dates match up between each job and that they don’t overlap. If you have a large time gap between jobs, it might be a good idea to explain why. For example, study leave. This helps to create an organised and clear CV!
This can be tricky, as it is vital to capture a rounded summary of your tasks, responsibilities and skills. Try to tailor the descriptions of your job positions to the job application which will strengthen your CV profile against competitors.
It is common to bullet point your job description (3 – 4 bullet points), but you can also write a small paragraph (3 or 4 sentences).
In your job description you can explain:
Be selective and really highlight your best achievements and abilities.
Tips for writing your previous work experience
Try not to repeat the same skills or work tasks too much. It can look repetitive and as though you are trying to bulk out the text and fill the gaps. Listing responsibilities as well as tasks and skills of a job can be an effective way of demonstrating that you are reliable and capable of responsibility.
Don’t forget about voluntary jobs or work placements. This is practical for students or those with less work experience. It also shows commitment and a hardworking character, as well as the desire to learn and develop.
It’s important to explain elaborately without writing an essay. Many choose a bullet point format for the work experience section which makes it easier to list your skills, tasks and responsibilities.
Formatting the experience section on a CV
Formatting your work experience may seem a simple task, yet this seems to be a key point where many jobseekers make accidental mistakes. Of course, the initial formatting can be made much easier when using an Online CV Builder, but there are also other aspects that are important, as well. After all, when your employers read about your work experience, you want them to be focusing on you, not your poor spacing or excessive variety of font!
- Font, sizes, alignment; keep it consistent. How hard can it be, right? Well surprisingly, these tiny details are easy to miss and do not look good when presenting your CV to employers. Copy and paste can play culprit to many of these mistakes, so it’s crucial to reread through your CV to make sure your style is consistent.
- Spacing: line and word spacing, as well as double spaces (double spaces are minor, though you wouldn’t want them everywhere, either).
- Structure: your work experience should be in reverse chronological order.
- Copy and paste verification (make sure if you are copy and pasting in order to follow the same format, you change the information!).
- Make a checklist. As unnecessary as this may seem, it will save you a lot of time. We’ll even go ahead and provide you with a mini checklist below to save you even more time.
- Reread the work experience section of your CV at least twice.
- Font size
- Layout and Alignment
- Copy and paste verification
The work experience section of your CV is the largest part, and consequently the largest section to format. You can make this process a whole lot easier with a ready-made template from Online CV where the main format and structure is already laid out. CV makers are great for more than just displaying your information correctly, as there are a variety of designs and formats to choose from and they are also categorised into types of CV, such as student CV, professional CV, etc.