CV Structure Part 4: Career History

Content CV guide 4

CV Structure Part 4: Career History

This is where a decision on calling you to interview you be made

The career history section is the most important as this is generally where a decision will be made on whether to invite you to interview. You can have all the right qualifications (tick), the requisite skills (tick) but ultimately it is what you do with them that counts. The career history is where you show what you have done and by inference, what you can do for a new employer (big tick). In a 2 page CV you want the career history section to be taking up about two thirds of the space.

Focus on the most recent years of your career

For many people, their most recent roles are going to be closest aligned to the jobs being targeted. Focus your career history on the most recent 5 or so years of your career. Certainly, jobs carried out more than 10 years ago can be summarised. Lots of CVs have an imbalance of information with too much information on the earlier jobs. This is because often people become less enthusiastic about writing their CV over time. But think about your audience – they want to know about what you have being doing most recently.

Each employment should tell a story

Do not be tempted by copying and pasting a generic job description. The reader knows what a ‘financial analyst’ does – they are recruiting for one. What they want to know is why you should be considered. So, give information on your actual experience. Ground the CV in your practical experience rather than a hypothetical job description. This is much more meaningful and impactful.

Three parts to the most recent roles

For roles carried out in the last 5 years you can include information for each of the following for those roles. 

Describe the organisation

It is always good practice to give a brief overview of the organisation you work for. What services or products do they provide? You can also include information on the turnover or structure of the organisation as this provides context and meaning to your role.

Summarise what you do

Give a brief overview of the purpose of your role and the scope of your responsibilities. In leadership roles you will want to emphasise the size of teams you lead, budgets you manage and other management responsibilities.

Give specific examples of achievements

Most of the information should be dedicated to giving specific examples of achievements. These could be change or transformation strategies you have designed and implemented and what the results and outcomes have been. Any projects, initiatives, or improvements to processes or procedures are also achievements. Focus on the outcomes. How did this benefit the organisation? Did it reduce costs? If so, by how much? Did it boost productivity or profitability? Most achievements can be derived to a fact or figure and it always look good to recruiters to have concrete evidence of outcomes.

This article is written by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers.

CV Writers are the official CV partner to ACCA Careers.

In addition to a CV writing service they can help with careers counselling, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters and interview coaching. You can get things started with a Free CV Review.

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