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How To Structure Your CV Work Experience Section

Surveys have shown that 91% of employers require candidates to have relevant employer experience. What does this mean for you? The work experience section of your CV needs to be accurate, highlights your achievements and includes relevant points that prove you’re the right person for the job.

Be smart! Ensure that your CV work experience section is compelling. It should grab the employer’s attention in seconds. Here is a step by step guide on how to structure this section in your CV;

Use a clear heading

Clearly label your CV employment experience section with one of the headings below:

  • Employment History
  • Work Background
  • Professional Experience
  • Industry Experience
  • Professional History

Be factual

All aspects of your CV, including your dates of employment, must be factually correct. If you have a gap in employment and are worried about how this may come across, you can always enter dates as month-to-month or even year-to-year, rather than specific dates.

For jobs that were many years ago, or if you’ve had a number of jobs in a relatively short period, you can group these jobs, for example, ‘2001-2003 worked in temporary roles within the retail sector’.

List Work Experience in Reverse Chronological Order

Begin with your present or last job, then the job before it. It is only natural that your current job or most recent job will get the most attention. So, lead with it at the top of the work experience section.

Use clear work experience descriptions

When you write job descriptions, include:

  • Job title
  • Company name and location
  • Year and month started, and finished

For example:

Bank Teller | March 2014– July 2020
National Bank of Kenya Harambee Avenue, Nairobi

Tailor it to suit the job description

Is your experience relevant to the job? Research the job details and personal specifications for the type of job you want. Then, under each of the jobs in your experience section, use bullet points to illustrate that you have exactly the skills and expertise they’re after.

Remember to be specific. If they want sales experience, then specify how many customers you dealt with, the types of responsibilities you had and give an example to show off your skills.

For example: ‘I have experience in a demanding sales role where I was required to meet monthly customer targets. I dealt with X customers on a daily basis making X amount of sales in a period of X months, exceeding my target by X%. This role taught me how to handle a busy and dynamic environment. I learnt to adapt to different customer needs to meet my monthly goals.’

Voluntary work/extra-curricular activities counts

Where you have limited work experience, or are looking to change career entirely, other experience outside of paid employment could show your capabilities. This might include unpaid work placements, trainings, and community activities, such as working with a charity or being a student representative for your course. For example, if you’re applying for an NGO job, the employer may be interested to see previous voluntary work at a community centre or an orphanage.

Employers will respond positively to reading about any extracurricular activities you’re involved in, especially if they demonstrate energy and community spirit, because these are exactly the kind of behaviours they want in their employees.

Highlight your achievements

Many job hunters faithfully list the duties they performed and their responsibilities. However, they fail to show the positive impact of their teamwork or contribution to the organisation as a whole.

Ensure you don’t make this mistake by using achievement statements instead. For instance:

“Trained 50 staff in Excel, which increased the capabilities of employees and their time efficiency in producing reports”

The example shows how you can expand upon your skills and show how you have delivered meaningful results to the organisation.

What next…..

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