How to create the perfect employment history section for your CV

Employment history for CV

One of the most important aspects of a CV is the work experience/history section. This is where the hiring manager will spend a good amount of time trying to evaluate what prior skills and experience you’ve gained over the years, and how that will benefit their company.

Jotting down all the tasks and responsibilities for each previous role is the standard way of demonstrating to an employer what you’ve achieved during your career – but is it really the best and only way?

Due to the abundance of free online resources at everybody’s disposal the quality of CVs has risen dramatically. This now means that an employer’s expectations have also risen, and when faced with such fierce competition you can’t risk writing a CV that conforms to the standard generic format.

One of the most effective ways to get your CV noticed is to add more depth into your work history section, and to go into more detail as to why you kicked ass during those jobs. To simply list the tasks and responsibilities is not going to provide a reason as to why you should be hired. However, if you provide examples of exceptional results and achievements, you are going to make a much bigger impact.

Here are a few examples of scenarios, results and achievements that could be added to your CV to get ahead of the competition.

Cutting costs 

Cutting costs

Changes you have suggested in the workplace which had a significant impact can help you make a great impression.

Every company likes to save money wherever possible, and if you can provide some great examples of a change you made that had a significant impact, you are going to make a great impression.

Someone who is willing to put an idea forward that could save money, is someone who is passionate and understanding of the business they work for – and an asset to the company! This kind of thinking is done at the management level, and would be an essential part of a management CV. However, if the previous role was not in management this would be even more impressive as it would demonstrate management qualities and the ability to think outside of the box.

A demonstration of how you cut costs is seen as a selfless act, which is quite rare to see in business. If there was no direct benefit to yourself, then you are clearly putting the interests of the business first. This kind of dedication and commitment is going to impress any employer.

Make sure you provide accurate numbers and results to clearly indicate the positive impact your idea had on the business, and even how it may have also benefited the customer. It would not be enough to merely state that you saved the company lots of money as anyone could make this claim. Provide the relevant facts and figures to back up this claim and you will create confidence in your CV.

Problem solving 

Problem solving

Problem solving is a desirable skill to employers, but you need to show, not tell.

No job goes without its fair share of problems, but it’s how you handle those issues that makes you a good problem solver – or not! Any employer would be expected to solve the usual daily minor issues on their own, but when it comes to much bigger issues you don’t always need to rely on your manager or supervisor.

Show examples of when you went that extra mile and solved a big problem on your own, and how that had a positive impact on a situation. Prove to the hiring manager that you are someone who steps up when the s**t hits the fan, and can handle the pressure when a big problem arises.

Again, don’t forget to provide the relevant details of the scenario so it is believable. Avoid any cliché statements that could easily be misunderstood as an embellishment of the truth. The more accurate information you can provide, the more likely you are to instil confidence in your abilities, and it also adds credibility to your CV. 

“Your ability to solve problems and make good decisions is the true measure of your skill as a leader.” ~ Brian Tracy

Time saved 

Time is money

The ability to improve processes, saving your employer time and therefore money, is always welcome in the workplace.

Time = money.

There are lots of ways you can demonstrate how you saved time within your role. It could be a process you changed that saved you or your team time, or it could be a process that you improved that saved time for the customer and gave them a better experience.

Saving time within a process or service can have huge benefits for all involved, and it shows your ability to think creatively. There are lots of employees that are happy to commit to the daily grind, but with no real care for how they could do something better and quicker. Make sure your CV shows that you are not one of these people, and you are always looking to save time wherever possible.

However, be careful not to give off the impression that you are only interested in saving time just to get the job done quicker. An idea that would save time should not have any negative effect on the job or the customer. The scenarios you provide within your CV should always be well thought out and only demonstrate where it benefited the company and the customer, and not just something that benefited you.

“One competent go-getter is worth one Hundred incompetent do-nothings.” – Kailin Gow, On Hiring a Winning Team

Team working – helping others 

Teamwork

Real examples of projects you’ve been involved with where you worked as a team help to show employers you can work well with others.

Every role has some kind of interaction with other employees, and most of the time you will be working as part of a team who are all looking to achieve the same goals. Every decision you make and every task you perform should always be in the best interests of your team, the company and the customer.

Try to avoid stating the obvious without backing it up – ‘I work great as part of a team and have great communication skills’. Everybody puts this on their CV, but not everyone backs it up with an actual detailed scenario of how you put those skills into practice.

Some great examples could include projects that you worked on with other team members, and how successful those projects were. Show instances of interaction between you and your other team members, and how working closely together you achieved certain goals.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford

Generated revenue and sales 

Results

Results speak volumes – although be careful not to take all the credit for joint/team efforts.

Providing examples of how you generated more money may not always be relevant for the role you are applying for. So be careful with adding this to your CV in case it gives off the wrong impression.

There are however lots of roles where examples of how you generated more revenue would be of great benefit to the employer. An obvious example would be a sales role, but even some customer service based roles might apply here too.

When it comes to a sales role you need to provide sales figures and targets met or exceeded – again, you should never be afraid to back up your claims with actual figures. For example, ‘I sold 21 cars in the month of August, 18 cars in July, and 22 cars in June’.

‘I constantly hit and exceeded my targets for the year of 2016’ – again, this would be another great example to give.

Other examples could relate to small process changes you made which generated more revenue. You don’t have to be involved directly with selling to a customer to come up with great ideas that have a positive impact on revenue. Even just a small change could generate hundreds or even thousands of pounds of extra revenue, so make sure this is explained on your CV. 

“Companies that get confused, that think their goal is revenue or stock price or something. You have to focus on the things that lead to those.” ~ Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Awards and recognition 

Awards

Credible awards can provide desirable third-party verification of your skills and achievements to prospective employers.

Employers love to see awards and examples of recognition on a CV – from employee of the month to promotions. But rather than just stating what you achieved, you should also explain how and why you were awarded or recognised for your outstanding performance.

Why did you get employee of the month?

What did you do differently to achieve this award?

Promotions are also a great way of showing an employer your career progression, ambition and drive. Why were you given a promotion? By answering this question you should be able to detail some of the exceptional aspects of your performance, and give a step by step guide (keep it concise) as to how you gained that promotion.

Relevant roles 

Relevant job roles

Provide more detail for relevant positions, or those which showcase the skills sought by the prospective employer.

When including additional information using the examples above to guide you, it’s important to remember that you are adding a lot of extra content to your CV which could be information overload for the employer. You have to be careful not to over explain a scenario or provide too many numbers and stats. Keep everything short and concise, and consider using bullet points to space everything out correctly and ensure your CV remains professional and easy to read.

A great way to keep your work history section to two or three pages is to only provide information for the relevant roles. In other words, only list all the tasks and responsibilities for past roles that have a significant bearing on the role you are now applying for.

An employer is only really interested in seeing what previous experience you have that would benefit them, as well as your most recent roles. If you have a huge list of past roles and an even bigger list of tasks and responsibilities, you should consider narrowing that down to only include the relevant and most important information.

One of the best ways to do this is to take note of the job advert to see the kinds of keywords used in describing what they are looking for. Using the advert as well as your knowledge of what would be expected within the role, should provide you with enough information to leave your work history section only highlighting what’s important to the employer.

Find out more: You may also find our CV examples helpful when putting your own CV together.

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