The outline of your work experience should normally begin on the first page of your CV / résumé. If there are no specific reasons against a chronological order of your work history (see my notes on exceptions below), make sure to put your current position (if you are out of work, your most recent one) at the top, below the one before, etc. This way, together with your contact information, your current “overall” job title, and your summary, the most important information is all displayed on page 1.
Even though it is still widespread and I’ve done it myself in the past, I now advise against using a tabular layout. You would just lose too much valuable “advertising” space, especially on the first page of your document. The example further below demonstrates that you can place the duration of the jobs you had in other formats clearly without having to waste an entire column.
As you already know, the mere mentioning of previous tasks and responsibilities is NOT sufficient here, even if this is common and unfortunately often implied in many sample documents and templates. For a truly selling representation of your relevant experiences, you must also convey the respective achievements and thus always show the benefit of your work to your former employers (and / or customers). In other words, how you contributed to the success of the companies in particular. If this difference is not yet 100% clear to you, please read this page first: Gain interest through your previous achievements.
> Example of a corresponding entry
Here is an example of a convincing entry:
|10/2011 – 04/2018 | iShoppers Paradise S.A., Madrid, Spain|
|Team Lead E-commerce in Management Accounting|
|Tasks and responsibilities|
The most important elements you can discover in the example above are:
- The entry is concise and allows a clear understanding of the applicant’s previous tasks and responsibilities.
- The entry presents both the relevant knowledge as well as the practical skills.
- The entry correctly presents soft skills only indirectly by naming resulting achievements.
- The entry shows the value of the applicant’s work for the employer.
- The entry uses bullet points instead of full sentences.
- The entry avoids using a tabular format thus making the most of the limited “marketing” space available on the first (and most important) page of the CV / résumé.
- The entry uses the persuasive power of numbers, which are highlighted by writing them as digits.
There are situations where a chronological order of your employment history should not be used or should only be used with caution. This is the case, for example, if you are a first-time job entrant or want to change industries. It also applies to all other situations in which such a presentation would not paint the best possible picture of you.
Even if a chronological order was requested, in the end, the CV / résumé is YOUR document and not that of the hiring manager! And only YOU decide what it should look like. You should always choose the best option for YOURSELF and, if necessary, ignore the wishes of the hiring company as to what your document should look like. Here is why: How high is the chance of being invited to an interview if your CV / résumé portrays you in a less than positive light? Very likely, there is none at all. So, just go for a better option!
In most such cases, however, you can get away well with a combined version. The really relevant aspects are presented as interesting as possible in another, more suitable format on the first page and the chronological list is left short and rather boring on page 2.
Generally speaking, it makes sense to present your recent jobs in more detail and the older ones somewhat shorter. However, it is important that personal development can be identified over the entire period. In your presentation, the responsibility transferred should therefore grow steadily, the projects should become larger and larger, sales volume or similar should increase, etc.
References to all kinds of general job training can, but do not have to, be included in the employment history. If there is no specific reason why you would like to mention a course etc. there, the category “Education and qualifications” is usually better suited. Whichever of the two options you pick, make sure you do not include these entries twice!
Special case: Multiple positions with the same employer
If you were employed by the same employer for a long time, or if you held different positions within the same company, you should present this development in the company as if you had worked for several different employers. It should still be clear to see that you worked for the same employer the entire time, but you should present the individual positions separately. In such a situation it is not a good idea to simply mention the most recent position. That could convey the wrong image that you started in it a long time ago already but unfortunately have not developed further despite the length of time.
How to present your soft skills
Having the right soft skills is often relevant to the degree of success even in rather technical positions, which is why a convincing presentation of them can play a decisive role in the positive outcome of your job application.
Unfortunately, many applicants present their soft skills in the same way they mention their technical skills in their application documents. That quickly sounds awkward and is not convincing at all. I have dedicated a separate page to this topic where I explain the reason for it and how you can do better easily.
Do you want even more tips and tricks for your own CV / résumé?
Now that you know what to pay attention to when writing your CV / résumé, here are two more ways to really go for it and not just write your CV / résumé but actually “design” it! 🙂
> Email course “How to Write a Power CV / Résumé”
Book my email course “How to Write a Power CV / Résumé” now to implement these and many other tips and tricks step by step in your own CV / résumé in a very convenient way. In each lesson, my concrete examples, instructions, and tasks will help you put theory into practice. This way, you can create a persuasive CV / résumé for yourself quickly and easily.
> Is your situation particularly difficult?
I will be happy to coach you in person if my already demanding workload allows it. If you are interested, feel free to contact me.
On August 24th, Mr. Ngoni G. from Grand Baie wrote to me:
»We worked together to develop a CV that I am now confident in, my CV has successfully highlighted my strengths, and career expertise.«