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How to write your CV employment history and education

Find out how to include employment history and education in your CV as we discuss structure, what to include, and other top tips.

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When it comes to writing a CV, it can be tempting to treat it as one continuous document. While it may end up as one when it reaches potential employers, crafting it requires more of a segmented approach.

Each section has a purpose, which means you’ll need to spend time making sure each part is up to scratch. Two of the most essential areas are your employment history and education. 

These areas can go a long way in demonstrating why you’re a good candidate for a role. However, get them wrong, and you could muddy the waters significantly. In this article, we take a look at what you need to include in each section, and why they play such an important part of your overall document.

CV basics

If you’re just starting out on your CV writing expedition, you might want to check out some of our other articles first. In our CV Basics: Info and Profile article, we take a look at some of the essentials you need to keep in mind when crafting your CV. It explores things like the length, format, and language you should use, as well as how to write your personal information and personal profile. 

You can also check out our article on free CV templates. Here, you’ll get some useful insight on some of the sections you’ll want to include, as well as some examples of how to structure them. 

If you already have a CV and want professional feedback for free, check out our free CV review tool. With this free tool, you’ll receive personalised and in-depth CV advice from the CV-writing experts at TopCV in just two days.

If you’re in the process of applying for jobs, you may want to prepare for the next step and check out our How to succeed at: Interviews course.

How to include employment history and experience on your CV

The employment history section of your CV is often one of the most interesting ones for hiring managers. It should easily show them what kind of work you’ve done, where you’ve done it, and for how long. 

If you’ve already gained some experience, you might find this section has the potential to take up a lot of space. On the other hand, if you’ve not had many (or any) jobs in the past, you could be faced with a daunting task. It’s therefore worth knowing what’s worth including and what you can leave out:

What to include in your employment history

Let’s start with the types of things you’ll want to include in this segment. Again, some of these will depend on the roles you’re applying for and the seniority of the role. But, as a guideline, you’ll want to note: 

  • Permanent jobs 
  • Temporary/part-time jobs 
  • Contract roles 
  • Internships and work placements 
  • Saturday/summer jobs 
  • Voluntary work 

Naturally, someone with 10 years experience applying for a management role won’t need to include details of the summer job they had before university. You’ll have to use your judgement here and decide which ones are relevant to the position(s) you’re currently applying for.

What to leave out of your employment history

In some instances, rather than leaving out roles that aren’t relevant, you may just want to leave out all the minute details. For example, if there are gaps in your professional experience, you may want to add in a line that explains what you were doing during that period. That being said, there are some things you don’t need to include: 

  • Contact details of your previous employer or manager 
  • A job description instead of your achievements/experience 
  • A list of roles from years ago 
  • Unnecessary details and jargon that the reader won’t understand

Removing these elements not only makes the section shorter, but also gives hiring managers the chance to get only the most relevant information.

What details should you add to your employment history

Although there are several ways that you can highlight the employment history section of a CV, there are some elements that you should always include: 

  • Your job title: Avoid any embellishment or non-industry terms here. It should be clear to the recruiter what your role was or is. 
  • The company’s name: Here, you should use the name that the organisation is best known by. It should be either easily recognisable or straightforward to research. 
  • Location: Some people like to include the city/country where the job was based. You don’t need to add a full address, however. 
  • Employment dates: You need to outline the month and year that you started/finished a role. If you’re still there, use something along the lines of ‘May 2022 – Present’.
  • Experience: This should be a brief summary of your main duties, responsibilities, and achievements while in the role. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, but should cover the skills and experience that are relevant to the positions you’re applying for.

How to structure your employment history

Your employment history section can take several forms, often depending on the types of jobs you’re applying for. However, you should avoid simply listing out a series of job descriptions. Employers want to see instances where you’ve used your skills, hit goals, and achieved things in your previous jobs. 

It’s always useful to quantify your results and highlight your impact at previous roles in this section. For example, you might want to include something like ‘helped successfully deliver the highest trading day of the year’ or similar. You should also avoid overly long paragraphs and sentences. Keep things simple, clear, and to the point. 

Try to avoid using buzzwords and clichés in your employment history (and the rest of your CV). Instead, use action verbs like coordinate, integrate, guide, and complete to showcase the positive steps you’ve taken.

Additional information for adding employment history to your CV

There are several other points that you should keep in mind when writing this section: 

  • Arrange your list of jobs in chronological order, making sure that your most recent or current one is at the top. 
  • For the heading name, ‘employment history’ or ‘professional experience’ are usually appropriate. However, if your professional experience is limited, you might want to go with ‘work experience’. A skills-based CV might also be a good choice if this is the case. 
  • If you do have employment gaps in your experience, make sure they’re explained either in your education section (if appropriate) or in your cover letter.

How to include Education on your CV

Typically, your education section will follow your employment history. It’s another important area of your CV, and depending on the stage of your career, could be crucial in finding a job. As with the previous section, a large amount of it depends on your current situation. However, the more relevant job experience you have, the less detailed this section might be. 

It’s not just school and university grades you should cover here either. You may want to add any additional qualifications or professional certificates to your CV. You can even add a separate section for those you’ve achieved whilst working.

We’ve highlighted how you can structure your education section depending on the stage of career you’re at: 

How to add education to your CV for recent school leavers

If you’ve only just left school, you’ll want to focus on your GCSEs, A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. Many employers at this level won’t be expecting a lot of experience, so you can put more of an emphasis on your education. 

You should highlight core subjects like Maths, English, and Science, including the results you achieved if they’re particularly strong. Aside from that, you can also list the subjects you took and, optionally, the grades you achieved. You should also highlight any other accomplishments from your time at school.

How to add education to your CV for recent university graduates

If you have a degree, this should be the focal point of your CV’s education section. You don’t have to include details of specific modules, although it may help if you’re applying for jobs where this information is relevant. 

After your university education, you can briefly highlight your secondary education below. Rather than focusing on specific subjects, you can simply list out the number of qualifications and the range of grades. For example, ’11 GCSEs grade A-C/9-4’.

How to add education to your CV for established professionals

Once you have some industry experience behind you, your education and qualifications are sometimes less relevant (depending on your field, of course). If you have recent professional certificates, these are likely to be of more interest to employers than your GCSE results from 10 years ago. 

In the same way that you don’t have to write at length about your unrelated work experience, you can keep your education as a relatively short list here. You should outline the dates you achieved your results and a brief summary of what they were.

Additional information for adding education to your CV

As you can tell, your CV’s education section is largely dependent on your circumstances. As such, you need to tailor it accordingly. However, there are some things to keep in mind no matter what stage you’re at: 

  • Keep it clear: This section should be easy for potential employers to scan. Make sure to include the dates and institution name, and only give as much detail as is necessary. 
  • Start with the most recent: As with your employment history, add the most relevant/current qualifications first and work your way back.
  • Only include the grades you’re proud of: This point is particularly true if you finished your education a while ago. You don’t need to highlight every single score, so pick out the impressive ones.
  • Give more details if needed: If you’re applying for an education-based role, your grades and qualifications may be more relevant. If so, make sure to cover everything the employer needs at a glance.

If you’d like to learn more about writing the perfect CV, check out our How to succeed at: writing applications course.

Final Thoughts 

These two key sections play an important role in your overall CV. However, they’re going to be quite different depending on the stage of your career and the types of jobs you’re applying to. Perhaps the best advice is to think about how relevant an employer is going to find your employment history and education. You can then make each section as detailed of brief as it needs to be. 

Once you’re done with these sections, you can start thinking about perfecting the rest of your CV. If you want to boost your employability with free personalised CV recommendations, claim your free CV review and receive free professional advice from experts in just two days.

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