In today’s super competitive jobs market, recruiters look more closely at your work experience than anything else.

That’s because it tells them if you’re qualified enough for a job. Its where all the juicy bits of your real-life experience, skills and abilities are. Standing above the other sections in terms of importance, it can be seen as the core of your CV, around which everything else is built.

Use it to show what you’ve achieved in your previous jobs and convince employers that you can bring the same level of performance to their operations.

This guide will show you how to write a captivating career history that will hook the reader. Avoid the one-way street to job rejection by following the advice and tips on this page and writing a CV that is laser focused on winning you an interview.

Learn the steps needed to effectively write, organise, and format all your jobs on a CV.

By: Iejaz Uddin – 20 May 2024


Page overview

  • What is a CV work experience section?
  • The importance of work experience in your CV
  • How to write your work experience in a CV
  • Target your work experience at the job
  • How far back should your work experience go?


What is a CV work experience section?

This is where you list your career history and prove your professional credentials. It’s a section where you don’t just show what you did, but also how well you did it.

Also known as your career experience or employment history, its fundamental to a successful job application for both seasoned professionals or people just starting out.

As it contains information and insights about each position you’ve ever held, it must be accurate, and detail focused.


The importance of work experience in your CV

When reading a CV many hiring managers will skip the personal summary and quickly scan the candidate’s previous career to see if they’re worth shortlisting. As a snapshot of your career path, it can help recruiters understand your background better and give them an idea of where you’re coming from.

Most importantly though, it can show that you have the desired familiarity, awareness and understanding of what their vacancy requires.

If written properly it can prove you’re the best candidate for the job.


How to write your work experience in a CV

This is often the trickiest CV sections to get right as it must be clear and concise, yet descriptive.

The key to writing an effective work experience section is to focus on your most relevant responsibilities, results, and achievements. Use it to put flesh and bones on your CV by showing the competency of your work, the level of experience you have and how well you carried out your duties.

A basic work experience layout will include:

  • Your job title
  • Employers name
  • Location
  • Dates of employment
  • Between two and six bullet points that briefly explain your duties.


Example of how to write your work experience:


How to write work experience on a CV


1. Make a list of your career history

The first step towards creating your work experience section is to compile a catalogue of your former companies and roles. In chronological order, begin with your current or last one and work backwards to your first job. For each one write down the job title, company name and employment dates.


2. Select the experience to include on your CV

The next stage is to go through your list of previous employers and pick out those past duties and responsibilities that are relevant to the current position you’re applying for.

These are the ones that will strengthen your CV, and which should be included.

For example, if the vacancy requires you to have office administration experience, then write about the clerical duties you performed. Doing this demonstrates to the recruiter that you are familiar with the requirements of their role.

It can also impress them by showing that you’ve taken the time to write something especially for them. Additionally, it’s also a good way of including relevant keywords and phrases that will get you past an ATS.


Volunteering work experience and internships

If you’ve done any recent and relevant unpaid work, then you should list that as well.

It’s a good ideal to list your volunteering experience in your CV if you are a student or graduate. Doing so can help young people who have been studying to compensate for any lack of experience they have in the role they want.


Jobs to exclude from you CV

You do not have to give a detailed description of every job you’ve ever held. This is especially applicable for candidates who have been job hopping during their career. For instance, it’s acceptable to omit previous short term jobs that only lasted a few weeks or less than 6 months.

Jobs you can leave out;

  • Short-term positions.
  • Part time stints and side projects.
  • Jobs from a long time ago.
  • Your employer had a bad reputation.


If you’re short of CV space, then it’s acceptable to leave jobs off your CV if you feel that don’t add any weight to it. However, remember that if you omit a job, it can lead to a gap in your work history.  This in turn could raise questions in the employer’s mind.


Jobs to include in your CV

Do not leave out jobs if:

  • It was a long term position.
  • You do not have a lot of work experience at all.
  • It’s relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • You are applying for a job that needs security clearance.
  • You had a lot of achievements there or won awards and honours.



Further prove your credibility by including all the right and relevant accomplishments. It’s a great way to beat the competition by offering compelling evidence of your accomplishments through plenty of context and quantifiable results.

Use positive language to tell a potential employer what you can do for them rather than what you can’t.

If possible, back up your claims through percentages, figures, and statistics to demonstrate how your actions contributed to the company’s success. Also, do not just have a column listing your work duties, instead use the CAR (Challenge Action Results) formula to framework your performance.

There are 2 ways you can include achievements in your CV. The first is by incorporating them into your main work duties. The second is by having a separate ‘Achievements’ section under the last bullet point of a particular role and listing your accomplishments there.



If you were promoted whilst working for the same company, then list these in your employment history. An upward career trajectory shows your ambition and proven ability, both sought after traits.


3. Structure your work experience

Aim to neatly set out that information that you want the recruiter to see and that they are looking for. The best was to do this is by having a format that sets everything out clearly. The layout to use depends on your work history, industry, and the type of job you’re applying for.

Here are the two main one’s that candidates use and recruiters like:


Chronological layout

In general, the backward chronological order works best for most job seekers. It’s a great way of showing where your strengths lie, and what you have achieved.


Functional layout

This is ideal for people with little or no work experience as it is organized and led by an individual’s skills rather than their previous job titles. In a functional CV your competencies go at the top of the page, below any limited work experience.


4. Start with your most current and work backwards

With experienced candidates, hiring managers are more interested in your recent employment than anything else. The standard way is to put your work experience in reverse chronological order. Meaning you start with your current or most recent job and work backwards till your last one.


5. What to include in your work experience

At a minimum you need to include the:

  • Job title
  • Employers name
  • Location
  • Employment dates
  • Your duties
  • Promotions
  • Accomplishments


If you are still employed then use the word ‘Present’ as the end date, For instance ‘2022 – Present’.


Bullet points

Under each of your past roles, use between 4 to 6 bullet pointed sentences to describe your work duties. As a rule of thumb use more bullet points for recent positions and less for older ones. For instance, use 6 bullet points for current jobs and only 2 or even none for those 10 years old.


Use action verbs

Avoid starting each sentence with the usual ‘Responsible for…’ and instead begin each line with words like completed, launched, accomplished, and transformed.


Job title

Make this standout from the surrounding text by making it bold or writing it in capital letters.


6. Where to put the work experience section on your CV

Due to its importance, this field nearly always goes at the top of a CV, usually just below the personal summary. Here is its position in the CV pecking order:

  1. Name and contact details
  2. Personal summary
  3. Work experience
  4. Skills
  5. Education


Image showing you where to place your career history:


Work experience on a CV


When to put it at the bottom of a CV

At the other end of the scale, if you are a student, school leaver, graduate, or career changer with limited employment history, then it can be lower down the page. This is known as a functional layout and highlights a candidate’s skills more than work experience.


Target your work experience at the job

Rather than applying for every vacancy with the same work experience, you should tailor your job history for each new application. Although constantly editing your CV requires more effort it’s definitely worth the hard work. That’s because hiring managers;

  • Quickly scan CVs looking for keywords and a bespoke one is more likely to include these.
  • Look favourably on documents that have been written especially for them.


The best way to write a strong targeted work experience section is to:

1.  Gather information about the job role. Do this by dissecting the job description, visiting the company website, and researching the overall industry.

2.  Gather information about yourself. Go over your work experience in detail and look for those duties, talents and abilities that match the employers’ requirements.

3.  Write a work experience section that matches your abilities to the vacancy’s requirements.


How far back should your work experience go?

This is a frequently asked question that has no real straight answer. As always it depends on the job seekers individual circumstances, such as the length of their career and any relevant experience.

Here is the recommendation for the two main types of candidates:


Experienced candidates

Recruiters are interested in what you are doing now rather than what you did 10 years ago. Job seekers are therefore advised to use the limited space on their CV (no more than 2 pages) to write about their most recent roles.

This means less room for describing your earlier jobs.

For instance, if you have only been working for 5 years, then its fine to include everything. However, if your working life stretches back 30 years, then there’s obvious no need to list your full employment history. If you want to list older roles, then include the headlines i.e. job title, company name and employment dates.

The golden rule is to concentrate on your most recent relevant jobs more than the older ones.


Students, school leavers and graduates

For this group of candidates, things are a lot simpler.

Hiring managers prefer candidates who have a strong work ethic. Therefore, young people must include all their former positions, even if they are not related to the vacancy at hand. This will also display your enthusiasm for the world of work.