How to Build a Great CV Using Work Experience

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Recruiters have just a few seconds to read your CV. If you don’t grab their attention you won’t get to meet them. Work experience is a great way to prove that you have the right skills for the job, but don’t expect your future employer to make the connections. We’ll show you how to use your experience to make your CV stand out from the crowd and secure that all important interview.

Are you making this mistake?


Many people think that one amazing CV will work for every application. They are wrong. You need to tell recruiters how your work experience makes you the perfect candidate for their company. Give yourself the best chance of getting noticed by tailoring your CV to every role.

Key words


Make it easy to scan your CV for evidence that you fit the job description. All you need to do is work out the recruiter’s key words. Many companies provide a list of requirements or a person specification, which may have tempted you to apply in the first place. Go through each item on the list and write down the experience you have to match it. Use specific examples rather than general statements. Think about your responsibilities and achievements; the situations you dealt with and the problems you solved.

If there isn’t a list of skills, look for clues to build your own. For example, a multi national company might look for awareness of different cultures, or ability to build relationships with a wide range of people. Industry leaders want people who are creative and forward thinking.

If the job description is very short, or you are making a speculative application, other sources will help you. Company websites often describe the business and the people that work there. Occupational profiles on websites like the National Careers Service, give you insights in to lots of different roles.

Give examples like a STAR


Follow this simple technique to talk about each of your jobs as put your CV together. Aim to use 3 examples for each position you’ve held. Set them out using bullet points.

Situation – Set the scene. What skill do you want to talk about? (Use the key words to link back to the job description) When did you use it?

Task – Briefly explain what you were asked to do.

Action – This part of your answer should include the most detail. How did you perform the task? If you worked as part of a team, what was your role? What steps did you take to get the job done?

Result – What was the outcome? What did you improve? What did you learn from the task? Use numbers to quantify your results where you can.


“Successfully negotiated a discount with the Christmas party venue, saving £300”

“Launched the company’s Facebook campaign. Created a regular posting schedule targeting a new audience. Generated a 20% increase in sales within the first month.”

“Developed my communication skills by listening to children read. Supported them by explaining difficult words in straightforward language, giving them a deeper understanding of the story.”

Active language


Words such as, “managed”, “trained”, “organised” and “achieved” sound confident and up-beat. Active words draw the recruiter’s eye through the document and strengthen your examples.

Put your best features first


Play with the layout. Your CV doesn’t have to start with your education. If you have work experience that relates directly to the role, make it the first thing you talk about.

Break up your work experience using sub-headings, such as “Customer Service Experience”, “Marketing Experience”, or “Voluntary Experience”. This will make it easier to put your most relevant jobs higher up the page, where they will be seen straight away.

Leave it out


Most UK CVs are 2 pages long. That doesn’t leave you with any space for unnecessary information. Every example you use should serve a purpose. If you can’t tie it in with the job or the company, don’t be afraid to leave it out.


Written by Becci Johnson

Twitter: @BecciBrown82
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