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8 – Employment History

Your employment history is a list of all the jobs you’ve done (most recent first), the name of your employers and the dates you were employed. Keep the description of the jobs very brief and remember to mention skills you’ve used that match the ones required in the job you want to do.

The employment history is more evidence that you can do the job you’re applying for, so read the requirements in the job advert (or find out what kind of workers the employer wants), and use this section to show what you can do!

If you think you have no employment history, think of activities you have been involved in, from voluntary jobs to full time parenting. Employers don’t like to see gaps where it looks as if you weren’t doing anything. Explain what you’ve been doing and any skills you might have been using during that time. For example, if you’ve been ill or caring for someone, you’ve probably been using some skills or learning something that is relevant to the job.

Employer and address

This is included to give evidence that you’re not making up your job history. Employers shouldn’t contact previous employers without your permission.

Job title and duties

This is where you briefly describe the duties and responsibilities you had. Remember, your CV should fit on two pages unless you’ve done a lot of previous jobs. CVs should never be longer than three pages.

Potential employers will not be interested in lists of tasks - they want to hear about your achievements - so try to use “measurable results” that give specific examples, such as “Redecorated five houses over a period of eight months, co-ordinating a team of three other workers” or “Was given sole responsibility for supervising a class of 14 year olds, two afternoons a week for six months.” They will be more interested in your most recent jobs and activities.

Think about your roles, responsibilities and achievements in each of the jobs you’ve had. Use the “power words” below to help you. If you haven’t had paid work mention skills and experience you’ve gained in voluntary jobs or as a parent, duties/responsibilities in institutions/clubs/community, etc.

Achieved Administered Advised Analysed
Approved Arranged Built Categorised
Collected Compiled Completed Conducted
Controlled Coordinated Corrected Created
Defined Delivered Demonstrated Designed
Developed Distributed Established Expanded
Filed Founded Incorporated Increased
Identified Implemented Initiated Instigated
Instructed Introduced Launched Lead
Logged Maintained Managed Monitored
Negotiated Observed Ordered Organised
Oversaw Performed Planned Prepared
Presented Recorded Reduced Registered
Reserved Responded Reviewed Scheduled
Screened Solved Streamlined Supervised
Supported Supplied Surveyed Updated

An example: Customer Service Representative. I was responsible for looking after business customers as part of a team. This involved taking incoming calls and emails and answering queries relating to contracts. I achieved a Silver Level Award in dealing effectively with complaints.


Employers often want to know what you earnt, to get some idea of the level of responsibility you had. If you can’t remember exactly what your earnt, it’s OK to be approximate. If it was voluntary work, just say “voluntary work”.

Start and end dates

Employers like to know how recently you’ve used the skills and how long for. It’s OK to give just the month and year rather than the exact day.

Reason for leaving

This is something employers often want to know. It’s important to make this positive, in a way that makes you look like good employment prospect. Employers like people who are enthusiastic and motivated; choosing to change jobs is a sign of self-motivation. They don’t want to employ someone who’s always complaining or causing trouble.

The real reason you left…A positive answer
“I was bored.” “I wanted to learn more skills and find opportunities for promotion.”
“I was sacked.” “I am looking for a job more suited to my skills and personality.”
“I hated working nights” “My family circumstances meant that I was unable to work the required hours.”
“I’m going blind” “A medical condition meant I was unable to continue in this kind of work, so I am keen to find a new role which is compatible with my condition.”

Now go back to your CV document and start filling in the employment history. Remember to keep saving as you go

Next: 9 – Education HistoryBack: 7 – Evidence

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