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Professional experience on your CV

The curriculum vitae includes various sections, among them the most central: professional experience.

As its name indicates, professional experience includes all your jobs worked throughout your career.

It is the main reference for your potential new employer, who reads your CV. It is this part that is the highest priority for him/her, and what will or won't tip the balance in your favour.

Professional experience on your CV: demonstrate progress

Regarding the presentation of the 'Professional Experience' section, it is important that your evolution in the positions and / or companies shows a progression: hierarchical, salary, the skill level... you must always display that there has been progress towards a well - defined goal.

Of course, in our CVs, we often have experiences that are not quite part of this progression that we are keen to demonstrate.

In this case, 2 choices are available to you:

  1. Sort through the professional experiences identified. Because some may not be relevant in your journey. Do not hesitate to 'forget' some positions, they could raise a question for your recruiter if they do not match the one you are currently targeting.

  2. Present each of these experiences so that they demonstrate that you have ultimately progressed towards your personal goal.

Professional experience on your CV: the presentation

To present a personal experience, you must name the employer, indicate the period during which you worked for them, what your position was, and the responsibilities and achievements to your credit.

The last two categories, notably, can allow you to 'absorb' your old positions in the progression that you want to show via your CV.

You can slightly 'squeeze' the experiences to steer them towards responsibilities that are the same as the new position you want, and do so similarly for achievements.

Professional experience on your CV: the selection

Also, do not hesitate to include less traditional professional experience such as internships, summer jobs, professional training, or even some personal achievements(in the 'Other' or 'Miscellaneous' section at the bottom of the CV), which could serve your project.

You must design your CV as an argument to demonstrate that you have all the qualities required to fulfil the prerequisites of the position for which you are seeking to be recruited.

It is usually considered that only the last 10 to 15 years of employment should appear on a CV.

The others can be briefly summarised in a short insert entitled 'Career Start', ahead of the list of professional experience.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, it is not always necessary to include all of your experiences if some are not relevant, and above all, from an organisational point of view and for the sake of brevity, it may be interesting to group some experiences into a succinct sentence:

- Experience as a waitress at 'X' from 2002 to 2004, at 'Y' from 2004 to 2006, then as a salesperson at 'Z' store from 2007 to 2008. This process will help you to highlight the appropriate experience, and thus to highlight your profile.

Professional experience on your CV: advice

  • Be consistent in the presentation: same bullet points, same line spacing, bold characters, italics, etc... for each job description.

  • In the job description, do not simply list tasks one after another, select only what is consistent with your professional ambition and highlight it.

  • Describe your responsibilities with reasonably strong action verbs, to demonstrate what you are capable of doing. A study in 2017 showed that recruiters favour CVs that include verbs relating to the industry they belong to: perform, negotiate, create, design...

  • Try to quantify, where possible, the progress you have made: 30 % turnover increase, customers doubled, etc.

Professional experience on your CV: tips for young graduates

It is often difficult for a recent graduate to write a valuable and convincing CV, as they often have little or no experience.

Thus, it may be tempting to truncate some details, some titles, or some contractual terms.

Be careful, however, you are never safe from a scrupulous recruiter who will check your background!The simplest solution is to play the card of honesty while highlighting yourself: only list the qualities expected for the position you covet within your experiences, do not hesitate to talk about internships in companies that could include important points to highlight during a possible interview, and do not miss the essential qualities in the eyes of many recruiters(time management, sense of responsibility, etc...).

If you are considering mentioning your university projects in the 'Professional experience' section, know that recruiters are not really interested in these, since these projects are often too theoretical in their eyes.

Professional experience on your CV: tips for senior management

Do not put forward inconclusive experiences, base your information only on quantifiable data, and show how you changed the situation between your arrival and departure. What the recruiters want in your case is to see that you are operational, and that you are ready to make things happen.

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