Should my employment history be on the front page of my CV?

My recruitment consultant says the only thing employers are interested in is my work experience, and this should always be on the front page of my CV (resume). Is he right?

I see lots of CVs or resumes from people who are so terrified by this kind of advice that they tuck the chronological list of their employment right under their name and contact details, like a bib tucked under their chin! But this isn’t usually the best way to show off your talents to an employer.

Make it easy to choose you

If you’ve ever had the job of sifting CVs you’ll know that the CVs that get attention are the ones that convey their key facts quickly and easily.

Employers are only interested in gauging quickly what a candidate could bring to their company. Unless the candidate has really big names to drop, employers are less interested in where they used to work. (And if you do have big names to drop, there are ways of doing this to get more attention.)

Show off the real you

I advise candidates to think first and foremost about the reader when preparing their CV. The reader is looking for skills, and they are looking for team-fit. So, give them exactly that. Take time to say who you are and what role you are looking for in your personal or career goal. Let your key skills list sit comfortably spaced and well-signposted under that. These sections are the ‘real you’ – what you can bring to the table. They should be tailored to the job vacancy or employer challenge at hand by bringing out your most relevant skills and experience.

Your employment history then evidences and illustrates how you’ve gained and used your experience, skills and qualities.

Don’t make this mistake!

I did original research some years ago into how people read documentation, and we included CVs in that research. It showed that the skim reader flicks through only the top half of the first page before turning over the page. So, if you start your employment history half way down the first page, it’s likely the reader will miss your last job or two and start reading two or three jobs back.

For this reason, I always advise candidates to start their employment history on the top of the second page.

February 2nd, 2010 | Category: CV, application, capability, experience, stand out | No Comments »

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