Your career history is the most detailed part of your CV. It sets out all the different jobs you have done, the organisations you have worked for and explains any gaps in employment.
One question that a lot of people seem to have when it comes to completing the career history is how much to include.
Another question is that people often wonder whether they should go back to the very beginning of their career, especially if experienced.
These are great questions because in many ways they get to the heart of the career history section.
But before I address these specifically, let me make a few general points:
The career history needs to be owned by you. Sometimes I hear about people being asked to change formats of CV’s to fit the model or template used by a recruitment consultant.
Now you clearly want to make it as easy as possible for the consultant to represent you.
Equally you have to be happy with the finished document as it’s you who will be doing the interview.
It’s not about the number of words it’s about the impact of the words. To a greater or lesser extent brevity can be a challenge. Especially if you have a lot of experience and a lot of roles.
If you have done the groundwork that I referred to in part 1 it’s going to be whole lot easier to write with impact.
Responsibilities are important but it’s achievements that get interest. When you set out responsibilities it gives a sense of what and how much you have done. The danger is that the CV ends up looking like a job description.
What really makes the impact is what you have achieved in each role that you have had. In other words what difference has having you on the payroll made to a team, function or organisation.
So back to the common questions and my perspective on them.
You should include as much as you need to as succinctly as possible to demonstrate that you are the ideal candidate for the role. For even the most experienced of candidates you should be able to do this in two pages.
You should include your entire career history right back to your very first job. The caveat to this is that you want to make sure that more detail is included for more recent roles and less detail for earlier roles.
The career history section of your CV is going to be a big contributor to the decision as to whether you are invited for interview. Take the time to do this section well. And remember it’s likely to take several re-writes or re-drafts to get it to stage where you are happy with it.
In summary since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them achieve career success and become better leaders and presenters. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.