Your career history is a particularly important part of the resume as it allows the hiring manager to form an opinion on whether you should progress to the interview stage.
To give yourself the best possible chance of being invited to an interview, it’s worth giving careful thought to how you will present the information about your career experience to date.
Here are some guidelines to follow.
Understand what the hiring manager is looking for
When you’re putting together your career history it can help to know the key details that will attract the hiring manager’s eye. You can make yourself stand out by specifically addressing these factors. As a guide, the hiring manager will to be know if:
- You have the necessary skills and experience, and
- How you have added value to your past employers, and
Bearing these factors in mind when you’re drafting your career history can go a long way towards being invited for an interview.
What to include in your career history
Begin describing your career history by listing each of your previous roles in chronological order starting with the most recent. Briefly describe the scope of your responsibilities, and highlight how you have contributed to the company’s success. There are a number of ways to achieve this:
- Focus on accomplishments not responsibilities – don’t be afraid to highlight your successes rather than focusing on day-to-day tasks.
- Describe your problem-solving skills – explain a problem you encountered, the action you took, and the final outcome.
- Quantify achievements – provide measurable results. For example, don’t just state that you “helped sales grow”. Make it clear that you “increased sales by 30%”.
- Include keywords – review the job posting for key words, and be sure you include these in your description of your career history.
- Highlight current IT skills – a hiring manager is unlikely to be impressed by outdated knowledge like skills in Fortran or PASCAL. Instead, indicate your mastery of current IT technologies such as CRM or cloud-based systems.
How to present your career history
Hiring managers can receive dozens of job applications, so your career history needs to be easy to read.
Create sections through the use of sub-headings, and rather than writing lengthy paragraphs, use bullet points to describe the contributions you have made in each role.
Avoid using buzzwords such as ‘team player’ or ‘dynamic thinker’. Not only are these clichéd, they don’t allow the hiring manager to see what makes you special. It’s better to focus on presenting yourself as being above and beyond what the company is looking for.
Keep it short and sharp
Your career history should be summed up in 2-3 pages depending on your work history and the seniority and complexity of the role you are applying for.
If you have changed careers, or have a lengthy career history, it is perfectly acceptable to summarise your earlier experience under the heading ‘early career’. You don’t have to itemise every job you’ve ever held.
With the career section of your resume clearly ordered, easy to read and meeting the job description, hiring managers are bound to sit up and take notice.