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When you’re starting out in a new career and don’t necessarily have the most desirable employment history, it can be daunting to send out your CV.  But the key is to not focus on the past, but what you take with you to the future.

Don’t be passive

When talking about your previous experience of any kind, the key is to use active words and phrases. This focuses the recruiter on your contribution; e.g. ‘I ran a digital campaign’ instead of ‘A digital campaign was ran by me.’

It draws attention to your responsibility and is much more engaging to read. Positive action words to try and include in your CV are: developed, organised, evaluated, coordinated, allocated and performed.

Make it relevant

When applying for a role, make sure your CV is tailored to that job description every time. Go through the job description and pick out the keywords in the responsibilities.

Now, go through your own employment history and personal information and link it back using those keywords. It instantly sparks that link in the recruiter’s mind, showing you are a good match for the role.

Cut out the waffle

Recruiters look at hundreds of applicants every day, so it’s important to get straight to the point if you want to get to the top of the pile.

Sift through your previous work experience and determine what is relevant to the role. Working in your local shop at 16 doesn’t necessarily relate if you’re applying for a role outside of retail.

Don’t cut any chunks of employment altogether, as this will leave questionable gaps. Just reduce the level of information you provide about less relevant roles and amp up the ones that relate to the new role.

Show evidence

It’s one thing to say you are a great communicator, but can you prove it? Use an example from previous experience to back up your claims where possible.

For example: “I used my excellent communication skills to head up a team of five sales staff during my time as team leader. As a result, our team gained the highest sales across the company.” That covers two skills in one; you have great communications skills and also can successfully manage a team.

Use numbers

This may not be relevant for all employment history, but if you can back up previous performance with stats and numbers, it’s another great way to show your skills off.

For example:

  • Management: “I was head of marketing, managing a team of 10.”
  • Sales: “I increased annual e-commerce sales by 50% in one year.”
  • HR: “I trained groups of 30 staff during my role as regional trainer.”

Whatever your previous work experience, there’s always a way to make your achievements and skills gained during that time stand out and prove you’re a valuable candidate for any role.

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