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How to fit 20 years' experience on your CV

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Whether you’ve worked for just one company for the majority of your career or moved from place to place frequently, it can be difficult conveying the wealth of your experience and knowledge in just two pages

You may struggle deciding on which roles or projects to emphasis when you’ve had so many over the course of your career. Omit the wrong thing and you may not get called to interview, even if you’re the perfect person for the job. So how do you leverage long-term employment on your CV?

Single company career

Just because you’ve worked for one company for a long time doesn’t mean you haven’t progressed and developed new skills throughout your career. Use your CV to show signs of internal mobility – highlight the different job titles you’ve had and clearly outline responsibilities and successes under each using bullet points. A quick scan will give the impression you’ve had a varied career and have had to adapt to many different environments, even though you’ve always been with the same company.

Don’t give employers any reason to doubt your skills by focusing on your achievements instead of duties. Back up any claims you make using stats if possible. For example, saying you saved the company a specific amount of money is much more effective than merely mentioning that you “Managed team budgets”. You should also emphasise any training, internships and volunteering that make you a better-rounded candidate.

Industry terminology may well have changed since you last updated your CV. Familiarise yourself with the descriptions used in job adverts and make sure the wording on your CV corresponds to this. A busy employer will be looking for up-to-date keywords so make sure you have included these.

With job hopping becoming more common, employers want to find loyal employees that won’t jump ship after a year or two. Your work history is your unique selling point. Staying at one company shows your dedication, perseverance and ability to grow within in a company – make sure employers see that on your CV.

Multi-company career

It can be difficult to structure your CV and show some sort of coherency between roles when you’re worked in many places over the course of your career. Before you start typing, think long and hard about your personal brand – what drives you and makes you different from other candidates in your industry? Your values should be highlighted throughout your CV, LinkedIn profile and email application.

A mistake many senior candidates make is simply adding in a new role at the top of their CV and deleting the oldest one. Every word matters so don’t waste space detailing jobs that are not relevant to the position. Instead, focus on roles in the same industry or ones in which you displayed transferable skills and qualifications.

There is no need to give elaborate detail on a job you had fifteen years ago. Don’t feel like you need to add equal weight to every role and resist the urge to fall back on CV clichés to pad sections out. Overused terms such as “results-orientated” and “dynamic” won’t add value to your application. You should focus on your achievements, giving stats wherever possible about successful projects.

Your LinkedIn profile allows you to speak in greater depth about the many roles and responsibilities you’ve had throughout your career. Use this platform to highlight what you can’t in your CV. Recruiters may search for people who have worked at a particular company or have attained a particular qualification – detailing your entire work history gives you a much greater chance of being found. You should also tag your previous workplaces and connect with former colleagues to add credibility and weight to your profile.

You don’t need to list every job you’ve had, project you’ve managed or team you’ve worked with to write a stand-out CV. Think about the attributes you bring to the table and make sure you get those on your CV first, then add the required detail. Coherency and relevance are always much more important, whether you’ve been with one company or twenty.  

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