CVUltimate CV Series Writing a Career History

Yeah, you’re back that’s just fantabulous (is it a word….is it not…ah who cares I like it!) just in time for writing your Career History! Yes, this does truly excite me just a little…..

This is the core of any CV. Because you get this section right and you’re more than halfway there.

You just joined us at this point? Whoa there, don’t start here. You want to go back a little and catch up with the previous posts. But, I’ll make it easy for you though here they are:

  1. The What, Why & Purpose of CV Writing
  2. Preparation Before Writing a CV
  3. Writing a CV Layout & Plan

So, let’s keep it nice and consistent by doing a quick re-cap on what we covered in the last post:

  • Professional Statement: leave blank and write last
  • Key Skills: it’s your choice if you have this section, leave blank for now
  • Career History: create a chronological list of all your previous roles
  • Education: create a chronological list of all your academic qualifications
  • Professional Development: create a chronological list of all internal and external courses you’ve attended throughout your career

How’ve you got on so far? Is your CV starting to feel more like something that could market you to potential employers? You starting to believe you can create something worthwhile that might just get your foot in the interview door?

Hooray, that’s what we’re all about here….

Now for the career history – STOP! Step away from the job description!

Because if you’ve got your job description out for this section put it away. That’s the single biggest mistake I see in CVs. The need to re-write your job description – ignore that need.

In fact, no, do have a look at your job description. Sit down and truly look at it. Does it actually reflect everything you do daily? Does it cover every nuance and detail of your role? Has your role changed and developed since this was written? Does it tell you about every target exceeded, or project successfully managed, or that you made savings last year?

You see my point…? Your job description is a hindrance and not a help at this stage. Do yourself a favour and put it away. Open your mind instead and let’s work from there.

Your Career Achievements

The career history section on a CV should demonstrate to recruiters that you can both do and achieve. Because past performance is a good indicator for a recruiter of future performance.

So, let’s get off to a great start by listing 3-4 achievements for each of your roles. If you’ve kept a list, then you’re ahead of the game already…

Honestly do you do that. I mean do you keep a list of achievements for each of your roles? If not, can I recommend that you do.

I had a line manager who made me keep a work plan. Even when I had completed a project it remained on the work plan. Every year we started a new work plan and carried across the unfinished projects. Every year she told me to keep the old work plan – this is your record of your achievements. You’ll need it one day so keep them. And she was right. I still do keep records of my achievements. If you don’t then you should – it’s never too late to start. So, start today.

I recommend reviewing your record of achievements and CV every 12 months.

Imagine this scenario. You’ve been in the same role for 6 years. You’ve decided to up-level your career, or the decision was made for you by redundancy etc. Your CV has not been updated since you got this role 6 years ago.

You sit down to write your career history and hit a blank. All you have to fall back on is your job description because you can’t remember everything you’ve achieved in the role. But, if you’re lucky one or two things might stick out in your mind. So, avoid the pain and keep a simple ‘Log of Achievements’ – does what it says on the tin.

Then next time you need to write a CV. Voila all the hard work is already done.

Anyway, back to those achievements. No overthinking here. An achievement can be an award, leading a project, saving the company money, writing a report, creating a strategy, consistently hitting or exceeding targets. You get the idea.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you never achieve anything, or your achievements aren’t significant. Everyone achieves and yours are relevant to you, your role, and your career.

Need an easy way to map out your achievements. Try the STAR method:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Go on give it a go….

Your Career History

There’s a little trick to writing your Career History. Keep in mind the key skills you mapped out in ‘Writing a CV Layout & Plan’.

The whole point is to demonstrate to a Recruiter that you have what they are looking for. That you can fulfil these key skills. That’s all.

So, here’s some basic information to get you on your way…

You’ll need:

  • Role Title
  • Company Name
  • Location
  • Dates from/to
  • Put bullet points under each role demonstrating what you achieved that would match the key skills – use your record of achievements.
  • If you have a long career history focus on roles in the previous 10-15 years. For roles beyond this simply list them on the CV. Your recent career history is the most relevant.

Just for you here’s a couple of little extras…

  • Make it easy for the Recruiter – I always recommend including a brief sentence on the company. Don’t make the Recruiter have to go and Google the company if it’s not clear what they do.
    Gaps – oh yes, the dreaded GAP! Don’t panic about these. Simply explain what you were doing. If you can, tailor it to the key skills, for example if you did any personal development or volunteer work. Don’t overthink this. Don’t make it over emotional or too personal – keep it simply professional.

That’s all. See it wasn’t that difficult was it…

Hi Scan Readers (oh yes, I see you don’t worry, we cater for everyone here…) here’s what you need to know at a glance:

  • Career Achievements: create a list of 3-4 achievements per role. Use the STAR method to help you.
  • Career History: focus on demonstrating, through your achievements, how you meet the key skills the recruiter is looking for


If you need more help, sign up to my email list to get the freebie focused solely on helping you write an interview winning CV.

You can sign up by filling in your email address on the right.

Connect with me on LinkedIn to follow more of my content too; I’d love to see you there –