What to include in the work experience section of your CV

Navigating the work experience section of a CV can be tricky - do you include internships? Don't worry, we've got all your questions answered.
Jessica Murray
Jessica Murray
cv tips

Ah CVs. Those tricky creatures. Trying to figure out what to include and what not to can be a nightmare, and when you don’t think you’ve got the experience to back it up, it can be even more challenging.

And the previous employment history section is a minefield in itself. What happens if this is your first graduate job? Does work experience count? What about part-time jobs? Should I throw some rhetorical questions in there? (That one’s a no).

We’ve put together a quick guide of top tips to answer all your questions, and make sure you’re including the most relevant experience in order to impress those recruiters and grab that job.

work experience section

Example work experience section on a CV

Below is a sample work experience section to guide you in creating your own, or you can take a look at our graduate CV example:

Position Employer/Organization Duration Description
Barista Carlos Coffee June 2016 — Present Have been working part-time at Carlos Coffee for over two years, developing my skills in customer service and teamwork. In January 2017, was promoted to Team Leader, demonstrating my ability to use my initiative and motivate my colleagues.
Work Experience Placement Mungo’s Museum May 2016 During this two-week placement, helped run outreach activities for local school children, as well as organize exhibitions and help promote the museum through marketing activities.
Volunteering Lethel Food Bank September 2014 – April 2016 Volunteered at my local food bank for over two years, helping to prepare and distribute food, as well as deliver meals to the homeless.

Make a list of your employment history


Crafting an exceptional CV requires laying a strong foundation – your work history. This is where you meticulously document your professional journey. Take a moment to gather insights about each of your past and present roles.

Think of this list as a treasure trove, overflowing with valuable insights. Include specifics like job titles, company names, locations, and employment dates (month and year is ideal). Don’t overlook freelance or volunteer work – these experiences demonstrate initiative and valuable transferable skills.

Keep in mind, this list serves as the springboard for crafting compelling narratives in the next stage. By conducting this initial inventory, you’ll gain a crystal-clear understanding of your professional odyssey and the formidable strengths you’ve amassed along the way.

Job Title / Position

Your job title on a CV acts as the opening act, a magnetic headline that immediately captivates the recruiter’s attention. It’s not just a label; it’s your opportunity to make a lasting impression. To ensure it hits the mark, follow these steps:

  1. Mirror the Job Description: Dive deep into the job listing to uncover keywords and specific titles that resonate with the role you’re targeting. This strategic alignment signals your keen understanding of what the position demands.
  2. Embrace Specificity: Avoid bland, one-size-fits-all titles like “Assistant.” Instead, showcase your expertise with titles like “Marketing Assistant” or “Social Media Assistant.” Precision is your ally in standing out from the crowd.
  3. Quantify Your Impact: Elevate your title by infusing it with quantifiable achievements whenever possible. For instance, “Sales Associate (Increased Revenue by 15%)” not only packs a punch but also speaks volumes about your contribution.

Job title example: Job Title/Position – Barista

Remember: Your job title is your introduction, your chance to pique curiosity and set the stage for the narrative that follows. Choose wisely, and watch as your CV commands attention from start to finish.

Company Name, Description, and Location

Beyond merely stating your job title, the interplay of the company name, description, and location on your CV collaborates to construct a panoramic view of your professional journey.

  1. Company Name: Provide the full and precise name of the organization where you were employed.
  2. Company Description (Optional): Consider offering a succinct description, particularly for lesser-known companies. A brief one-liner outlining the industry or operational focus can provide invaluable context.
  3. Location: Specify the city and state (or country) where the company is headquartered, or where the branch you worked at is located, if applicable.

Company name and description example:

  • Company Name: Carlos Coffee
  • Company Description (Optional): Local, independent coffee shop known for its ethically sourced beans and handcrafted beverages.
  • Location: Austin, TX (or specific branch location if applicable)

Why it’s Crucial: This triumvirate of details empowers recruiters to grasp the context of your experience effortlessly. It offers insights into the company’s scale, reputation, and the potential breadth of industry exposure you gained.

Remember: Strive for brevity and professionalism. Focus on clarity to ensure a seamless reading experience for recruiters, facilitating swift comprehension of your professional trajectory.

Achievements and Responsibilities

Welcome to the beating heart of your CV! The “Achievements and Responsibilities” section is your platform to illuminate the impactful contributions you’ve made in each role.

Here’s how to sculpt a narrative that captivates:

  1. Action Verbs Take Center Stage: Kick off each bullet point with dynamic action verbs that spotlight your drive and expertise. Words like “managed,” “spearheaded,” “developed,” or “increased” inject vigor into your accomplishments.
  2. Emphasize Achievements, Not Just Duties: While delineating your responsibilities is essential, prioritize showcasing your triumphs. Did you streamline a process? Surpass sales targets? Wherever possible, quantify your achievements with concrete numbers.
  3. Tailor with Precision: Custom-tailor your achievements and responsibilities to resonate with the specific job you’re pursuing. Highlight the skills and experiences that align most closely with the desired role.

Achievments and responsibilities example:

  • Action Verbs: Created a welcoming and positive atmosphere for customers using strong interpersonal skills.
  • Achievements: Consistently achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 95% or higher (quantify your achievements!).
  • Responsibilities & Achievements: Prepared and served a wide variety of high-quality coffee drinks, ensuring consistent taste and presentation (combines responsibility with achievement).
  • Skills: Mastered latte art, attracting new customers and enhancing the brand image (highlights a specific skill and its impact).
  • Efficiency: Optimized workflow during peak hours, reducing wait times by 10% (quantify your efficiency improvements).
  • Sales & Upselling: Increased sales of pastries and baked goods by 15% through upselling techniques (demonstrates sales skills).
  • Inventory Management: Maintained accurate inventory levels, minimizing waste and ensuring product availability (highlights responsibility and attention to detail).
  • Teamwork: Collaborated effectively with colleagues to provide a seamless customer experience (showcases teamwork skills).
  • Cleaning & Sanitation: Upheld the highest hygiene standards by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and work areas (demonstrates adherence to safety protocols).

Remember: This section is your stage to dazzle. By weaving together compelling narratives that spotlight your impact, you’ll etch an indelible impression on the recruiter’s mind.

Dates Employed

Step into the backbone of your CV – the “Dates Employed” section. Its role is pivotal, offering a chronological map of your professional journey. Here’s how to harness this information with finesse:

  1. Precision Reigns Supreme: Precision is your ally. Ensure that the dates (month and year) listed faithfully mirror your tenure at each company.
  2. Standardization Sets the Tone: Consistency is key to maintaining CV clarity. Adopt a uniform format across all dates, such as “MM/YYYY” or “Month YYYY.”
  3. Spotlighting Ongoing Roles: For your current position, a simple “Present” suffices in place of an end date, signaling ongoing engagement.

Dates Employed example:

  • ” June 2016-Present”

Why it’s Essential: Employment dates aren’t mere markers; they’re windows into your career trajectory. Clear and accurate dates not only showcase professionalism but also denote a meticulous eye for detail.

Remember: Simplicity breeds elegance. By presenting your employment dates in a crisp and standardized fashion, you pave the way for a seamless reading experience, ensuring your professional narrative shines through effortlessly.

What else to include in work exprience on a CV?


While a strong foundation of job titles, company details, dates, and achievements is crucial, your work experience section on a CV has the potential to shine even brighter. Here are some additional elements you can consider incorporating in work experience section of your CV.

Part-time Jobs

Ok, so you might think your part-time job in Primark on Saturday is totally irrelevant and completely uncool but it’s definitely worth putting down on your CV. It shows you have the commitment to work a role over a long period of time, with professional punctuality and dedication – you would have been sacked if you turned up late everyday, right?

Plus, even if you think you spend most of your shift killing time, you’re bound to have picked up some super useful, and very employable skills along the way. You might have dealt with customers on a regular basis, developing your communication skills and emotional intelligence, or you might have worked in a high-pressure environment, having to prove your adaptability by responding to new challenges when they arise.

Take a step back, think about what you’ve learnt from the job, and get it down on paper.


Well duh! If you’ve completed an internship (no matter if it it was paid or unpaid) this counts as previous employment history and should definitely be included here. internships are often one of the main things employers look for in a CV – they show you’ve had significant experience within a company (hopefully related to the industry you’re wanting to get in to), and solid reference to go with it.

Remember to talk about specific projects you worked on and the results you helped achieve. Show how you made a significant contribution to the company, even if you were only there a short while, and how you were able to adapt yourself to the team and their business needs.

Work experience

This is the main thing people are often wary about putting in their previous employment history, fearing that it’s not ‘official’ enough to count. Firstly… that’s rubbish. Work experience, even if it was only for a week or a few days, is definitely worth putting in here.

It’s all about how you demonstrate what you learnt from the experience, and what you contributed to the organisation during your short time there.

Even if you felt like you were only making tea and photocopying (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), if you really think about it you should be able to pick out some skills that you developed. Any experience in a real-life work place, such as shadowing employees and participating in team meetings, is all really useful stuff that tells an employer you know how to act professionally in the work-place and make an impression.


I would normally suggest putting volunteering in your ‘Hobbies and Extra-curricular Activities’ section, but if you’re running a bit low on previous work experience, you might want to pop it in here. Just remember (going back to my first point), you need to make it explicitly clear that this was a volunteering role and not a paid position.

It’s all about how you show that the work you did is relevant to the role you’re applying for. You may have just been volunteering, but how did you develop skills that you can apply to a paid role in a workplace? Especially if you have stuck out a volunteering position over a long period of time, this shows dedication and passion for the cause (and not the monetary incentive), something that employers are definitely interested in.

Go skills-based instead

work experience section skills

Finally, if you’re really struggling to find enough previous work experience to fill this part of your CV, you might want to try a completely different CV tactic altogether. Instead of focusing on your previous employment history, structure your CV around your skills instead. This means that instead of listing previous roles and then using these to demonstrate the skills you developed, you start with the skills, and then talks about what roles/activities helped you to develop these skills.

So for example you could take a mixture of hard and soft skills – coding, data analysis, leadership, emotional intelligence and communication – and write a short paragraph on each describing instances when you have used these skills, and any roles which have helped develop them.

Although skills based CVs aren’t as common as those based on your previous employment history, they’re particularly useful if you’re making a career change into an area you don’t have much previous experience in. You want to show you have the skills to apply to the role, even if you don’t exactly have the hands-on experience. Here’s an example of what it could look like:

Key Skills

In my role as a sales assistant I had to interact with customers on a regular basis, answering their queries and communicating with them effectively in order to ensure a positive experience.

Organisation and time management:
In my final year of university, I juggled my dissertation with a part-time job and heavy involvement in the university netball team, showing my ability to manage my time effectively and complete multiple tasks.

As part of my degree I completed a group project, which involved working closely with a small group of peers to research and create a presentation. I learnt to utilise the strengths of those around me to produce the best results.

So there you have it! The number one lesson here is not to stress if you don’t think you have the right level of previous employment history – don’t be afraid to use whatever experience is available to you to demonstrate your skills, just make it clear exactly what that roles consisted off.

Key Takeways

In the competitive landscape of today’s job market, your work history reigns supreme. How you articulate it could be the very thing that distinguishes you from a sea of applicants. Whilst automated screening through ATS software is commonplace, it’s not always the first port of call. Consequently, your CV should eschew verbosity; instead, it ought to be a succinct and polished testament to your professional journey.

Our recommendation? Begin by honing your work experience before committing pen to paper. Take stock of your career aspirations, conduct thorough research, and grasp the prerequisites for your desired role or industry. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to articulate your professional journey with clarity and purpose.

Here are some additional nuggets of wisdom on integrating your work experience into your CV:

  • Enumerate all your roles, outlining associated responsibilities, projects, and standout accomplishments, and then align them with the job description.
  • Discern the essentials from the superfluous.
  • Lead with your most compelling narrative and pertinent duties relevant to the role you’re pursuing.
  • Succinctly elaborate on each responsibility, with a focus on those pertinent to your career trajectory.
  • Highlight skills and competencies honed and acquired in each position, recognising their potential as transferable assets.
  • Incorporate quantifiable achievements; you’ll find that reframing duties into achievements can be a game-changer.
  • Don’t overlook on-the-job training courses, even sans certification; these too can be presented as accomplishments.

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