Your personal employment history
What to include - What to leave out

Your personal employment history is the evidence employers are looking for that you have been employed, and are employable!

Your work history is also an opportunity for you to promote your capabilities to an employer or recruiter.

Other headings you can use when creating a resume, which provide exactly the same type of information include:

  • Employment History
  • Work History
  • Professional Experience
  • Career History
  • Relevant Career History

This important information should not be just a collection of facts and figures of what you've done in your working life.

Many people also assume that you have to tell all about your past employment experience - this is definitely not the case.

One of the key tips on resume writing is you have to exercise some judgement about what past employment history information to include.

And......the information you include about your career history, and the way you describe this will also depend on the resume layout or style that you have chosen

Personal employment history
Decide what is relevant

Here are some key questions to ask yourself when deciding what aspects of your professional employment history or experience you will include in your resume:

  • Is the information truly relevant to this job application?
  • Does my work history information draw attention to the right skills and experience needed in the job?
  • Will this information add weight to my application?
  • What will the reader learn about me if I include this information?
  • Do I want the reader to learn this about me?
  • How will the reader's impressions of me alter if I add more detail?
  • How will the reader's impression of me alter if I reduce the detail?
  • What would the impact be if I left this information out entirely?

Another tip when creating your resume is that you will need to put the appropriate emphasis, or "spin" on your past employment history.

Note: Jump ahead by clicking on the link if you are more interested in how to put the right sort of ''spin' on your employment history.

Personal employment history
What information do you include?

It depends on the style of resume are you writing. The style options you have are:

Reverse chronological resume

You will have chosen this resume style because you are following a fairly predictable career path....you're taking the next steps in your career.

So, the personal career history you will need to provide will include, in reverse chronological order, (i.e. give details about your most recent position first, then second most recent and so on):

  • The title of the position
  • The name of your employer
  • The period of time over which you were employed - usually month and year you commenced to the month and year you left that position. If still employed in the role you describe month and year of commencement - present
  • Possibly a brief description of who your employer is, and what the organisation does
  • A brief sentence, two at most, about what the primary focus of your position was
  • Then fully describe your achievements or contributions.....but you need to make your description relevant to the skills you're promoting in your profile......AND......to the position for which you are now applying

Functional resume

You have chosen a functional style because you are changing career completely, or are seeking a change in role emphasis in your current career path.

The past employment history information you supply in this style of resume is very different:

  • Title of the position
  • Name of your employer
  • Possibly some detail about your employing organisation - what it does, the key focus of the business, size etc
  • The commencing and finishing dates of your employment
  • Possibly a very brief description of the focus of the role - but.....tailored to emphasise elements of the job that might be related to your new career direction

Personal employment history.....
The functional resume

In a functional resume, the details about your past employment history will also be listed in reverse chronological order.

For this style of resume, you'll note that there is an absence of detail for each position you decide to include.

You're merely showing when and where you have been employed.

The personal employment history information you're providing here is basically to show you have had a consistent employment record.

By minimising information about each job in your work history you are drawing the attention of the reader to your skills and possibly your overall career achievements

Your skills and achievements of course will be prominently profiled on the first page of your resume, rather than being included as part of the specifics of each position in your work history.

So, to summarise.....in a functional style resume you provide minimal detail about each of your jobs under the heading "Employment History" or "Professional Experience".

And......the skills you've used or developed in your previous employment will be concisely profiled on the first page of your resume.

It's also possible to include on the front page of a functional resume a summary of selected, relevant achievement quotes. This is recommended if you have an extensive and impressive record of achievement in your career.

Combined resume style

This style of resume works best for people who are pursuing the same or a related career path who have both substantial professional experience, and substantial accomplishments or achievements to write about.

The information about your personal employment history will be similar to the reverse chronological style resume, but with some slight variations:

  • Position title, employer name, employer details will be the same as for the other formats
  • You will probably have an expanded version for describing the focus of your job roles for example - size and scope of responsibility or territory, who you reported to, how many direct reports to you, size of budget you managed etc
  • You have the option of recording achievements for each role and relate them directly to the position you are describing i.e. your achievements are included with the details you provide as part of your personal employment history
  • Alternatively, list your achievements according to the various skill sets that you have outlined in your profile on the first page of your resume.

Personal employment history
Other considerations

How far back should you go with your employment history?

This will depend on your purpose, but usually 5-7 years, no more than 10 years.

However, if you have important and relevant history older than 10 years simply insert another heading in your resume such as "Summary of employment prior to 2003".

Then below this heading write a brief explanation about your past employment history that you want the reader to know about.

Your explanation can be confined to the type of work that you did. Or.....it might be an explanation of the diversity of jobs or sectors of industry where you have been employed.

No need to mention specific job titles, employers, or dates of employment.

Focus attention on a niche in your background

It was mentioned earlier that you will often need to emphasise or put some spin on parts of your background. How do you do this?

Let's say that you've been working in a general management position but have decided that you want to move your career into a more specialised niche like training - but it could be something like occupational health and safety, or quality assurance.

You've decided to do this because you've done the occasional project in your capacity as a general manager in this particular area. And.....you want this to be the main focus of your future career direction.

You could put the appropriate spin on your personal employment history in these ways:

  1. In your role scope statement for the position you would specifically mention that you had responsibility for training (or occupational health and safety, quality assurance etc).
  2. You would include details of one or more training related projects in your list of achievements
  3. You would also include some detail about training related skills and knowledge in your personal profile/key strengths summary

So, even though you've been doing a general management role, you are specifically giving prominence to your training (or other niche) career interest.

Documenting your achievements or contributions

When documenting your personal employment history, and in particular your achievements, your task is to not only explain the results you've produced, but also to give the reader:

  • an understanding of the context or background where this occurred
  • and how you actually produced the result e.g. processes or action taken to achieve the result

There are various writing formulas you can use so that your achievements and contributions make compelling reading - for example:

  • S.T.A.R. - Situation, Task, Action Result
  • C.A.R - Challenge, Action, Result

This link career highlights explains in great detail how to write in a compelling way about your achievements or contributions.

Other "how to" pages for resume writing

Follow the links below to other areas where you need some resume writing tips:

Even better, if you want an answer to a specific question about how to write about your personal employment history, or any other part of your resume go to resume helper

New! Comments

Has this helped you in your job search? What else would you like to see here about job search? Leave me a comment in the box below.
[?] Subscribe To This Site

XML RSS
follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines