StandOut CV

How to write your work experience in a CV

Andrew Fennell

Your work experience, or career history is one of the most important parts of your CV.

It gives you the chance to showcase your skills and knowledge, whilst proving how you apply them in the workplace – a great way to win over recruiters

This guide will show you exactly how to write your work experience section in your CV, including which roles to add, how to list them, and how to structure each job.

Which jobs should be listed?

How far back should a CV go?

Which order should your jobs be listed, how to structure recent jobs.

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You’re not obliged to list your entire professional history when writing a CV – How many of your jobs you include will depend on how much experience you have.

If you have many years of experience – you will benefit from listing only your most relevant work, and you can leave out jobs from your early career

If you have very little experience – you should include all of your jobs to showcase as much as your experience as possible.

Work experience CV

Paid work is going to be the most important and typically largest section of your CV, as employers will be looking for candidates who already have experience and expertise in similar work environments. Paid work should always be prioritized over academic work or voluntary work on your CV.

Voluntary work

Voluntary work is great to add to your CV, especially if you have little to no work experience or have gaps in your CV . Voluntary work demonstrates initiative and an eagerness to work, both of which are highly desirable skills in any candidate. Voluntary work can even enhance your CV when applying for certain roles: for example, if you’re applying to work in a veterinary office, having volunteer experience working in an animal shelter will demonstrate your passion for animals and boost your suitability.

School or university placements

Placements undertaken during university or school are also great additions to your CV, especially if you’re at the debut of your career or have minimal work experience. Again, the key here is to highlight the transferable skills gained during these experiences. Don’t simply list that you were chosen for the placement – explain and demonstrate why these experiences were valuable, and how they enhanced your skillset.

Where to include work experience in your CV?

If you are an experienced candidate , list your work experience at the top of your CV, just underneath the profile or core skills – because recruiters will be most interested in your experience at this level.

If you have little experience , but lots of recent education (like a graduate or school leaver ) add your experience underneath your education section – because at junior level, employers will want to see your recent and relevant qualifications before your work experience which may be less relevant to the jobs you are targeting (e.g. part-time bar jobs or paper rounds)

How far back you go on your CV is a question of experience. If you have lots of senior-level experience, you should  highlight only your most recent roles, emphasising your skills and responsibilities in these areas – omitting some of your older, less relevant work.

But, if you’re less experienced, like a school leaver or graduate,  you might want to list all of your previous jobs to show an eagerness for work and a diverse spectrum of skills and knowledge.

Ideally you should try to get as much detail as possible into 2 page of A4 .

How long CV

However, don’t forget that the purpose of your CV is to demonstrate your skills and credibility to a potential employer. If you’re applying for a role as a junior financial analyst , you don’t need to include the 6 months you spent working in an ice-cream shop when you were a student – because it is irrelevant to your target employers.

Put simply, if an old job isn’t going to add value to your candidacy or demonstrate a relevant skill, you can leave it out.

Experienced candidates

For experienced candidates, hiring managers are going to be more interested in your last 1-3 years of employment than anything else. While you can certainly list your full employment history if you wish to, experienced candidates should use the limited space on their CV (around 2 pages) wisely to elaborate on their relevant and recent roles, especially roles that are relevant to the jobs you are applying for.

Don’t forget to always tailor your CV for the job you want: this means demonstrating that you have the specific skills the employer asks for in their job description. As always, prior research is essential.

Don’t forget that recruiters often receive an excess of 100+ applications for a single role: if you want to make your CV stand out, it should be precise, easy to read, and highlight the work experience that counts. In general, a CV for an experienced candidate should be no more than two pages long, so you can always use length as an effective metric: if your CV is over 3 pages long, you’re probably listing too many old jobs.

Juniors and students

If you’re a student or a junior employee at the beginning your career, your CV should include all (or most) of your former roles, including part-time work, student work, and maybe even your first ever job. Employers like to see evidence of a strong work ethic when hiring new graduates or young people, so it’s a good idea to demonstrate an early eagerness for the world of work.

When adding retail jobs or student jobs to your CV, the key is to highlight the transferable skills you gained while working in these roles. For example , if you worked in a high-paced call centre as a student, this shows a recruiter that you’re equipped to handle the demands of working in a corporate customer service environment. Or, if your first job was working in a local supermarket and taking stock, this demonstrates that you have experience in inventory management.

When it comes to writing a CV with minimal work experience, the formula is simple: show, don’t tell. Make it clear why you’re telling the recruiter about a former job – explain what the role added to your skillset, and why it would be beneficial in the role you’re applying for.

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When adding your work experience to your CV, you should list your most recent jobs first, and the rest of your jobs in reverse chronological order – meaning from newest to oldest.

This means that the oldest job you wish to include will be last at the bottom of your CV

Order of work experience CV

Don’t forget that recruiters and hiring managers are going to be most interested in your last 1-3 years of work, so make use of the space on your CV to highlight these jobs and how you excelled in these roles.

Structuring your work experience effectively is key to grabbing the attention of recruiters, and I will explain how to do this below.

When it comes to structuring your recent jobs, you want to make it as simple as possible for the recruiter to understand your current skills, your previous responsibilities, and the value that you brought to your former company or organisation. The formula below can help you highlight your previous employment effectively.

How to structure work experience on CV

Here, you want to briefly summarize your former role: what company or individual you worked for, what your role consisted of, and to whom you were accountable. Don’t go into too much detail here – you’re going to explain more in the ‘Responsibilities’ section.


In this section, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your day-to-day responsibilities while highlighting your skills and competences at the same time. You should write this section in bullet points, so that it’s easy for the recruiter to read and digest.

Within your responsibilities, hiring managers will be on the lookout for the following:


In this section, you want to explain the positive impact you had on your former company or organisation, and how you brought value to the table. Again, this section should be written in bullet points to give the recruiter easily digestible, memorable information.

If you can list your achievements with accompanying quantifiable figures, it’s going to make an even better impression.

Here are some ideal types of achievements to include:

Financial Achievements : For example, successfully cutting costs and overheads, winning new clients, how your input resulted in increased profits (Figures and numbers should be inserted here where possible). Increasing productivity / creating effective new work methods could also be highlighted here.

Customer success : For example, did you create a successful marketing strategy for a customer, resulting in increased sales? Did you help your customer land new clients, resulting in increased turnover? Have you received or maintained high-quality, 5-star reviews from customers online? Your customer success stories = your success stories.

Media recognition : Did you contribute to any projects recognized in the media? Did your company (with your help) win any awards in the media?

Internal recognition : Promotions, being given extra responsibilities within your organisation, winning company awards etc.

How to structure old roles

old roles

When adding old jobs onto your CV, you don’t want to go into extensive detail and take up valuable space on your CV. Most hiring managers are going to focus on the upper quarter of your CV, where you detail your core skills and your last 1-3 years of employment.

When adding an old job, simply add the length of time spent in the role (mm/yyyy-mm/yyyy) the name of your employer, your job title, and a brief outline of the role. If your old job title is self-explanatory, you don’t need to give an outline of the role – i.e., “dog walker” “checkout assistant.” As always, highlight relevant skills where possible.

Canadian Resume [Format, Tips & Examples for 2023]

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Canada is a unique country that combines some traits you’ll find in the USA with some you’ll find in Europe.

This goes for resumes, too.

That’s why, when applying for a job in Canada, you have to make sure your resume conforms to Canadian application standards.

Naturally, you might be wondering - what does a Canadian resume even look like?

If you’re a foreigner, you’re likely drawing a blank trying to figure out what makes a Canadian resume different from the one in your own country. Even if you’re Canadian, you might still need to brush up on your resume writing skills.

Luckily for you, we’re here to show you how to write a compelling Canadian resume.

Here’s what we’re going to go over:

And more!  Let’s get started!

Canadian Resume Example

Let’s take a look at a Canadian resume example:

canadian resume format

Here’s what this resume does right:

Free Canadian Resume Templates

Creating a resume from scratch is time-consuming work. 

You need to twitch the margins, keep the fonts uniform, carefully align every element you add, and make sure it never spills over to page two.

But you can skip all that hassle if you use a resume template .

Novoresume’s templates are created in collaboration with recruiters and meet all job market requirements. 

Any template you use can save you time and let you write your resume in minutes.

novoresume templates

Canadian Resume Specifics

There are a few basic things to keep in mind when crafting your Canadian resume. First things first:

The terms resume and CV can be used interchangeably in parts of Canada. In Quebec, for example, both terms refer to a one or two-page-long summary of a candidate’s career that’s tailored to the job they’re applying for.

Outside of Quebec, however, a CV is different from a resume in that it’s far more detailed and appropriate for academic positions or specific senior-level applications. 

Most job postings will ask for a resume unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Some other things to keep in mind about Canadian resumes include:

Canadian Resume vs. US Resume

Both the USA and Canada prefer using resumes over CVs. In fact, Canadian and US resumes are almost identical.

The biggest difference? The language the document is written in.

You might be thinking - wait, I thought Canada used English?

Only partly.

Canada has two official languages - English and French. Both of these languages have standardized Canadian spellings, so that means they are not 100% the same as American English or European French.

Most of the terminology on your Canadian resume will be just about the same as it would be on its US equivalent. The biggest difference will probably be the added “u” to words like colour, and favourite , and the spelling of words like catalogue, centre, and cheque, as opposed to catalog, center, and check.

Before submitting your application, consider using a grammar checker like Grammarly or QuillBot to make sure your resume is up to par with Canadian spelling conventions .

Canadian Resume vs. European Resume

Typically, a resume in most of Europe, Asia, and the Pacific is referred to as a CV. The term resume in Canada refers to the same document that a CV refers to in Europe.

Both documents are meant to be one to two pages long, and list skills and experience relevant to the position you’re applying for. So in this sense, a European CV is actually different from a Canadian CV.

In Canada, a CV is an extensive document and is usually required in academic settings rather than for corporate job applications. The CV can be anywhere from two to ten pages long since it’s meant to list everything - from work experience to projects to publications.

European resumes also tend to be more detailed. For example, they can include details on high school education and grades, even if the candidate has a college degree. In Canada, that’s not the case. Your high school education is irrelevant if you have a higher degree of education.

The biggest difference between Canadian resumes and European ones is the amount of personal information you’re allowed to give away. For example, in Germany including a picture of yourself on your resume is common, but that’s absolutely not the case in Canada. There, your date of birth and nationality are a no-go.

These bits of information can be used to discriminate against you, so you’re supposed to keep them out of your resume as a precaution to give everyone a fair chance. Recruiters often consider resumes that overshare details of the candidate’s life (e.g.: race, age, date of birth, religion, political affiliation, etc.) unprofessional.

Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your Canadian Resume

You’ve seen what a Canadian resume looks like. Now it’s time to write your own.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry -  we’ve here to help you get it right.

Just follow these steps:

#1. Use the Correct Format

The most popular resume format in Canada is the reverse-chronological format (which is also called the chronological format).

It’s so widely used that it’s expected by most recruiters. The chronological format puts your most recent work experiences first and then goes back in time.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

reverse chronological resume format

One of the other formats is the functional resume format , also known as the skills-based resume format, which focuses on your key strengths and abilities. It’s recommended for career changers or recent graduates with little-to-no experience in the field they’re applying for.

Then, we have the combination resume format . As the name suggests, it mixes elements of both the chronological and functional format. This format gives equal attention to a candidate’s experience and skills. It provides a detailed skill summary and is a good choice for applicants who have a noticeable employment gap but plenty of work experience nonetheless.

#2. Follow These Layout Tips

If your resume looks cluttered and unorganized, the hiring manager is less likely to want to read it.

But paying attention to your resume’s layout can get you a better chance.

Stick to these formatting tips when building your Canadian resume:

#3. List the Right Contact Information

Once you’ve sorted out your resume layout, it’s time to start filling in its content.

The contact information section is the first thing you should list. Here’s what to include:

Optionally, you can include a link to your LinkedIn profile, a personal website, or an online portfolio. Just make sure they’re updated and relevant to the application.

#4. Write Your Resume Summary

Each resume only has a few seconds to catch a recruiter’s attention, so you have to make yours eye-catching and easy to read.

Here’s where a resume summary comes in. 

Going at the top of your resume, a resume summary is a two or three-sentence-long summary of your career. It includes:

resume summary formula

If you’re less experienced, you can opt for a resume objective instead. A resume objective focuses on your skills and motivation to grow in your chosen field, rather than on prior experience and professional achievements.

When applying for a remote job for a company based in Canada, mention this in your resume summary. If you’re looking for a company that’s going to relocate you to Canada , make sure to mention that in your resume instead, so you don’t waste time for yourself or the hiring manager.

#5. Include Your Work Experience

Work experience is the most important section on a Canadian resume . 

It lets you expand on your past achievements and responsibilities, proving to the hiring manager you’re the best candidate for the job.

Here’s how you should structure this section:

Structuring your work experience the right way is only half the work. To stand out from the competition, you want this section to be as impressive as possible.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help with that:

work experience on a resume

Are you a recent graduate with no work experience on your resume ? Don’t sweat it - we’ve got a guide to help you find your first job .

#6. Add Your Education

In Canadian resumes, the education section typically goes right under your work experience.

Here’s how you should format this section:

It should look something like this:

B.A. in Computer Science

Concordia University

08/2019 - 06/2023

Follow these tips to make this section pop:

#7. Highlight Your Greatest Skills & Strengths

The skill section shows which candidates have the necessary expertise for the job, and no Canadian resume is complete without it.

Skills are typically divided into two categories:

The trick here is, don’t list every skill you’ve ever learned, just the ones relevant to the job you’re applying for.

If you’re going to be a graphic designer, your Photoshop skills are more important than your forklift certification. Recruiters want to know which skills make you the right candidate for them, not which skills make you the most well-rounded individual.

Scan the job description and jot down which of your skills the company is looking for. Then add them to your Canadian resume.

Just make sure you don’t focus solely on one type of skill over the other. A good application covers both soft skills and hard skills, depending on the job requirements.

Here’s an example:

skills on resume

#8. Leverage Additional Sections

If you’ve covered all the essential resume sections and have some space left, consider adding some optional resume sections.

These sections aren’t as vital as the ones we’ve covered so far, and they won’t do as much heavy lifting on your resume as your work experience, skills, or education.

However, they can help set you apart from candidates with similar work experience and skills as yours. 

For example, if choosing between two equally qualified professionals, and the position includes collaboration with French-speaking employees or business partners, the hiring manager is likely to choose a candidate who can speak French.

Here are the additional sections you can include on your resume:

#9. Include a cover letter

Cover letters are still an essential companion piece to any resume.

Adding a cover letter to your application shows the hiring manager you’re ready to take all the necessary steps to land the job.

Cover letters also complement resumes by allowing you to elaborate on things you don’t have the space for in your resume, such as certain achievements or employment gaps.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what your cover letter should include:

Struggling to write your cover letter? Check out these cover letter examples to get inspired.

FAQs About Canadian Resumes

Do you still have any questions? Check out the answers to the most frequently asked questions about Canadian resumes.

1. How can I create a Canadian resume as an international student?

Whether you’re looking to apply to a university in Canada, secure an internship , or land your first job after your graduation, your main focus should be on your academic achievements.

Education is highly valued in Canada and your credentials and relevant coursework will boost your resume, so long as you keep it relevant to the position you’re applying for.

When describing your education, you can also add the location next to your school or university’s name. E.g.: “Marmara University, Turkey” instead of just “Marmara University”.

2. Should the Canadian resume be in a PDF or Word file format?

Generally speaking, a PDF is the preferred format for resumes since it remains the same regardless of what operating system or device you use to open it. Moreover, it keeps your formatting and illustrations in place, and can’t be edited by accident when a recruiter mislicks.

Most career websites in Canada accept resumes as both PDF and Word files. Nonetheless, we recommend you have your Canadian resume exported to PDF unless the job ad specifically requests Word.

3. Do Canadians say CV or resume?

Depending on what part of Canada you’re in, people might say CV and resume interchangeably. However, outside of Quebec, these are two different documents.

Resumes are typically not longer than two pages and are meant to be tailored to the job you’re applying for. CVs, on the other hand, are far more detailed and appropriate for academic settings or specific senior-level applications.

4. What should you NOT include on a Canadian resume?

As an anti-discrimination measure, pictures of yourself and personal information, are legally prohibited from job applications. This means your nationality, age, gender, religion, immigration status, political affiliation, marital status, and social insurance number, have no place on your resume.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s taboo for applicants to include their salary expectations on a Canadian resume. Salary expectations should only be provided if requested by the employer, and even then, they are best included in a cover letter, never on your resume.

Key Takeaways

And that’s a- boot it for Canadian resumes!

Let’s recap the main things you need to know on the subject:

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Writing the Work Experience Section of your CV

The ‘Work Experience’ or ‘Employment History’ section is one of the most important parts of your CV. It’s where you list current and previous jobs, and highlight relevant skills and accomplishments.

Work Experience on Your CV

The most common way to list your work experience is in reverse chronological order. However, there are other ways to organise your CV . For instance, if you don’t have much work experience yet, you can emphasise your education or training courses . What should you pay attention to when writing the ‘Work Experience’ section?

Given that this section of your CV will include a lot of information, you’ll want to make sure that recruiters can skim through it and pick out the most important points quickly.

You’ll also need to consider where you add the ‘Work Experience’ in your CV which will depend on your situation.

For South Africans, it’s worth noting that different conventions apply: In the first step of the application process, you’ll usually send only a brief profile which is a short, one page-version of your CV. The brief profile contains only essential information such as your personal information, education and previous employers.

Only upon request, you’ll send a comprehensive CV which is the same as the CV we’re discussing here.

You have a long employment history

In most cases, the ‘Work Experience’ section of the CV will come after your contact details and your personal statement .

Start with your most recent position and add details including the name of the employer and dates worked.

If you’ve had several jobs over the course of your career, only list the positions that are relevant to the job you’re applying for and omit any jobs more than 15 years old to avoid age discrimination.

You could explain any gaps in a cover letter or an interview.

If you’ve had multiple jobs in one company, you could choose to list them as separate positions or if they were similar in nature, you could stack all the positions together and then add an overall summary to describe your work experience in the company, e.g.

Content Specialist Jan 2015 - present

Editor Oct 2012 - Dec 2014

Writer Nov 2010 - Nov 2014

You have little work experience

If you have little work experience or you’ve just left education, then you’ll want to draw attention to courses you’ve taken at school, university or at other training providers.

In this case, the ‘Education’ section will be placed higher than the ‘Work Experience’ section in your CV.

Any courses you list should add value to your job application and help employers understand why you’re a suitable candidate. Therefore, there’s no need to refer to every course you’ve taken at university or school, unless it relates directly to the job you’re applying for.

In the ‘Work Experience’ section of your CV, you could mention part-time jobs, internships and even volunteering activities if they helped you to develop transferable skills. For example, if you volunteered at your local community centre, you’ll have picked up teamwork, communication and leadership skills.

Just make sure that you mention that it was a volunteering role to avoid misleading employers.

Focus on accomplishments

Many candidates simply list all their previous jobs along with their responsibilities and duties in the ‘Work Experience’ section. But these don’t show prospective employers what you can do for them.

You’ll stand a much better chance of impressing employers if you highlight the results you achieved in each position.

While many people confuse responsibilities with achievements, there is a difference: Responsibilities are routine tasks which you carry out in a job whereas achievements or accomplishments are actions that bring in benefits for your team or company.

The best way to think of an achievement is in three parts:

Here are some examples of achievements which you could use as a basis to describe your own

To quantify some of these:

Speak the company’s language

Pay attention to the job titles that you mention in your CV. Positions that are comparable in terms of content can have different job titles. For example, one company is looking for a salesperson, while another company is looking for a sales employee.

Make sure you’re speaking the company’s language but adjusting any job titles so that they match those listed in the job description or on the company website.

Gaps in your CV

Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have gaps in your CV. There are any number of reasons why you might have taken time away from the workplace: studying, sabbaticals, parental leave, redundancy or plain old unemployment.

If you’ve been in employment for a long time, there’s no harm in omitting a few jobs to include only relevant positions. This will take care of any gaps in your CV.

Similarly, when stating the dates of your employment at each company, you need only mention the month and year of your tenure.

If there are still significant gaps in the ‘Work Experience’ section of your CV, you could include volunteering experience or any part-time jobs. Even if these are not directly relevant to the position you’re applying for, they show employers that you used the time productively to pick up transferable skills.

You could also mention any personal reasons, for example, that you took time out to care for your children /parents or that you took a sabbatical to travel around the world.

You’ll of course have the opportunity to elaborate further in your cover letter and interview(s) should the opportunity arise.

Consider using a CV builder

The ‘Work Experience’ section of your CV is the most important and largest section of your CV. As it contains so much information and can therefore be difficult to format, you could consider using an online CV builder which will take care of the format and the structure . It’ll also be easier to make changes without upsetting the formatting of your CV .

Jobseeker allows you to create a CV in just a few steps. Simply choose from eight designs and you’re good to go!

Get ahead of the competition

Make your job applications stand-out from other candidates.

Using a CV maker

Using a CV maker

Tailoring your CV to the job description

Tailoring your CV to the job description

How to Write an Effective CV Objective

How to Write an Effective CV Objective


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