The English application: Curriculum vitae

Curriculum vitae: Work experience

Work experience

Work experience is listed reverse chronologically. Begin the list with your most recent job. The reader is less interested in activities that you did 10 years ago, but rather in what you are doing right now or did last, the things you are good at currently.

Since students and university graduates may lack professional experience, they can list internships or volunteer work in this category. For example, you can mention that you are the head of a regional group of Amnesty International or Greenpeace and list out your responsibilities here. Unpaid professional experience is not the only thing that counts. Especially in the US, extracurricular activities add considerable value when applying to universities. These reveal more about your personality and are as important as your academic performance.

The main details in the CV are the period during which you worked for a company as well as the company's name and location. When stating the period of work, mention the month and the year. It makes a difference whether your internship was from December 2012 to February 2013, or from 2012 to 2013. This information would help the recipient to form a realistic assessment of your qualifications. If you leave out the month, your application might be set aside as the reader of the CV would not gain a good overview of your skills and qualifications. The reader might even feel misled or suspect that you left something out intentionally, in an attempt to present yourself in a better way.

Remember that some cities might be unknown to the recipient. Hence, it is a good idea to mention the country after the city. For example:

Company XY, Oldenburg, Germany
Company XY, Umag, Croatia.

Having listed the company name and city/country, state your professional title. If the job title is not meaningful or difficult to translate into English, one alternative is to list your area of responsibility.

The title is followed by a list of main tasks and activities that you undertook within the project or company. Use ‘action words’ to accomplish this. Note that ‘action words’ are active verbs that emphasize your performance. Here is a small selection of helpful ‘action words’.

accomplished, achieved, acquired
competed, compiled, conceived, consolidated
established, expedited, evaluated
increased, initiated, investigated
provided, published

The ‘action words’ are not simply listed beneath the activity, but mentioned in connection with tasks:

Contributed to the strategy of …
Achieved well-known experiences in …
Provided IT-support to…
Increased the profit of …
Established a …
Represented the company at …
Volunteered for …

A complete list of all activities is not necessary. Instead, select only those activities and tasks that fit the advertised position. Customize your CV for each individual vacancy. An application can be successful only if the skills and abilities mentioned in your CV match the job description. This also prevents your CV from becoming too long. Seize the opportunity to emphasize only those skills and knowledge that are required to demonstrate your suitability for the position. Job descriptions specify the characteristics and professional experience that a candidate should have. Read the description carefully and, if possible, use similar language.

Short and sweet

Include the following:
  • Indication of the work period, including month and year
  • Name of the company and location (city and country)
  • Job title or area of responsibility
  • Statement of main activities and tasks

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