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How to Make Your Varied Career Work for You on Your CV

An image of Nikki Vivian, Career Coach and owner of From Kids to Career.
By Nikki Vivian, Career Coach
September 5, 2017
An illustration of a woman juggling multiple responsibilities.

Having a varied career can make writing a CV a daunting prospect. On the one hand, you have so much you can include, but on the other hand, it’s hard to know how to structure your CV in a way that will impress rather than looking like you flit between jobs and passions.

A traditional Chronological CV format is widely used in the education sector but doesn’t really do justice to someone with a varied career. This type of format lists your employment in order, starting with your most recent. If you are working your way up a career ladder in a single path, it is effective in showing your progression. However, if your career history is not that straight forward, using this method will be mean that the job most relevant to the one you’re applying for might end up on page 2 and consequently be missed.


Skills-based CV

Rest assured, a varied career is a great strength, as long as you know how to document it in a way that will do it justice. The most effective way of doing this is with a skills-based CV. A skills-based CV starts with a targeted profile and skills section, relevant to the role you’re applying for with real-life examples to back up your claims. This is followed by a professional experience section, so before the reader sees what you did and when, they already know you have everything they are looking for.

When writing a skills based CV, there a few things you should consider.


Keep it targeted

With such a vast array of skills and experience, it’s tempting to put everything you’ve ever done on your CV, but with your skills section you need to be selective. Read the job description of the role you’re applying for and make sure all the skills the employer is looking for are in your skills section, with an example of how you have demonstrated that skill. This method allows you do use examples from the whole of your career and even from other areas of your life, whilst still being targeted to the role in question.


Don’t forget your transferable skills

It’s important to include transferable skills as well as specialist skills when writing a CV. These are soft skills that are essential to all careers such as communication skills, team working and problem solving. Highlight all of those that are relevant to the role and add them to your skills section with an example for each. The beauty of this CV format is that you can take these skills from any past experience. If the job is going to need excellent communication skills, your example doesn’t need to be from a similar job. Transferable skills are just that and can be demonstrated from any area of your life.


Include achievements

Make sure your skills section is achievement heavy. You don’t want it to read like a job description. Rather than saying that you are good at meeting targets and deadlines and do this regularly, give a specific example of a time you exceeded your targets. Include stats if you can to back up your claim.


Take away

When writing your CV the most important thing is that it is tailored to the role you’re applying for. The format you use needs to effectively reflect your experience and skills and do it justice. Don’t be afraid to experiment rather than going with the grain.


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Nikki Vivian is a Career Coach and owner of From Kids to Career, which was set up to support women who are returning to a career, or looking to move in a new direction after taking time out to raise a family. Nikki works with Mums to find their true passions and to re-build confidence that can be lost after a break from the work place. She believes passionately that being a parent does not put you at the bottom of the pile when it comes to your career. Nikki owns CV writing company Confident CV and has 8 years experience working in Careers for Cardiff University.

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