Should You Put Unrelated Experience on Your CV?

Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2021 by The CV WizardNo comments

Thanks to Covid, the UK working arena has changed massively; there are now more roles with skill shortages, and more candidates looking to step out of certain industries and use their transferable skills to make a career change. For many, this leaves them asking the question, “Should I put unrelated work experience on my CV?”

The short answer is yes. But there’s much more you need to know. Many of us are in a position where we might have experience that’s valuable but isn’t particularly relevant to the position we’re actually after. This can be due to the passage of time, a career change, or working multiple temporary jobs.

You don’t want to waste precious CV space on experiences that aren’t relevant, but focus on those that are valuable to you and prevent gaps. So what do you do?

Make it relevant

The first thing is to consider if the work experience is truly irrelevant. The vast majority of office support jobs in London actually rely heavily on transferable skills, which are adaptable and can be applied in a multitude of ways. For example, if you worked in retail then one of your most critical transferable skills for office support work will be customer service.

Take a critical approach to the roles you are applying for and your previous experience. Think about what the new employer is looking to identify in their ideal candidate. Then consider if this is one of your transferable skills.

If it is, you’ll need to frame your experience to highlight it. Weight the content on your CV to emphasise these transferable skills, and give less space to less relevant ones.

A matter of wording

Although employers are suddenly finding that they don’t necessarily have a huge pool of candidates to choose from, they still often have enormous choice. They are likely to have multiple candidates that tick most of their boxes at first glance.

Your “irrelevant” experience can actually be the icing on the cake and give you the edge over other candidates. It can be the additional experience that makes you stand out from the crowd—if you word it well. You can pop in extras here, including awards, volunteering, and extracurricular activities, such as articles or blogs that you’ve written. Wherever possible, always quantify things to show how they benefited your employer.

A matter of time

As you get older and more experienced, and especially if you have worked multiple temporary jobs throughout your career, you will have to be savvy about what you include. This can also help you navigate age discrimination if it’s a concern for you. Take the earliest chunk of your career and summarise it in a single sentence, before concentrating on your more recent and relevant experience. 

Conversely, if you’re at the earlier stage of your career and are worried that you don’t have enough relevant experience, you can bring in transferable skills from other areas of life, like we describe above.

Experience is the bulk of your CV

The experience outlined on your CV should form the bulk of what you write, so use it well. Make it relevant to the role you’re applying for. If you want an experienced third party to take a look at your CV and offer an opinion, then register as a candidate and our consultants will help.


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