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How to identify relevant experience and use it in your CV

Relevant experience is previous work experience relevant to the job you are interested in, in terms of the skills or knowledge required. Employers look for relevant experience, and it is often a requirement found in the job listing, making it an important aspect of your CV and cover letter.

Relevant experience does not mean that you must have held the same job title or worked in the same industry, as long as you can demonstrate that you have developed skills that apply to the new job.


Relevant experience can come from almost anywhere:

· Previous jobs

· Internships

· Volunteer work

· Freelance work

· Academic projects

· Programming projects

· Extra-curricular activities


Ultimately, recruiters want to find the perfect candidate who does the best job. The idea is that the applicant with the most relevant experience will be the most successful in the position assigned to them.


According to a report, 65% of employers prefer applicants with relevant experience. But of course, experience is the yardstick by which you'll be measured, so it's worth spending some time learning how to list your work experience on a CV.

The important thing is to list your relevant experience and your career skills at the beginning of your CV so that the hiring manager sees your relevant experience front and centre.


Use these tips to showcase your relevant experience on a CV:

1. Make a list by looking closely at the job description

Job descriptions are basically a wish list compiled by HR, so you are judged for how to describe yourself and your experience. Go through each listed job requirement and note it down. This will essentially turn into a list of skills and experiences that you should highlight on your resume.


2. Check your employment history for overlaps

Then, go through your list of experiences and look for examples of your work history that appeal to the responsibilities of the job you are applying for. The overlap between the list you draw up and your experience is your relevant experience. It doesn't matter if a task or duty isn't your primary responsibility. The goal is to include as much relevant experience as possible (without going overboard or embellishing).

3. Adapt your CV

Finally, personalise your resume to include all of the relevant experiences you just identified. The key here is to show, not to say. For example, if a job mentions customer service skills as a qualification, put it on your CV as experience and not just a skill. Keep in mind that even jobs with relatively different responsibilities can have transferable skills.


What is irrelevant experience?

Irrelevant experience is previous work experience or skills unrelated to the job you are applying for. While it is useful to have irrelevant experience, recruiters are primarily looking for relevant experience.


Relevant or irrelevant work experience

Why is all the emphasis on work experience in the first place? A recent study found that 82% of jobs required or preferred previous work experience.

The line between relevant and irrelevant experience is not always clear. It's not just about having a similar job or not. Even if a previous job did not require the same skills - you could have learned some soft or technical skills that would be useful in the new position. Explain this to the hiring manager by tailoring your CV so that previous jobs seem more relevant.


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