CV Tips: Don’t be a ‘Jack of all trades’

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints

You might be really fortunate and have a variety of experiences under your belt – whether that’s completing more than one degree in different subjects, or gaining work experience in diverse areas.

But how should this be portrayed on your CV?

  • Avoid coming across as a ‘Jack of all trades’ = ‘a person who can do many different types of work but who is not necessarily very competent at any of them’
  • Tailor your CV to the role
  • Focus on transferable skills
  • Highlight common themes in your experience
  • Re-structure your work history

Avoid coming across as a ‘Jack of all trades’

Whilst it’s great that you’ve gone out there and gained as much experience as you can, be cautious not to spread your experience too far. Someone who has had multiple experiences in one area will be better equipped than someone who has touched on experiences in multiple avenues.

For instance, if you were really craving a pizza you would trust restaurants like Pizza Express or Dominos, rather than your local pub that serves pizza alongside a variety of dishes. That’s because if someone specialises in something, they’re much more likely to be good at it.

To avoid this…

Tailor your CV to the role

It’s important that you tailor your CV to the specific role you’re applying to and cut out any irrelevant information.

The CV shouldn’t be a list of everything that you’ve done. Instead it should highlight key things that make you right for the role advertised.

For example, you’re applying for a Software Programming role. Your undergraduate degree focussed on Mechanical Engineering, but your Masters specialises in Computer Science. Naturally, you should emphasise on your Master’s Degree and cut out technical information from your Mechanical Engineering degree (i.e. engineering projects completed, engineering skills gained).

Focus on transferable skills

There will be transferrable skills in everything you experience. This could be problem solving, communication, time management, team work etc. So rather than explaining irrelevant things you have done/learnt; focus on the transferrables and the achievements.

For example, you worked in a team on a project in your Mechanical Engineering degree where you had to improve the functionality of a product. You could talk about the communication involved, how you overcame challenges and what the final result was.

Highlight common themes in your experience

What common skills are evident from your experiences? Have you always been in a customer-facing role? Have you always taken on an element of responsibility/leadership? You can demonstrate this in a 'Personal Profile'

You could also build a skills based CV, where you highlight the key skills you’ve gained that are required for the role you’re applying to. Remember to give concrete evidence and to still highlight work experience under its own heading. For more information on this, see the University's guide

Re-structure your work history

Instead of using a reverse chronological order, you could reorganise your experience under group headings, such as 'Relevant Experience' or ones that highlight functions (research, sales or marketing) or industries (finance or advertising) depending on what is most important for your application.


If you’re unsure, or you’d like some extra guidance then do book an appointment with an Applications Adviser through myfuture.

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints


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