Is your child starting school in September? Are you planning to go back to paid work once they’ve started school? Going back after a career break or redundancy? Below are 7 tips for your CV confidence, step 4 in your 12 essential steps to plan your return to work with confidence.
If you have been following this series of posts about returning to work, you have already explored:
- Understand your values – read post
- Identify your skills and strengths – read post
- The all-important LinkedIn profile – read post
The next step then, whether you stepped off the career ladder for a few years or you are looking to change career, is to refresh your CV.
I know from talking to my one-to-one clients, that this is a daunting task. Very often the first thoughts are “how do I hide the career break”, “my skills are out-of-date”, “I don’t know what I’m good at” … you are suffering from “career breakitis”. However YOU are still YOU. You still have the same natural talents and strengths that you always had PLUS you have new ones. New ones? Yes those new skills and achievements that you have acquired through parenting or volunteering. More ideas at Birds on the Blog on how to use your parenting skills on your CV.
How to represent the career break
First off – don’t hide it. It’s fine to state the career break however ideally demonstrate WHAT you have done during that career break e.g. have you been treasurer for your local NCT branch (accounts, attention to detail)? did you help to run the toddler the group (leadership, volunteer coordination)? did you join your local MSLC (represent service users, campaign)?
And if you have not yet done anything like this, NOW is the time to find something. Your local NCT branch will welcome you with open arms. Check your local newspaper – local community groups and charities often recruit that way. Get involved with a local sporting event e.g. Race for Life need volunteers.
My skills are out of date
Your skills might be a little rusty, however you DO still have your talents and strengths that are part of being you. It may be that there are some technology skills that need brushing up, however your ability to negotiate, to analyse, to write, to balance risk, etc are still there. And you’ll never forget how to do them – it’s just like riding a bike. If you haven’t ridden a bike for a few years, you don’t have to learn again from scratch. You might be a little wobbly the first time on the bike but it’s only a few minutes to regain your confidence. And don’t forget your NEW skills.
I don’t know what I’m good at
Write down all your achievements – both at work and in life – whether it’s winning a key piece of business, presenting at a conference, managing a tricky project, organising a house move, learning from mistakes, working in another country … YOU are the same person still that achieved all of that. Think about your strengths – what you are good at and what energises you. What do others think you are good at? Ask ex-work colleagues and friends for feedback.
What about the CV
Your personal profile or personal statement needs to be engaging. CV expert Mildred Talabi suggests thinking of your personal statement as a movie trailer. It’s got to grab the attention of whoever is reviewing your CV. Think of it as your elevator pitch in writing. Keep it fairly brief, just 2 or 3 sentences. It needs to sum up WHO you are and WHAT you have to offer. Target it to the industry or sector that you are applying to. It needs to be written in the 3rd person (not 1st person). Be specific and do mention any specific requirements noted in the job description. State what you are looking for.
When you indicate your skills, provide specific examples of how and when you use those skills. Use Action words such as managed, delivered, supplied, achieved, organised, increased to describe your achievements and where possible quantify. For example “managed the £3M budget for all hardware and software supplies”. Rather than just describing the role, demonstrate the value you brought to the role.
You can choose to write a chronological or functional CV. Do a search on “CV template”, you will find plenty of options if you are stuck on this. The key is that the presentation needs to be professional, clean, uncluttered, easy on the eye, with white space, wide margins and on one side of the paper only.
You may have heard of the 2-page rule for CVs. However the 2-page rule is worthless if you squeeze too much information onto the page making it difficult to read. It takes 30 seconds to impress a potential employer and if they have to concentrate hard to read your CV, they won’t.
Finally spell check and proof check. It is SO easy to miss a minor spelling mistake or typo when you have been looking at the same document over and over. Do ask somebody else to review.
If you are a mum who’s taken a career break, and now you want to go back to paid work, refreshing your CV is an absolute essential. Remember: Don’t hide the career break, include your new skills, reflect on your past achievements and remember you are still you, make the most of the personal statement to engage the potential employer, make it clear what you can offer, and make sure the presentation impresses.
What surprises me sometimes when I talk to clients and then review their CV as part of my one-to-one service, I wonder if it’s the same person. Don’t be modest. Include your amazing achievements. Be proud. Your CV is one time when it IS absolutely OK to boast.
Tick off those ‘must do’ essentials
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Feeling stuck? Lacking confidence? Want to return to work soon?
You’ll love my 15 Day Back to Work Essentials Challenge – created to make it really easy for you to get started (not stressed) today: one small step every day for 15 days, all designed to be completed in 15 minutes or less. Tick off those ‘must do’ essentials to update your CV and LinkedIn. And it’s free!