Nine CV writing tips after a career break

Need help to secure a job you love after a career break? Read nine CV writing tips to help you confidently write a CV you can feel proud of.

Are you too shy to let your CV shine? According to recent research by Barclays’ LifeSkills:

  • 40% of young women are intimidated by writing a CV.
  • 62% are self-conscious about promoting themselves for job prospects.
  • A third don’t have, or have never written, a CV.

Even though you may not necessarily consider yourself ‘young’ any more, these statistics are probably just as true of how many mums feel when job hunting after a career break.

Nine CV writing tips after a career break

To help you write a CV that confidently shows off your skills and experience, and will help you land a role you love, Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills at Barclays has put together nine CV writing tips.

1) Personalise every covering letter

If you’re sending out many applications, it’s tempting to just copy and paste your covering letter or email. But try to resist that temptation! It’s important to take the time to personalise each one for the role you’re applying for – and ensure that the company you’re writing knows that you are interested in them and genuinely want a job there.

Don’t know what to write? You can read how to write the perfect job application letter or email here.

2) Don’t overlook valuable non-work experience

It’s easy to feel like you don’t have a lot of experience for the role that you are applying for, or that your experience is dated and no longer relevant. But many skills are transferrable, and work is not the only way to gain valuable progressional experience.

Any roles you have taken on since leaving work, however seemingly unrelated they may be to your career directly, can help demonstrate that you’ve got the experience and passion an employer is looking for.

Volunteering is a great way to keep your skills relevant (and add new ones). And if you’re a member of your school PTA you’ll probably have acquired a host of skills, including team leadership and event management.

Whatever experience you list, just remember to link it back to the position you’re applying for, and explain how they will help you in the role.

3) Shout about your USP

When writing your CV, think about your unique selling point (USP) – the one thing that makes you stand out from every other applicant. Employers will probably receive a large number of applications, many of which will say soothing along the lines of, ‘I am sociable and work well in a team or as an individual.’

So try to make yours different, and stand out in a good way. Understand exactly what you can bring to the role that no one else will, and state that. Show your potential employer that you’re capable, confident and passionate about their role, and that you’re only the right person for it.

4) Don’t let rejections get you down

Few people sail through life without ever experiencing rejection. And with dozens of people applying for just one position, you’ll probably have to kiss a few interview frogs before you finally meet your prince.

And not only is rejection inevitable based on probability alone, it’s also a positive thing if you look at it the right way. The key to success isn’t not failing, it’s learning how to turn negative experiences into positives. (Not convinced? Read five surprising reasons why you should love failure.)

So consider every ‘failed’ interview as a practice for the interview for your perfect role. And always politely ask for feedback. You never know, there might be something really simple you’re doing wrong that you could change to turn things around.

5) Have a positive social media presence

Companies today don’t just rely on a CV and application letter when recruiting – many of them also check potential candidates’ social media profiles too. So make sure you cultivate a positive professional social media image, and don’t say anything online you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

And not just your social media content – check that your usernames and email addresses are appropriate for employers to see, too. Emailing an employer from BigBoobs79 probably won’t make the best first impression!

Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and properly written (find out how to write the perfect LinkedIn profile here). It’s your chance to not only highlight your skills and achievements but also show you are available to work in that industry too. If you’re looking for a full time position in a certain field then don’t be afraid to say so.

6) Put yourself in your employer’s shoes

Employers are busy people, and can spend as little as six seconds looking at CVs before deciding whether to reject immediately or read on. So make sure that your CV appeals to them at first glance. And the way to do this is to think like them.

What are they looking for in the role? What skills and experience do they ask for? And what language do they use when describing their company or the ideal candidate? Make sure all of these are clear and easy to see immediately on your CV.

7) Use language carefully

Talking about language, make sure that you pay attention to not just what’s on your CV but how you write it. Remember that your CV is all about selling yourself – so it helps to be positive, confident and assertive. And you can convey all these qualities through the language you use.

Once you’re happy with your CV, read through it carefully. Does it sound direct and professional? If not, you may need to tweak your language.

8) Don’t be afraid of the gap

If you’ve had a career break, don’t try to hide it. The chances are anyone looking closely at your CV (if it’s passed the six second test!) will spot it eventually, and if you’ve tried to hide or lie about it, they may wonder what else you’re not being 100% honest about.

So provide accurate dates and be open about your career break. But describe it positively, and don’t be shy about describing any worthwhile, relevant experience you have gained in that time, such as volunteering.

9) Proofread your CV

Always use spell-check and, once your CV is finished, proofread it after taking a break away from it. Even better – get someone else to proofread it too. Ask them to look for spelling mistakes, spot grammar issues and check it makes sense to them. You need to ensure that it’s clear, concise and easily understood by someone outside of the industry that you are applying to.

Good luck on your job hunt!

Once your CV is ready to go, it’s time to embrace your job hunt. If you’re looking for a job after a career break, you may find the following advice helpful: