How to Create a Career Break CV
Job hunting after a career break can be daunting and when you need to blow the cobwebs off your CV before you even start, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
But don’t despair! A little effort now will not only ensure your CV has the wow factor but will also get you focusing on your strengths and feeling more confident about the next steps.
Follow our guide to create a “back to work” CV that really shines:
- Remind yourself of all you have to offer
If you’ve spent the last few years raising your children, that fantastic project you pulled off in your last job can seem like a lifetime ago. If you feel like you’ve lost touch with the “professional you”, start by spending a bit of time looking back over the roles on your CV. Make a list of all the skills, experience and achievements they demonstrate and remind yourself that – yes – that really is you!
- Bring your work experience up to date
There’s a good chance you might not have updated your CV with your last role, so dig out your old appraisals to help you do this. Summarise your skills and achievements (focusing on what you achieved personally, as opposed to your team or company) and make sure they appear in your personal statement, too. Don’t forget to update the qualifications section to reflect any relevant on-the-job or professional training.
- Include your career break
It’s ok to be upfront about taking a career break. Taking time away from work to be with your children isn’t exactly out of the ordinary and doesn’t detract from your skill set – in fact, quite the opposite. From mentoring to conflict management, mums pick up masses of skills that are valued in the workplace and can give returners a fresh perspective. At Successful Mums, we suggest listing the dates of your career break and adding a few lines on the most important and transferable of the parenting skills you’ve used on your latest, life-changing “project”.
- Highlight your voluntary work
Voluntary roles can help you showcase additional skills or more recent work experience. Include things like PTA fundraising (with amounts raised) or event organising, volunteering in the classroom or managing your child’s sports team. Make a note if you’ve had first aid or safeguarding training or a DBS check as part of your role.
- Cover the key words
Industry jargon and job titles change all the time and recruiters increasingly screen CVs by searching for key words, so make sure you’ve got them covered. A quick search of job ads in your field will help you identify the most common key words and incorporate them in your CV. If you’re tailoring your CV for a specific job, it’s always a good idea to directly mirror the language in the ad.
- Edit and declutter
A two-page CV is ideal, so make sure yours is clear and concise. Use a consistent, reasonably sized font, with bold text for headings. There’s no need to include your date of birth, marital status or address, or to go into detail about your GCSEs and A-Levels if you have a degree or post-graduate qualification. Remove references to training on obsolete software or technology, which can make you sound out of touch. If you have a long employment history, it’s also acceptable to group together earlier, less relevant roles to avoid wasting space.
- Tailor it each time you use it
Once you have a “master” version of your CV, you can tailor it for each application. Your personal statement needs to capture a recruiter’s attention, so make sure it shouts about your USP and why you’re the perfect fit for this particular job. Mirror the language of the job description and check the key words. Remember to save each version with an identifiable file name, so you can retrieve it easily if you get an interview.
- Do a final check!
Proofread your CV for spelling and grammar. Ask a friend to cast a critical eye over it and give you feedback; this is especially helpful if they’re involved in your industry and can spot any gaps or missteps. Double-check that your email address and contact phone number are correct and at the top of the first page where they are easy to find. And while we’re on the subject, don’t let an unprofessional email address scupper your chances. While your friends might enjoy receiving a message from Madmumma29, it’s definitely better to set up a new, more appropriate address for your job hunt! Finally, before you press “send”, check out the Golden rules for emailing your CV on our flexible Job Board.
You can get more great CV advice, along with 1 to 1 feedback and coaching, on our popular Back to Work course. Book your free* place today or find out more about how Successful Mums can boost your job hunt by joining us for a Taster Session.
*subject to eligibility