How do I explain the gap on my CV after a career break?

‘How do I explain the gap on my CV?’ is one of the most frequent questions we get asked. It’s a good question and one that causes many of our returners considerable angst. But, not anymore…

Victoria McLean, CEO of City CV, ran a fantastic session on this topic at our Women Returners conference last year. And, we’re delighted she’s agreed to come back this year. The session is really interactive and packed with expert tips and insider knowledge of the recruitment market – it’s definitely not to be missed.

As a taste of what’s to come, we asked Victoria to give us her top tips for writing your return to work CV and making the most of LinkedIn. Here’s what she had to say:

Top Tip #1: Never undersell yourself on your CV

I feel a lot of people, women returners in particular, undersell themselves on their CV. It’s not about bragging, but a stand-out CV really needs to demonstrate the benefits you’ll bring to an employer. Your added-value needs to sing out from every line. Most people find that a bit daunting at first, especially after a career break when so many women forget just how great they are. My advice is – don’t panic, we’ll cover loads of ideas in the conference session.

There are several ways to turn a gap on your CV into a positive selling point – make sure to include all the relevant skills and experience you’ve acquired. I’ll talk about this in more depth at the conference. We’ll also be looking at how to hone in on those key strengths and skills. And, how to optimise your CV with key words to get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Top Tip #2: LinkedIn is a valuable tool

When it comes to LinkedIn, I feel very few people are really making the most of it. That’s a shame because it’s a valuable tool. Around 99% of recruiters use it to search for suitable candidates and to check you out before inviting you to interview.

It’s really worth investing in your LinkedIn profile because it’s not enough to just copy and paste your CV. LinkedIn requires a different approach; it’s less formal and more dynamic than a CV. And, as you’d expect from a search engine run by algorithms, key words play a massive role. Your LinkedIn summary is the most important part of your profile and it should set out your business case with keywords and using all of the 2,000 characters available. It’s really important to get the first two or three lines just right so recruiters are motivated to click ‘see more’.

Even if you’re completely new to LinkedIn, don’t worry. The conference session will boost your confidence and get you going in the right direction. If you’ve already got a LinkedIn profile but feel you could be doing more with it, we’ve got some ideas for that too.

Thank you, Victoria. We’re looking forward to learning more at your session.

Victoria McLean, CEO of City CV, will be running a conference session on how to write a compelling, impressive CV and Linkedin profile, including how to position your career break. She will also be running a breakout session on Interview Skills.

Where & When?

The 2020 Women Returners London Conference is on:

Monday 12 October 2020: 9.00am to 5.30pm

Format TBC

This is our fourth annual London Conference especially for professional woman interested in returning to work after a career break. It’s a highly motivational and inspiring day packed with expert speakers, panels and workshops.

This conference is for everyone looking to return to work after a break. It doesn’t matter what your professional background is or whether your career break has been 18 months or 18 years. Join us for the opportunity to meet informally with other like-minded women and our returner employer sponsors, including Amazon Web Services, Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, FDM Group, J.P. Morgan, O2 and St. James’s Place Academy.

For more details see: Women Returners Conference

Why your career break is a positive not a negative

There are lots of reasons for a career break – to care for young children or other relatives, for health reasons, to study, to travel or simply to recharge your batteries.


Far from being something to try to hide when you want to return to the workplace, there are very good reasons why you – and your potential employers – should celebrate your break.

We know from experience that returners re-enter the workplace with a fresh perspective, together with renewed energy and motivation. Employers value this too. At our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference 2019, O2’s Andrea Jones told the audience:

“There’s so much experience the returners have before their career break and they’ve gained so many skills on their career break. They come in with a really fresh pair of eyes….they can look at our processes and our systems and the ways we work quite differently. I think it’s a real breath of fresh air – and that’s what we hear from our managers.”

Other employers spoke about the enthusiasm of the returners they had hired, the fact that they are incredibly efficient as time management comes more naturally to them, and their desire to contribute more broadly to the organisation rather than just doing their job. Returners were also valued as role models for younger employees of people who had taken a non-traditional career path.

Dependent on the reason for your career break, you are also likely to have developed a variety of new skills. For example:

  • If you’ve taken time out to care for others you will have honed your communication, time-management and organisation skills. And nothing improves negotiation ability more than getting to a compromise with a teenager! 
  • If you’ve done skilled voluntary work you will have developed both teamwork and leadership skills – managing volunteers is much harder than paid staff.
  • If you were travelling or studying, this can signal an openness to experiences and a motivation to learn and develop. 
  • If your break was because of a personal trauma or health issue, you will have developed resilience and fortitude.

When writing your return-to-work CV and cover letter and preparing for interviews consider everything you’ve done during your break. Make sure the skills and experience you’ve acquired come across – they are an important part of who you are now. 

Switch your focus. Rather than seeing your career break as a negative to employers, focus on how it differentiates you and makes you a better employee,  gaining maturity, perspective and many new skills. You will be an asset to your next employer because of, not in spite of, your career break.

Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities.You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

Five tips for writing your back-to-work CV

The end of the holidays and the new school year will be with us in a few weeks. If that’s got you thinking about re-igniting your own career Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO of career consultancy City CV, has some tips to get your CV in great shape.

Returning to professional life can be daunting. But a career break should never hold you back. The first step in your back-to-work plan is to make sure you have a professional, targeted and compelling CV that highlights your relevant strengths, achievements and skills.

Here are my top tips for creating a CV that will convince prospective employers of your value to them:

1. Tailor your CV to your target role

Think about what the employer really needs. What skills are they looking for? Why would they pick you over potentially hundreds of other candidates? Be positive and make a list of your skills and achievements from previous roles and personal experiences that demonstrate you have what it takes to match their requirements.

2. Get up to speed on Applicant Tracking Systems

If you’ve been out of the job market for a while, you may not know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These work like a search engine – scanning CVs for key words. If your CV is to get past the ATS and onto the desk of a real human, you need to identify the key words from the job description – and then use them.

3. Don’t start with a gap

Mention your career break, but keep it simple and lean. Include a short ‘Career Break’ section under your work experience, with dates, including any professionally-relevant activities such as skilled volunteering or a home-based business.

4. Cherry pick

It can be a challenge to distil a long or varied career into two pages. But, it is possible if you highlight exceptional projects, skills and experience that align with your target role. Facts and figures are a great way to reinforce your results and achievements.

5. Don’t forget about the six-second test

On average, recruiters take just six seconds to decide whether to reject a CV or read on – so it needs to be compelling. Would your current CV pass this test? If you’re not sure, sign up for our next CV webinar below.

 

Advice from Employers to Returners – How to Make Yourself Stand Out in CVs and Interviews

At our 2019 Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference, Claire Cohen, Women’s Editor of The Telegraph, interviewed five of our employer sponsors who have experience of running successful returner programmes: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, FDM Group, Fidelity International and O2.

Read some of the highlights on CV and interview advice from the panel’s responses below (and see our previous post on recognising your value too).
How can you write a great CV for a returner programme? “Make sure you bring out your career break on your CV – the experience that you’ve had and what you’ve done, the skills that you’ve learned. Some people leave this out and just put the dates in instead of explaining what they’ve done during that period.”

“Most people have amazing backgrounds. Demonstrate the skills you want the employer to see, bring those out with some real-life examples on your CV.”

“What I really look for is experience – make sure this is fully explained on your CV and at the interview as well, because the experience you bring is so different from other candidates and that’s what really sets you apart.”

“Put your career break front and centre of your CV. There’s no point in trying to hide it – why should you? It’s absolutely part of who you are and the experience you’re bringing to the role so draw that out at the beginning.”

“If you want an employer to give your CV time, to give you time, you need to put the time in yourself. Before you press the send button read it a second, third time and just make sure that it makes sense.”

How can you present yourself well during an interview?

“It’s very important to come to the table with what you are bringing to the organisation and not to focus on what you may not have, such as technical/digital skills.”

“Be prepared. When you go to that interview know your CV, know your skills and don’t dismiss the soft skills.”

“Articulate what your top strengths are – this can be powerful in an interview.” (see What’s your Unique Strengths Combination)

“Don’t define yourself by what you’ve done before. Think about transferable skills. Break down what you’ve done into elements that will help an employer understand what you bring to the table.”

“Try to be succinct. Articulate exactly what skills you bring.”

“Don’t undersell what you’ve been doing – a lot of people undersell what they’ve done during their supposed ‘time out’.”

Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities.You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

How best to use LinkedIn

Recently we spoke to Victoria McLean – CEO and founder of City CV – to find out the best way to optimise your Linkedin profile. But once you have followed Victoria’s excellent advice, what happens next? Do you know how to use LinkedIn to its full advantage?
We asked Victoria for some tips:
Connect with people – spend time making connections and growing your network. The more first-degree connections you make the more second and third-degree connections you will then have, which will increase your chances of coming up in searches. And, of course, building your network will encourage more people to connect with you directly.
Join LinkedIn groups – every region and industry sector have their own groups and they are a great way to increase your visibility and connect with people who may be able to help you achieve your goal. You’ll be able to raise your profile by posting and commenting in groups, and LinkedIn allows you to message other group members free of charge. So, if you see someone in a group you belong to who is already working in a job/area that appeals to you – or even someone who has hiring responsibilities – you can contact them for advice.
Join LinkedIn career groups – these groups are often set up by recruiters so that they can make potential candidates aware of roles they are recruiting for without having to use LinkedIn’s paid-for service. Use LinkedIn’s search engine to find these groups and join them so that you’ll be the first to hear about new opportunities – once you have optimised your LinkedIn profile, of course!
Use LinkedIn Jobs – you can search for vacancies by job title and location, state where you are in your job search and select what kind of role you are looking for – eg, full-time, part-time, contract etc. You can also set up alerts and save jobs that appeal to you. If you are interested in working for specific companies, you can also choose to receive alerts when they post new job vacancies. Your activity in LinkedIn Jobs is not made public.
Ask for recommendations and endorsements – recommendations are similar to testimonials or references and can be from former colleagues, bosses or clients – you just need to send someone you have worked with a friendly request to provide you with a recommendation. And when you have listed your key skills, you can ask first degree contacts to endorse these skills on your profile. Both testimonials and endorsements are a great way of validating your profile and showcasing your experience. If you’re nervous about asking for support in this way, why not offer to endorse the skills of others and provide them with testimonials if you can? More often than not they will offer to do the same for you.
Sharing content and posting blogs – sharing useful content or even posting blogs you have written yourself are great ways to increase your visibility and credibility. You could even set up your own LinkedIn group if you spot a gap and feel it would be useful for your job search/future career.
City CV will be running a LinkedIn Key Essentials workshop at our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference in London on 13 May. And a professional photographer will be taking LinkedIn headshots. These options are subject to availability, so if you are interested in either do book your Conference ticket now.

How to optimise your LinkedIn profile

Everyone knows how important it is to be on LinkedIn – it’s the top social media site for career and professional networking. And while most people do have a LinkedIn profile, it’s surprising how few know how to optimise their profile so they can maximise their chances of finding a role.

We spoke to Victoria McLean – CEO and founder of City CV – to find out what you need to do, as a returner, to make sure your LinkedIn profile becomes your hardworking ally on your return-to-work journey.

First of all, let’s understand why LinkedIn is so important when you’re looking to return to work after a career break or indeed for any subsequent job search. Well, here the stats are clear – and mind-blowing. Ninety-seven percent of recruiters/headhunters use LinkedIn as their primary way to source candidates; 85% of recruiters make their shortlist decisions based on LinkedIn alone and nearly 50% of engaged users of LinkedIn have hiring decision making authority.

“LinkedIn is your online marketing document. It’s your business case that needs to clearly demonstrate why you meet your future employer’s needs and why they should hire you,” says Victoria. “Your profile is all about strategically aligning you to your target role,” she adds. It’s used in every part of the recruitment process.”

Victoria recommends starting with a blank Word document so that you can strategically plan out, format and spell check your information before you put anything online.

Here are the steps she recommends you take:

1. Carry out a detailed keyword research. This is where you need to start. Create a list of key words and phrases (key skills, expertise, job titles etc) that a recruiter or a computer algorithm is likely to use to find candidates like you. The more keywords you have the better. It doesn’t matter if you’re saying the same thing in lots of different ways – make sure you cover all your bases. Once you have a comprehensive list, use it in every part of your profile so that you can be easily found. And remember – keyword breadth and density is important.

2. Create a killer profile. The first things a recruiter will see are your photo, name, headline and location so it’s super-important to get these right. Make sure you use a corporate-type photo – professionally shot, if possible. When it comes to your headline, LinkedIn’s default is to use your last job title, but you can change this and create a brief, powerful picture of who you are and what you have to offer. You have 120 characters so try to use all of them wisely. Make sure you include your industry (or target industry) in your headline to increase your chances of appearing in recruiters’ searches. For your location, it’s important to say where you want to work, not where you live. Recruiters screen by location and if you leave this out, or have the wrong location, you could miss out on a lot of opportunities.

3. Craft your summary. This is the most important and valuable part of your profile and it should set out your business case. Find a tone, style and level of detail that suits you, make sure it is keyword rich and use all the 2,000 characters available to you. It’s completely up to you whether you use the first or third person when writing your summary, although Victoria says she prefers to use the first person. It’s really important to get the first two or three lines spot on so that recruiters are motivated to click on ‘see more’. One way of making sure you have used all your keywords is to have a list of your specialities within your summary.

4. Talk about your experience. Make sure you use job titles that are searchable (eg Marketing Manager not Brand Warrior). And double check that your job titles and dates match those in your CV. Use the first person and bullet points or short paragraphs – enough to entice a recruiter to contact you – but don’t copy and paste from your CV. Focus on the most important information and go back far enough so that former colleagues can find you.

5. Fill in your education details. It’s important to add your university (and maybe school) details as you’re likely to receive 17x the messages you would get if you left this section blank.

6. Detail your skills and expertise. You can add up to 50 skills and areas of expertise. This section is an ideal opportunity to use your keywords to say the same thing in different ways (to maximise the chances of your profile coming up in searches). LinkedIn will guide you and suggest similar phrases. Input the skills needed for your target role, putting the most relevant ones first. See if you can get endorsed by your contacts for these keys skills as endorsed skills will appear at the top of the list.

City CV will be running a LinkedIn Key Essentials workshop at our Women Returners ‘Back to Your Future’ Conference in London on 13 May. And a professional photographer will be taking LinkedIn headshots. These options are subject to availability, so if you are interested in either do book your Conference ticket now.

Make your CV stand out: Use action verbs

If you’ve taken a long career break it could be many
years, and possibly even decades, since you last wrote a CV. Don’t just redo an old version, as CVs are now written in a very different way (see How to Write Your Post-Break CV).

One of the major changes is the shift from talking about your past responsibilities to highlighting your achievements. Gone are the days
when simply describing your previous roles was enough to secure an interview. Now you need to explain what you achieved in previous jobs which made you stand out.

We suggest you aim for 3-5 bullet points for each of your previous roles (and for your career break if you have done any work/volunteering/studying or developed skills in other ways such as relocation).

Beginning your bullet point with an action verb is a great way to start off.



What are action verbs?

These are some examples:

 

achieved     completed     conducted     implemented    improved     negotiated
produced     secured        created         established       launched     developed
organised    revitalised     evaluated      restructured     simplified    drove

Why are action verbs important in your CV?

  • Action verbs describe your past achievements in a compelling way that highlights your strengths and suitability for the role you’re applying for.
  • Action verbs keep bullet points short – particularly important if you have lots of past experience and are trying to keep your CV to the recommended maximum two sides of A4. For example, ‘Delivered XYZ project on time and within budget’, reads better than ‘I was responsible for delivering XYZ project on time and within budget.’
  • Action verbs have more impact. They are specific, strong and powerful. If a recruiter has lots of CVs to sift through, action verbs make your achievements stand out. They also help if employers use applicant tracking software programmed to look for specific words to describe the experience needed for a role.
  • Action verbs help you to be specific in describing what the results of your actions were and how you achieved them.
  • Action verbs can highlight your relevant skills/competencies (see below)

Which action verbs should you use? 

  • Scan the job advert and job description, similar job ads in the same industry, and the company’s website to see which verbs they use. Describing your past experiences using these words will give you the best chance of making your CV fit the bill.
  • Look at this action verb list which groups action words by skills group. Think about which skills you want to demonstrate – again, matching this back to the skills/competencies asked for on the job advert
  • Don’t use the same action verb more than twice. Use an online thesaurus or the action verb list to avoid repetition and keep the recruiter’s interest.

Do read our other blogs How to Write Your Post-Break CV and Return to Work CV Tips for other advice on writing your back-to-work CV.

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You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

How to be a successful returner candidate

There are many reasons why employers want to attract those returning to the workplace after an extended break. Returning professionals offer a wealth of experience, maturity and a fresh perspective. Employers are now starting to recognise this and other positives of bringing returners into their organisation. By hiring returners an employer is able to tackle skills shortages, improve gender and age diversity, tap into a high-calibre talent pool, and improve their organisation’s attractiveness to potential employees in general.
But what do employers look for in individual candidates and how can you make the most of your skills and experience when you apply for a returner programme or any open role?
Here are our five top tips:
  1. Don’t try to hide your break on your CV or make excuses for it in the
    interview. If you’re applying for a returner programme, it is especially
    important to mention that you have been on a career break, including
    the length of your break at the time the programme starts. You risk
    being excluded from these opportunities if you try to cover up your
    break. If it’s been a while since you updated your CV and cover letter,
    read our blogs How to Write Your Post-Break CV and How to Write a Back-To-Work Cover Letter.
  2. Don’t undersell yourself. Learn to tell your story. Make sure you’re aware of, and appreciate, all the skills, experience and perspective that you can bring to an organisation. It’s likely that you will return to the workplace recharged, refreshed and enthusiastic to take on the challenge with new skills developed during your break. Make the most of this in interviews. This is the time to blow your own trumpet!
  3. Low professional confidence is common in women who have taken a career break. If you feel this is an issue for you, take steps to build your confidence back up again so that you believe in yourself and in your skills and experience. And don’t forget to read the success stories on our website for proof that, no matter how long your break, you can get back into a great job.
  4. Research and prepare thoroughly for interviews. Consider why you are a great fit for the organisation/role and articulate what sets you apart. Develop detailed examples of your competencies and skills – including transferrable ones – and prepare answers to typical questions.
  5. Show your enthusiasm and positivity. How you behave and the way in which you communicate is just as important as what you say in an interview. Make sure the interviewer can see the energy and motivation you’ll bring to their organisation!

Remember that employers aren’t doing you a favour. They have sound business reasons for encouraging returners back into the workplace to take on stimulating and rewarding roles. Taking the time to prepare yourself to make the most of this will put you in a strong position to resume a successful career.

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Telling your return to work story

“I struggle to view myself as anything more than a mother any more”

Ex- investment analyst after a 10 year career break

What do you do?

If you’re planning your return to work after a long career break, one of the hardest questions to answer can be “So, what do you do?”. You’re not sure whether to talk about your time at home or what you used to do all those years ago. When my children were small and most of the people I was meeting were other parents, I introduced myself more often as someone’s Mum than as Julianne. It’s not surprising that as our career break goes on, our independent working selves feel so far in the past that they’re not really part of our story any more (see previous post “Who am I anyway?”).

If your old professional life feels like distant history, then it’s harder to believe in yourself and feel positive about your return to work. This not only knocks your confidence but also makes your job search much less effective. Many women returning to work after a break find a new job through old and new contacts rather than through advertised roles, so you need to have a ready reply rather than a stumbled mumble when an ex-colleague asks “What are you doing now?” And when you do make it to an interview, if your response to the classic “Tell me about yourself” interview question is to spend the majority of the time describing and explaining your career break, you are underselling your past experience and are unlikely to come across as a credible candidate for the job.

The Career Break Sandwich

When you’re putting together your story, don’t start or end with your career break. We suggest you use a structure we call the “Career Break Sandwich”.

  • Talk first about what you did before in your working life – your career ‘headlines’ to establish your credibility.
  • Then talk about your career break. Explain simply why you’ve taken time out of the workplace, but avoid apologising for or justifying your break or spending too much time talking about what you’ve been doing. However do include any study, voluntary work, time spent abroad, unusual/challenging activities or anything else that might be interesting in terms of skills development or updating to a possible employer.
  • Finish with what you are looking to do now in your career and why.

Herminia Ibarra, in her career transition book Working Identity, suggests that a coherent story helps us to make sense of the changes we are making, so building our inner self-confidence. It also makes us more likely to get other people’s support: “Until we have a story, others view us as unfocused. It is harder to get their help“.

Aim to draw out links between your past and future, particularly if you have a varied work history or are planning a career change: Have you always enjoyed helping people develop? Or solving difficult problems in a team? You’re always bringing the benefit of your past experiences, at work and at home, as a foundation for what you want to do now.

Telling your story does take practice. Try out your narrative first with family and friends and get their feedback. Telling and retelling allows you to rework your story until you feel comfortable and convincing. Aim for a longer version to answer “Tell me about yourself” or “What are you looking for?” and a short version so you no longer hesitate when someone asks “So, what do you do?”

Posted by Julianne (updated from original post in 2013)

How to write your post-break CV

When you’re launching yourself back into the job market after a long career break, updating your CV can feel daunting. However, this is your chance to convince a prospective employer that you would be a good investment for their company and so it’s worth taking the time and effort to get it right. Bear in mind that employers can receive hundreds of CVs for every advertised job, so you need to make sure that yours stands out (for all the right reasons!)

Some returners think that a skills-based CV would be a good idea to try to ‘hide’ the career break. However, we wouldn’t advise this approach as we find that recruiters usually find it irritating to have to piece together your work history. It’s also worth noting that if you’re applying to a returner programmes, your application may be passed over if you cover up your career break.

We recommend sticking with a clear structure, such as this:

  • Heading: personal & contact details
  • Profile
  • Key skills (optional)
  • Career history
  • Education / training
  • Languages (if fluent)
  • Interests (optional)

Heading

  • Don’t use the heading “Curriculum Vitae”, as the sifting software typically used in recruitment these days may think that this is your name!
  • Instead put your name as the central heading, with your contact details (email/phone) underneath.
  • Don’t include a photo or your date of birth, age, gender, marital status or details about your children as these have become inappropriate on CVs following discrimination legislation.

Profile

  • Open with a profile statement, describing in 2-3 sentences the highlights from your background and qualifications, adapting this to the job opportunity as much as possible.
  • State you are returning to work after a career break.
  • If you are shifting sector/role, you can also state that you are looking for opportunities in [target sector]. Otherwise you don’t need an objective.

Key Skills (optional)

  • For each job application, tailor your skills to fit the requirements set out in the job description. Try to use their key criteria words, as the first CV screen may be performed automatically by keyword sifting software. It also means that the recruiter does not have to work as hard to understand why you would be right for the role.
  • Avoid a laundry list of generic skills (strong team player, highly-motivated, etc.) as this won’t impress anyone! Use specific skills such as strategic planning & implementation, procurement, digital media marketing, etc.
 

Career History

  • In this section, list your experience in reverse date order
  • For each job, give 3-5 bullet points for specific achievements and contributions, not just your responsibilities. Quantify achievements if possible.
  • If you have a long career history, it’s fine just to list early career role titles.
  • Include your “Career Break” as a section with dates. You can include a reason for your break (e.g. parental career break; career break for caring responsibilities) but you don’t have to.
  • Include any work you have done during your career break, including running a business (no matter how small!) and freelance projects. Also include any skilled volunteering roles you held during that time (e.g. School Governor, Charity Treasurer). A LinkedIn study from 2011 found that 41% of hiring managers consider volunteer work to be equally as valuable as paid work, so don’t hide this experience in a voluntary work section at the end.
 

Education / training

  • In addition to your highest-level qualifications, include any relevant training you have completed during your career break, even where this was a short and/or online course.
  • If you don’t have recent work experience, but your break has included significant further education or professional qualifications, you may like to put this section before your career history.
  • There is no need to include your A-Levels, GCSEs (or O-levels) or school (unless specifically requested to do so)
 

Interests

  • Don’t list bland interests (e.g. reading, cinema, etc.). Only include those that are relevant, unusual or impressive (e.g. society memberships, triathlons, etc.), otherwise there’s no need to include an interests section at all.
 

Final words of advice

  • Appearance: Use font size 10-12 and write in the third person with no pronouns, for example: “Reduced the month-end accounting timetable by 3 days”.
  • Length: Keep your CV to 2 sides and aim for about 1,000 words. This means you need to include only the most important pieces of information, so prioritise and leave the rest out.
  • Format: Make sure the CV looks good on the page and that the formatting is perfect. When emailing your CV, it is best practice to send it as a pdf to avoid any ‘format jumps’ that can result from viewing an editable document (such as a Word document) on a different device.
  • References: It’s no longer necessary to give details of references or to say “references available on request”, so leave this out.
  • Grammar / spelling: Check that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes and that you have been consistent in tense with all your verbs. When you are happy, ask a friend to look over it for you with a fresh pair of eyes for any errors you may have missed.

Once you’ve perfected your CV, it’s time to think about your cover letter. Read our how-to guide to get started!

For further advice and support in your return-to-work journey, you can sign up to our free network here

 
 
Note: Original post from 2014; updated in May 2018