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Reignite your career 3: Make your CV sing

A back-to-work CV, aka resume, highlights your experience and skills and — in my opinion — doesn’t try to hide time away from the workforce. Here is how to write it.

This post is part of the Noon Masterclass: Reignite Your Career by Noon’s Career Expert, Lisa Unwin. 

Go to Part 1: Dump your excuses

Go to Part 2: Think like a chess master

How to write a back-to-work CV

Whatever else has changed about the job market, some things remain a constant. You’re probably going to need a CV that stands outMany recruiters and executive search firms have examples and templates for creating CVs on their sites. Whatever template you choose, here are some broad guidelines to help get your CV through to that all-important interview.

Length

No more than two pages. No arguments here, no one is going to read more than two pages. And making the font really tiny is not an option.  

Style

Write it in the third person and avoid all pronouns. Firstly, it avoids you using the word ‘I’ every other line and it’s easier to boast about yourself when it reads as though someone else is saying it. Women are notoriously bad at boasting about themselves  

Personal details

Name, contact details, phone, address, email address. You would be amazed at the number of CVs that don’t have details of how to contact the candidate. Do NOT include your date of birth or a photo or your marital status. They are not relevant to modern CVs. Include a hyperlink (rather than a long list of words and numbers) to your website if you have one – and LinkedIn profile.  

Executive summary/personal statement

A concise, memorable synopsis of you, summarising why you should be hired. It should be tailored for each job you apply for. It will take time to write, needs to sum up who you are, what you’re offering and what you’re looking for. Unless it’s wildly inaccurate, think about giving yourself the title of the job you’re applying for.  

Key skills

Before you describe your detailed work experience, provide a summary of your key skills. The question is, which ones and how many? In terms of how many, obviously it’s a judgement call, but if you’re listing more than 25 then it’s hard to claim they are all ‘key’ skills. What sort of skills will thebe looking for Be specific and don’t waste space with skills that are too basic or generic. 

Work experience

Do not simply list your responsibilities. It’s boring and being responsible for something doesn’t necessarily mean you made anything happen. List your experience chronologically but be aware of the need to showcase the most relevant to the vacancy. Bring your experience to life. Make it interesting. For each role, tell the story of what you were hired to do and how you added value. Focus on achievements and outcomes. Include innovations or new ideas that you introduced and the impact they had. 

Education and qualifications

You’ll also need to include details of your education, qualifications, language skills and any other information that’s relevant to the role.  

Hobbies

Adding a section on ‘hobbies and interests’ makes it a bit more personal and gives you character but do take a little care with this. Apparently ‘socialising with friends’ is a pet hate for a third of recruiters. 

How to write a covering letter

The covering letter, or cover letter, is about your MOTIVATION for doing that job. Do not repeat all the information in your CV. Open with an introduction explaining the job you’re applying for and attaching your CV.

There then needs to be three paragraphs

  1. Why you are the perfect candidate
  2. A summary of the unique skills and experience you offer.
  3. Why you’re excited about working for the company.

If there is one thing that can clinch the deal (above all else), it’s passion – employers hire individuals that love their job. So don’t be afraid of showing your enthusiasm.

— Lisa Unwin

Lisa Unwin, a partner at Inclusivity, is Noon’s Careers Expert.

Go to Part 4: How to explain a career break

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Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 1: Dump your excuses, write your pitch

Get rid of the things holding you back and learn how you can package yourself to land your next job

Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 2: Think like a chess master

Plotting your career requires more than reacting. Here’s how to think strategically

Picture: Getty Images

Reignite your career 3: Make your CV sing

A back-to-work CV, aka resume, highlights your experience and skills and — in my opinion — doesn’t try to hide time away from the workforce. Here is how to write it.

More Careers advice
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