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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Improving your CV after 50

Updating your CV (curriculum vitae) when you've been working or out of work for a long time may feel daunting. Find out how to write a successful CV and make a good first impression on potential employers.

Creating a new CV

Use your CV to make the most of yourself and your achievements. It is often the first contact you will have with an employer.

Essentials

What can't be left out?

  • name, address, telephone numbers and email address (make sure these are up to date)
  • key skills – no more than six – and consider including skills relevant to a new job
  • career to date - work experience or employment history and dates
  • education or qualifications

What can be left out?

  • date of birth – although some employers may require this information at some stage in your application
  • personal details – consider whether it is necessary to add reference to your children or marital status
  • interests - only include interests that are appropriate to your job application or indicate that you have relevant, transferable skills
  • references on request – an employer will contact you for details of your referees if they are interested in employing you

Updating your existing CV

If you are over 50 you may have had a lot of different roles, but you can't include everything. Aim for one or two pages and edit down so as to prioritise your most recent and relevant details.

Only include the highlights - there is no need to give all the steps on your career ladder. You can save space by compressing earlier roles into short descriptions or just including job titles.

It is very important to tailor your skills, qualities and achievements to the job for which you are applying. Look at the job requirements and try to focus your CV to match the requirements where possible and then give examples to reflect this.

The basics

Here are some basic 'dos' and 'don'ts' that will help you create a good and professional impression.

Do

  • type your CV on good-quality, white A4 paper, in a clear font
  • put your name at the top of the page – not curriculum vitae or CV
  • put all personal and contact details at the top
  • start with your most recent experience
  • keep the content clear and concise
  • use positive language
  • take care how you lay out and present the information, making it easy to read and understand
  • aim for one to two pages
  • if you go to two pages – which you may have to do if you have years of experience – make sure that it's evenly spread, not bunched up into a page and a half
  • prepare an initial draft then edit it down
  • ask someone else to proofread it for you when you've finished

Don't

  • include your salary on your CV – and always assume that salary is negotiable
  • give the impression of changing jobs frequently
  • allow spelling and typing errors to creep in
  • overuse 'I', the first-person singular, or the past tense
  • include irrelevant information

Timing and dates

Avoid time gaps – even if you weren't in paid employment refer to voluntary work or experiences that added to your skills set.

Don't apologise for employment mistakes, like periods of self-employment or running your own business that didn't work out.

Covering letter

It's courteous and professional to enclose a covering letter with your CV, giving the job reference and repeating your contact details.

While your CV gives the facts about your employment, the covering letter might explain why you are right for the job. You must try to give the prospective employer a reason to want to read your CV.

But it's best to keep it short. Use no more than three or four paragraphs and only one side of A4.

How to be positive about your age

It's not necessary to provide details of your age on your CV. Instead you should promote your experience through achievement, not time.

Keep your CV up to date and revise it for each job application.

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