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CV writing tips for the 40+
The Profile Paragraph
Do not flag up health or disability issues. Do not put anything on your CV that the an employer can use to discriminate against you by de-selection from the interview stage in the paper sift. You want to sell yourself. Do not make your CV make you look like the ‘grey man’ bland and oblivious. You need it to stand out in a professional manner.
You need your CV to help you get beyond the paper sift bar to the interview stage. It is a like a high jump. You need your CV to get you over that bar to the next stage and ultimately that job. You will fail to get through the paper sift if your CV is badly presented. In the body of your text do not underline, type in capitals or use bold. Just use bold for headings. You need to make your CV easy to read. Use Ariel font in size 10 or 12. Check that your computer’s spell check is not set to the US dictionary. Never rely on the computer’s spell check. Always ask someone else to proof read your letter of introduction and CV for grammar and spelling errors. Using ‘text’ speak and abbreviations is not a good idea.
Do not use cheap standard photocopier 80g paper. Buy white or ivory 100g paper. I gives a better impression. Do not use scented or coloured paper. Make sure the envelope is A4 and the same colour. Never fold a CV. Do not staple your CV together use a paperclip. This is to stop it getting damages when it is scanned or photocopied. Add your name and contact details in the footer of page two. (it is already on the letter of introduction and page one of the CV.)
Put your employment record in reveres chronological order. Make your content concise and succinct. Think about presentation. Keep negatives out of your narrative, be positive. Don’t put anything in your CV that you cannot evidence. Make sure your CV is tailored to the particular job application you are submitting. Do not just send a generic CV. Your CV will suffer if it has insufficient relevant information or there is too much.
Beware that employers will check the internet and may find photographs of you doing stupid things you would not like them to see. Be careful of what comments you post on social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter. They may be detrimental to your ability to get a job.
Never put your age or date of birth on a CV. It is illegal to be asked for this information although companies get around this by asking you to complete ‘monitoring forms’. Do not add a photo. It does not add value and could be another reason your CV is paper sifted.
Do not think you can only have one CV. Each job application will require a different CV that matches the criteria of that job. It must be tailored to suit the requirements. It may mean that you only have to change the hierarchy of your competencies, skills and strengths. You can use cut, copy and paste on the computer to do
Think about spelling, punctuation and grammar. Recruiters looking for a person to fill a vacant admin job de-selected an applicant because they submitted a CV on which they said that one of their strengths was high attention to detail when there were spelling mistakes.
Recruiters have a check list of competencies required for the advertised vacancy. They will very quickly scan through your CV and tick them off your skills to see if you meet the grade.
If you are retired never use that word ‘retired’. Use the phrase ‘I have completed my 30 year contract with the London Fire Brigade.’ Do not mention that you have a pension. If you have no money worries then what is your commitment and drive for the job. Think about how you can describe your current job in different terminology - Team leading manager, senior manager, large public sector organisation not London Fire Brigade Station Officer
Do not use the phrase ‘work experience’ for obvious reasons. You are not at school now. Use strong action words and bullet points. Evidence achievements, how carried out and the result.
Do imagine yourself as a product. What are your features and benefits Be objective in your profile. Don’t say ‘I planned and implemented ….’ instead just use ‘planned and implemented ….’ and phrases like ‘built relationships with stakeholders’
Don’t be arrogant and put lines in like I have done this I have done that as the recruiter could turn around and say yes but you are now unemployed.
Once you have read the advert phone the company. Do not ask what the wages are at this stage. This may be part of the de-selection process so prepare. This may be an interview on the phone. Ask ‘what else can you tell me about the job’. Use open ended question. Ask if the job is still open. Be prepared to deal with an answer phone and give information ( don’t mention the word retired) You can also ask what format the interview will be.
When choosing a new career you have to be realistic. Will you fit. Are you over qualified for that job at Tescos. If you go for a less stressful job the recruiter may look at your past experience and qualifications and think you may cause problems as you would try to organise and change things when all they want is an admin clerk or shelf stacker. They do not want employees who will try to find solutions to observed problems or try to increase efficiency. Your CV will be deselected in the paper sift.
Don’t expect to write evidence straight into your CV. Jot down notes. Then rewrite and rewrite to get it precise. Cut out the waffle. Make sure a third person would be able to read and understand what you have written.
When you are writing your examples try to do it in this order. Set the scene first and show what the challenge was: I had to do this. Then state what action you had to undertake; I did this to do that. Explain how did you do that. Then show the result; I benefited that company as I obtained this result. The result needs to be measurable. The employer wants to know how effective you were.
Avoid jargon and acronyms as the recruiter and employer may not understand them. The skill of writing a CV is trying to get people to engage with you. When reading your CV if the come across a term they do not understand will stop their flow of reading.
Here is an example of a profile paragraph
Skills bullet points
Qualification and Training
Sage Accounting Systems
Hobbies and Interests
Cycling, recently completed the London to Brighton ride and raised £2000 for charity
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