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Advice on how to write a good CV template for the British job market

CV writing tips for the 40+
Advice on how to write a good CV for the British job market
How to write an effective CV

The Profile Paragraph
As I have already stated the profile should only be one hard hitting paragraph that summarises your skills and strengths that are relevant to the job you are applying to. Remember this may be the only part of your CV that is read by the employer. Do not use first person terminology. Do not use phrases that start ‘I did’, ‘I am’ or ‘I have’. Never use two words in a CV when one would do. If you exaggerate a skilled interviewer will find you out through the use of probing questions.

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.

CV writing skills for the over 40's. How to write an effective CV


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
Administrator with experience and skills in data input, accounting software including sage, Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Maintains high standard of customer service. Accustomed to planning meetings, making travel arrangements, decision making, meeting tight deadlines and handling confidential information. Always enthusiastic to learn and undertake new challenges.

Skills bullet points
Again do not use phrases that start ‘I did’, ‘I am’ or ‘I have’. Have a look at how these bullet point examples have been written and construct similar ones to fit your skills

  • Improved e-mail system for field staff resulting in faster communication and quicker responses which benefited both staff and customers

  • Content manager for department’s intranet page which helped inter-departmental communication

  • Trained clerical staff in accounting software saving outside training expenses

  • Prepared all written correspondence, invoices and administrative reports for regional manager

  • Typed all invoices and produced daily balance sheets

  • Liaised with dispatch department and logged all customer records

  • Tracked budget and preparing quarterly reports

  • Dealt with all business in a confidential and professional manner

  • Maintained and updated records, both manual and computer

  • Responded to customer queries in a an efficient, diplomatic and friendly manner

  • Recorded and filled employee benefit, salary and annual evaluation information

  • Assisted with payroll preparation and date entry

  • Managed delivery of confidential information

  • Filed, photocopied, sorted mail and other general office duties

  • Scheduled monthly meetings and handling travel arrangements for department managers.

Qualification and Training
You may have lots of different qualifications but not all of them are going to be relevant to the job you are applying for. Think carefully about including your school qualifications. Does this employer really want to know about exams you took over 23 years ago?  If you have a degree don’t put down you’re A levels and O levels. If your education finished at O levels at you age this will not add value to your CV. Someone reading your CV may not know what an ‘O’ level is. You can use ‘education up to ‘A’ level Standard’ as ‘A’ levels are still taken at school, but type it near the bottom of page two on your CV. Only include qualifications if they are currently up to date; for example do not include a first aid examination certificate if it has expired. Do not list your primary or secondary schools, it has no relevance. Do not include management courses 20 years old as they are out of date.

Sage Accounting Systems
European Computer Driving Licence
St Johns Ambulance First Aid at Work
RSA l& 2
Book keeping
Full Clean Driving Licence

Hobbies and Interests
Does it add value. Is it relevant. Be aware that this could used to discriminate against you i.e. shooting with dogs or Morris dancing does not go down well. If the job you are applying for involves meeting and speaking to people do not list hobbies such as model making, knitting, fishing which you do on your own. Be careful what you enter under this section. You have to guard against other peoples perceptions and worries. If you put down you regularly play football or rugby it might deter an employer from hiring you. You may think that it shows you in a good light, a team player, someone who looks after their health by playing sport. An employer may consider you a sickness risk because of injuries you may incur. A broken leg could mean you would be off work on full pay for six weeks.

Cycling, recently completed the London to Brighton ride and raised £2000 for charity
Currently studying conversational French

Personal Details
Do not include these details as they could be the reason for your application being disregarded and your failure to get to the interview stage. If you say you are single an employer could think why? Is there something wrong with your personality or conclude that you are homosexual. They may be homophobic. If you say you have children


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