- Joanna Clarke
Finalising your “perfect CV” or worrying about your social media profile can be a real barrier to applying for roles after you have taken a career break.
The good news is that your CV doesn’t have to be perfect; it needs to be an authentic representation of all you would bring to the role – and that includes the valuable skills you have obtained during your time out of the workplace – with the perspective that brings.
As a co-lead on the EY Reconnect programme, with 15 years’ recruitment and career coaching experience, I share my advice to make your CV stand out after you have taken a career break.
- Tailor your CV: A good application makes clear where & how your experience is relevant. Use the job spec and company research to clearly demonstrate where you add value. Following a career break, make a link between the budgeting, project management or delegation you have become an expert in and why this adds value to a company that truly values diverse talent.
- Personal Statement or Profile: Include four or five sentences to introduce who you are and summarise your core skills, experience and qualifications from your professional career, plus activities during your career break. Think of this as your elevator pitch to the employer and let them know why they would want to hire you.
- Be wary of getting the basics wrong: Bad grammar, spelling or a poor visual layout can all stop your CV from making it past the first round screening. Two succinct, accurate & purposeful pages make the best impression.
- Education & qualifications: Be factual and specific about academic and professional qualifications. Never be tempted to embellish grades or courses studied, but equally don’t forget to include any learning you have done for your own self-development. Many individuals have taken up valuable study whilst on a career break, which shows energy and passion that employers find really appealing.
- The career break itself: A career break should be summarised and celebrated as such, and not disguised other ways. Clearly state the years and reasons for the break (for example “parental leave“) and don’t overlook any commitments or interests outside of corporate life. Our first EY Reconnect programme included individuals who had run charities, and chaired the PTA shows – which definitely show drive, commitment and plenty of tenacity!
- CV as part of a “job search toolkit”: Be wary of investing too much emotional energy in the CV itself – it is only one strand of your job search toolkit, which may include networking or updating professional study.
- Think of your CV as your transition plan: A CV is a marketing document to showcase the skills, ability and confidence that can really secure your next role. A strong CV will help you set goals or identify any skills gaps that you can address as you successfully cross the bridge back to work after a career break.
- LinkedIn & social media: The workplace may have changed during your career break & social media is often a real limiting belief for returners. You’ll simply need the training & insight from your colleagues & you’ll be in the professional social media world very quickly. EY Reconnect provides a brilliant training session as part of support & coaching available through the programme.