I know the feeling. You really want to start working on your CV, but you keep putting it off as you don’t know where to begin! You haven’t had to compose a CV in years. You are even not too sure of the CV styles which work these days and how to remember your previous skills and experience history in any great detail? If you can, simply remove any fears and remember this is your sales pitch. You are selling yourself……
I do believe CV styles change over time, however, you can be sure that this market is an entirely different place than before. Employers behaviours towards hiring has shifted enormously during this economic downturn making the environment unfamiliar not just for returning parents but for all potential employees.
You have a good chance as any other person applying for the job you feel suits your experience/skills. Here is some guidance on how to make yours stand out!
In today’s world I firmly believe a “good attitude” is an essential quality. It’s not just all about a skill-set. Employer’s would rather hire the right mindset who is a doer over a toolkit of skills. You must be able to demonstrate “commitment”, “trustworthiness”, “adaptability”, “accountability”, “loyalty” and “honesty”.
I am not suggesting a set format for your CV but my top advice is to “keep it simple”. These are some key points to consider;
A personal profile/summary
This should be the opening paragraph and needs to be short and succinct statement at the top of your CV. Here it is all about you selling yourself with your skills, experience and personal qualities. Be positive! Use words like “adaptable”, “competent”, “tenacious”, “multi-task”…Make it interesting and set the scene….
Allmumkind tip – You could compose several different statements here to tailor towards each application. Use this an opportunity to highlight you are the best person for the job!!
Put your most recent jobs in chronological order so that employers can view your career to date – Title, Company and include dates. NO GAPS.
If you have been out of the workplace for several years then you need to clearly provide the dates since leaving employment. Don’t feel that you have to highlight in bold – FULL TIME MUM! This is your moment to demonstrate your non-employment years to your absolute advantage! As a mum you will have been building and gaining new skills without even realising. My advice is to use them!
Time-management, budgeting, multi-tasking, organisation skills, project planning, meeting deadlines, administration, computer skills, writing skills, fundraising, problem solving and not forgetting negotiating. You may have been performing a lot, if not many of these skills without even thinking about it! Have you helped organise a school fare? fundraised for your local school, club, charity? Do you offer your time voluntarily for different causes? Have you contributed your time/skills to an event which you took sole responsibility for a task? Have you completed a new course or learnt something new?
If you have helped out with school, baby groups, activity groups, community groups, small businesses, charities, committees etc– any voluntary work you must highlight. It all counts!
Organise your post employment experience/skills in clear order. Provide as many examples as possible how and where you achieved these.
Allmumkind tip - Take a step away from your CV and imagine you are actually the employer. Would you employ yourself for the job? Ask yourself some questions..
Key CV tips
- Simple format
- Profile is key. This is your opening paragraph highlighting your achievements, experience and skills. Remember you are selling yourself.
- Keep to around two pages, no more.
- Keep to clear bullet points – Paragraphs of rambling information can be boring!
- Before you start write lists of strengths, successes, achievements so that you can cross reference to.
- Write a constructive list of positive words to describe your experience eg “Leader”, “Negotiating”, “Time management” etc.
- Get a friend, ex colleague to critique your CV. You may not like the feedback but it could be the best feedback you receive!
- Finally, be confident!
I must admit I was lucky with the support from my boss when I went on maternity leave with my second baby. My bosses were equally very lucky as I meticulously handed over a smooth running operation with full instructions. Famous last words as I waddled out of the office “You can call me whenever…..Not a problem”
I always had a very open and trusting relationship with my superiors. Especially with the career I was in, I could work flexibly, hold down a senior position and enjoyed a very good level of success across the company. It was a two way street which worked.
I knew that my bosses were nervous when I announced my pregnancy, but provided support and together we planned well ahead for my maternity leave, conducted extra training and I was heavily involved right up to the minute I left. I was even emailing, replying to Blackberry messages, offering guidance after my daughter was born. I even attended a meeting just 2 months after she was born. It was what I thought I should and had to do to sustain my senior position. I suppose deep down I thought I would drift away if I didn’t keep involved. It was very stressful and part of me does regret being so consumed during the first few months of my baby’s life but I was going back quite soon and I had to be on top of my career.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. I look back now and I should have completely switched off and taken my full maternity leave and just let it be. I was worrying about nothing and creating unnecessary stress. I can confidently say this as I left 6 months after I retuned from maternity leave. The whole company changed during that year with a big help from the recession and many of the decisions taken I couldn’t change anyway. Lesson learned. With or without me it was never going to be the same.
So my advice is just embrace your maternity leave and be savvy enough to keep an ear open from your workplace with business updates, politics, colleagues and anything else to keep you up to date. If you can switch off and don’t waste any special moments then do it. What will be will be. You will never get the time back.
The whole purpose of launching allmumkind presented itself to me when I changed course and stepped away. So, as you can see, you never know what’s around the corner and for me I am the happiest I have been. The guilt of wasting some precious moments does surface, but I look where I am now and my guilt lessens as I am with my children more than if I had stayed put.
Extended Paternity leave will come into effect from April 3rd 2011. This means that under the new rules, father’s can take up to 26 weeks paternity leave. Great idea, but will your husband/partner be taking advantage of this flexible benefit?
A generous contribution from the Government and a modern approach in identifying “hands on daddies”, but I think for some families it is simply not a reality.
A recent study carried out by uSwitch.com found 26% of fathers felt that, by taking advantage of such a benefit would be detrimental to their career’s. 16% were fearful about losing their jobs.
With the pressure of increased responsibility and workload, over half the fathers questioned simply couldn’t afford to take the time off. Financial constraints was a major factor and this would hinder nearly half of the men questioned. Some men taking part in the survey, went as far to say that they wouldn’t be happy to cover the workload for father’s taking this length of paternity leave. Money concerns seemed to be a recurring theme, however on a positive note, in general, many men embraced such a benefit.
During a time of economic uncertainty along with financial fears, unfortunately these factors will prevent many father’s from being the “hands on” parent they would want to be.
I think it is a real plus supporting new father’s, but until there is an increased shift towards flexible work patterns and perhaps some improvement on certain stigma’s attached to such parental rights within society, then I am not sure families will embrace such an opportunity nor have the choice to.