Updated: Feb 6, 2020
We all know that the era of a job for life is long gone. In fact it probably left just as we entered the job market 30 plus years ago. Once upon a time a man over 50, could if he was lucky, cruise into retirement. In todays fast changing job market for many of us over 50 that is just a pleasant day dream.
More and more men like us, 50 plus (whether it’s because they’ve reached a point where they just want a change; or because the job they have had, has disappeared) find themselves on the job market asking the following questions:
How do you get that new job?
How do you change direction?
The answer to both these questions can, at least, in part be found your in curriculum Vitae (CV). It is your calling card to the world.
Whether as a free standing document you’re going to send out to potential employers or as part of your online profile (on LinkedIn perhaps) your CV in the words of a friend of mine who has worked in HR for over 30 years is "your time to shine".
Now if you haven’t had to put a CV together for a while or if you’re finding that your CV is not having the impact you had hoped set out below you'll find some of my HR friend (who would like to be known as the Blu) top tips for CV writing for those of us who are 50plus.
The Blu says:
Firstly, I know that writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) can be initially daunting – especially when it’s been many years since you last had to write one. I suggest you set aside some private time, get out your old job descriptions as an aide memoire, and give this task your full attention.
Your CV is likely to be the first encounter you have with a future employer – it’s a way to market yourself and get them salivating at the prospect of meeting you!
Like many of us, at this phase of your working life you are likely to have substantial experience. I know this is counter intuitive but when writing a CV less is more. So when it comes to listing that experience in your CV focus and relevance should be your watch words.
1. Don’t allow recruiters to work out your age!
Don’t include your date of birth.
Don’t include any dates regarding going to school or university attaining training or qualifications.
Only include the last 10 to 15 years of your employment history.
2. Use the job/ person specification to tailor the information in your CV for each application.
Prioritise your tasks / achievements so that the ones that reflect what’s in the job/ person specification (or advert if you haven’t got a spec) are prominent.
Larger employers are moving more and more to using IT recruitment systems to identify key words (e.g. from the specification) in your CV as a supposedly impartial way of selecting candidates for interview.
For senior management roles it’s important to also quantify your achievements for example how much you saved in costs, percentage efficiency gains, income generated, project budget etc.
For other roles alongside your duties also include any service level agreements and other targets you have to work to e.g. processed customer orders within 24 hours.
3. Keep it simple
Recruiters prefer CVs in chronological order, starting with the most recent employment information first. If like me you have had periods of unemployment it’s best to do something with that time in addition to your job search and include this in your CV e.g. caring responsibilities, refurbished house, studied interior design, voluntary work helping the homeless and as a last resort if it is necessary – write searching for a suitable role (I didn’t write unemployed as it sounds negative to me). Ideally keep your CV to 2 to 3 pages.
Write in plain English – don’t use jargon and use space well (i.e. don’t overcrowd the page)
Only include your home address location if it is within one hour commute of the advertised position. Include your personal mobile number and personal email address (best to have a business sounding email address).
Ask someone to give you feedback on your CV
Can they spot any errors?
Do they understand what you’ve written?
Show them the job /person specification – have you marketed yourself well given what the recruiter is looking for?
Is the CV layout easy to follow?
There are lots of websites offering comprehensive expert advice on how to write CVs with example templates of CVs too. You can find these by searching for CV writing tips.
Alternatively if you have the funds there are professional CV writers who will write your CV but for a fee of course.
You can use my practical pointers alongside the expert advice or as a helpful final checklist .
Remember there are many ways to get your CV out to prospective employers including by directly applying for advertised jobs and by uploading your CV onto recruitment sites e.g. LinkedIn, Reed, and CV Library so that recruiters can approach you.
Finally, remember you have so much to offer – market yourself well and you can get to the next stage and claim that new opportunity!