Over 50 – Here’s how to do your CV
Writing a CV is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself to prospective employers by highlighting your years of professional and life experience. By now you’ll likely know your professional self pretty well which should make identifying your strengths much easier. But how can you do this without looking over qualified, too experienced or giving away your age? Here are some tips:
Write a strong personal statement
Start your CV with a personal statement and summary about your professional experience. This snippet should give employers a little insight into what you are like, your professional background, your aspirations and your skills. Its important that you get this right as its often the first thing an employer reads and can even be the only thing, try to keep your professional statement short and sweet but interesting and readable.
Prioritise your skills and experience
Future employers are going to want information about your work history, starting with your current or most recent role. Include your job title, your employers name, your dates of employment and bullet points outlining your main duties and responsibilities. Continue listing other relevant work experience in chronological order going back no more than ten years. I know at 50+ you are going to have a lot more experience than ten years but why give away your age unless you have to? Anyway no-one is interested in what you were doing 25 years ago.
Stand out from the crowd
Employers receive hundreds of CVs and many use the same cliches such as “I work hard”, “I work independently” and “I am proactive”. Generally speaking most employees will say they have qualities – it’s your unique qualities that will set you apart. Tell employers what you’ve done that others may not. Mention specific achievements in past roles and give clear examples. A cover letter to accompany your CV is also a must if you really want to make a lasting impression.
Keep your CV professional
Your CV needs to grab future employers attention and huge blocks of text will be off-putting, definitely use bullet points, employers will be sifting through hundreds of CVs so the easier yours is to read, the better. Keep your CV classy and professional by sticking to white paper and black ink. By using other colours on your CV you risk making it difficult for prospective employers to read. Also avoid using backgrounds, borders or fancy fonts because this can be distracting.
Highlight your IT skills
When writing a CV when you are over 50 you should aim to reassure employers that you can work with technology and understand its value. You should name specific software you’ve used, explain what you’ve used it for and highlight recent or future training to show you’re a keen learner. Technology is constantly evolving and things become outdated quickly, so do your research to ensure that the skills and software listed on your CV are still relevant. You don’t want to look like an old fuddy duddy.
Speak through your words
Your CV should radiate confidence and energy. The use of action words i.e.: achieved, participated, accomplished can help to emphasise productivity and bring your CV to life. When talking about yourself also use the first person. Using the word ‘I’ means your are connecting with future employers on a personal level. The only person who refers to themselves in the third person is the King of England so don’t make this mistake!
Never give your age away
Age is nothing but a number and when it comes to your CV this couldn’t be more true. So there is no reason to include any information that gives away your age. Never put your date of birth, never say you went to a Comprehensive School – say High School, avoid saying GCE O Levels and CSE’s – bunch them together as GCSE’s and never go back more than 10 years on your CV. Give employers the chance to judge you on your skills, knowledge and experience – not the year you were born.
Have a professional email address
Employers will take you more seriously if you have a suitable worded email address on your CV, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. You should definitely avoid using an email address that gives away your age e.g. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You want to be judged on your skills and experience not on the fact that you are a grandmother and was a huge Beatles fan in the 60’s.
Photos are a no-go
Unless you’re applying for a modelling or acting job what you look like is irrelevant. Photos give employers additional information about you which frankly they don’t need i.e. age and ethnicity. Neither of these two things should be taken into account when judging the suitability of people for jobs. So never, never attach a photo, this is definitely a no-go.
Consider using a professional CV writer
If you feel lost trying to write a CV or if you’re short of time and need a fast-track route in creating a CV, then you might want to consider using a CV professional to write it for you. Don’t pay too much for this service and make sure you are happy with the result. Not everyone can write about themselves and sometimes it’s nice to get someone to do it for you.
Finally us oldies have a lot to offer in the workplace and never loose this thought. The most common problem over 50’s have is confidence and self belief. You are not being dishonest by masking your age on your CV, you are being fair on yourself, why should you be treated any differently just because you are mature? Believe in yourself and go for it.