Back to Work
Learning a new skill if you want a career change is not as hard as you might think. You just need a winning CV, a concise covering letter and a good interview. Our guide will give you the low down on all the essentials.
Mastering the basics
This is your first point of contact with a prospective employer. First impressions count as the average employer spends 30 seconds looking at a CV.
What to do
• Use a businesslike typeface, such as Helvetica or Arial
• Start with a short summary of your key skills and experience
• List your jobs in reverse chronological order – start with your most recent position and work backwards
• Keep it brief – never more than two pages in length, one if possible
• Show it to your friends and family for their comments
• Read it thoroughly
• Make a photocopy then, following the instructions, practise laying out the information
• Make sure it’s easy to read before you fill in the original form
• Check for mistakes, spelling and grammar
• Make a copy of your completed form before you send it off
• Allow enough time for it to be delivered before the closing date
This should always be relevant to each individual application, so you’ll need to write a different one each time.
What to do
• Find out who to send it to – preferably not Dear Sir/Madam, but an actual name (and spell that name correctly!).
• Send a typewritten letter, unless you’re asked to handwrite it, on one side of good quality, white A4 paper
• Explain why you want the job, what you can offer, and end by saying you look forward to a meeting to discuss matters further.
First impressions always count, so make them work in your favour. Don’t spend loads on an outfit but aim to dress smartly.
What to do
• Wear a suit – it looks more businesslike than a cardigan and skirt
• Wear shoes with a modest heel – they will look professional
• Wear a smart handbag and polished shoes – it shows attention to detail
• Know where you’re going and allow enough time to get there
What not to do
• Don’t wear too much make-up or jewellery
Hours of work
It’s tricky to find a job that uses your skills, pays enough and allows time for children. 44% of all employed women work part-time and increasingly women returning to work want reduced hours.
The working options include
• Flexi-time – allows you to work an agreed number of hours over the week or month
• Part-time – anything that’s below the standard nine-to-five working week
• Job sharing – two people share the responsibilities of one full-time job
• Term-time – normally applies to education, but there are some companies that will allow you to take unpaid leave during school holiday
• Temporary covers – short-term contracts, seasonal and agency work
• Freelancing – self-employed basis, selling your services to a variety of employers, working either from home or at a company’s office