Back to Work

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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

The CV

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

Application form

•    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

Covering letter

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.

Interview

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

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