Back to Work

By at home

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.


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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