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CV tips for mature students and career changers

Personal profile

The personal profile gives the reader a summary of you – a taste of your personality, and what you want to achieve. It can also profile particular skills, qualities and strengths, as well as past achievements.

It is important that it is personalised for each application that you make by tailoring what you showcase in the paragraph job specification and the ethos of the company.

Although the personal profile is considered optional on a CV it is ideal for career changers as it demonstrates skills and qualities gained from your last job that are transferable to the career area you are looking for. It can also provide a summary of why you are changing careers.

The profile should be a minimum of 50 to 200 words in length. Try to write it in the third person. Keep to the point and don’t be generic.

Break it into 3 sections:

  • Who you are
  • What you can offer the employer
  • Your career aim

Your education

If you’re moving into a new career, think about what you can do to make your education as relevant as possible:

  • List modules of your degree which are directly relevant to the job for which you are applying and give % if you were successful in that module.
  • Show how your education equates to current qualifications (e.g. O levels = GCSE).
  • Include professional qualifications and CPD from previous jobs as this shows commitment to your career and how you have developed professionally.
  • If most of your educational qualifications are from over 10 years ago then keep it brief and only give the number of GCSE/A levels passed and mention subjects such as English, Maths and Science if the employer specifically requires them.

Work history and volunteering

When writing about your work history, think about these points:

  • Summarise skills and strengths gained from previous employment particularly if they are generic jobs (for example, admin jobs from more than 10 years ago).
  • Highlight skills gained from career breaks, such as bringing up a family or caring for relatives.
  • Training and other professional development from previous careers demonstrates a willingness to learn new skills, so include it on your CV.
  • If you lack direct experience, try creating a skills-based CV.
  • Always use positive language to describe voluntary and life experiences, however ‘menial’ you think they might be.
  • Use a covering letter or the personal profile to explain gaps in employment – and don’t be apologetic about them.
  • Not all of your employment experience will be relevant to the job you are applying for – choose the most relevant and those which demonstrate specific skills and qualities to record on your CV.

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