Q And A
Help, I've been a full-time mum for 20 years: ask the expert
Help! I have been a full time Mum for 20 years, previously working as a Legal Secretary. How can I get a job and make my CV look good??!
Answer by Linda Whittern
First, put together a list of the skills and qualifications you have which would be useful to an employer. If you’ve kept up your office skills and developed new skills in IT, put these on the list. Also think about all the skills you've developed as a full-time Mum. You’ll know a lot about parenting, the development of children from babyhood to adolescence, living in a relationship and so on. You may have done voluntary work (eg run a playgroup or campaigned on local issues) or practised hobbies (eg line dancing, first aid, etc) during this time, providing you with experience that could be useful in a work context. Include your general life skills (eg ability to drive, spell correctly and deal with very different groups of people.
When you've put together this list, think about the job possibilities your skills and qualifications suggest. Think about the categories of employers that offer job vacancies of the type you're interested in. Then start to use your own contacts (friends, family, neighbours and so on) to find out about local vacancies, recruitment consultancies they'd recommend and(preferably free) skills updating courses.
You’ll need a “functional” CV, not a “chronological one (search on the web to find out about the differences in CV format). A “functional” CV will help you sell more effectively the skills and qualifications you have that of interest to potential employers. You’ll need to think hard how to sell to employers the skills you’ve built up in a non-work context.
When you start applying for jobs, try to apply to employers directly rather than going through recruitment agencies. Given a choice between equally good candidates, many employers prefer to interview those who apply directly to them as doing so means they don’t incur recruitment agency fees. Employers’ websites often include a page on job vacancies so it’ll be worth your while to monitor them on a regular basis.
Linda Whittern is Director of Careers Partnership (UK), a careers consultancy for women and men at all stages of their careers.