Regaining confidence after redundancy: ask the expert

I was made redundant from my General Operative job at a factory, where I have worked for over 10 years.  I’ve been a single mother looking after my children and have nothing to put on my cv  beside this job and little jobs I had in the 80s. How can I find a new job?

So you started your present job when your youngest child was around 8 and you held down that job successfully while single-handedly raising a young family.  The pressures and difficulties must have been huge and you deserve a pat on the back for what you’ve already achieved.

From the viewpoint of potential employers, your employment record means you’ve already got a lot going for you.  Your next employer knows you performed reasonably well – at the very least – in your last job (because you wouldn’t have been allowed to stay 10 years in the job if you hadn’t been a satisfactory employee).  They know you get on fairly well with people (if you’d been “difficult” with supervisors or colleagues, either you’d have walked off in a huff long ago or you’d have been encouraged to leave soon after starting).   Your employment record shows you’re prepared to stick at a job over the long term and can be relied on.

So what can you put in your CV (or Application Form) to help you get your next job?

Firstly, you need to think about what type of job you’re aiming for.  Will it be much the same type of work as you’re already doing?  If so, think about what a sensible employer needs to know about an applicant to decide whether he or she could do this particular job well.

Perhaps the job requires particular skills – manual dexterity and attention to detail, for example.  What evidence can you put forward to show that you’ve got these skills?  You might be able to say things like this about yourself, for example:  Won award as section’s most productive employee 3 years running, Picked by supervisor to teach new starters how to achieve target output and quality standards and so on.

Perhaps the job requires special technical knowledge – for example, how to operate and clean certain types of production machinery.  If so, say that you have X years experience operating and carrying out basic maintenance on these types of machines.

Perhaps people need certain qualifications to do the job well (Food Handling Certificates, for example).  If so, point out that you already hold these qualifications (so the employer won’t have to pay for your training!).

Perhaps the job requires more general skills – good timekeeping, willingness to work shifts, ability to use computers and deputise and so on.  You might be able to say that you’ve a 100% attendance record for the last 7 years and were picked to be acting supervisor for a 3 month period when your own boss was off ill, for example.

If you use a phrase such as “Extra skills, experience and knowledge developed earlier in my career include X,Y and Z”, then you can gain some credit for the work you did during the 80s.  You might have run a Quality Assurance Circle or worked as a First Aider, for example – if your new employer needs someone in these roles, it’s easier and cheaper to give you the updating training you’ll need to get back up to standard than to hunt for someone with no experience to take on these activities.

Keep yourself focused all the time on what a sensible employer would want to know about you, to decide whether you’d be a good applicant for the job. Don’t get too hung up about the headings to use on your CV – it doesn’t really matter whether you include a “profile” section or not.

Remember the importance of putting onto your CV your full contact details (your ‘phone number, mobile phone number, email address and ordinary address).  All things being equal, the candidate who’s easiest to contact is often the one who’s offered the interview and job.

Typically a CV for a General Operative job is only one page or two pages long.  Once you start getting all the job-relevant information down on paper, you may find yourself fretting about there being too little space, not too much!


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