Should I include unrelated self employed work in cv after a career break: ask the expert

I am returning to work after a career break.  During my break I set up my own business providing Bridal Hair & Make-up services.  Putting this in my CV kind of puts employers off as it’s not related to the corporate roles I am applying for.  Should I leave this out or keep it there so it shows that I have still been working and keeping my skills fresh even if it’s in a different field?

Curriculum Vitae (CV) on laptop


First, you need to think hard about the jobs for which you’re applying – you should be able to “translate” what you’ve been doing as a self-employed worker into experience and skills that are directly relevant to success in these vacancies.

Are you applying for a job that involves building good relationships with strangers / potential customers and / or with existing customers?  Tell the employer about your successes in building up a client base for your business and how you got most new business from referrals made by your initial clients.

The job involves working with figures and project management?  Tell them about your work producing your company’s accounts and your use of cash flow projections to set fees and plan your business’s survival / growth over the year.  Tell them about how you planned and organised  important marketing projects to win new clients and publicise your business for the least possible cost.

People getting back into the jobs market after a break usually need a skills-based, achievement-based CV rather than a chronological CV.  Skills-based CVs are great because you can tailor them very easily to each type of job that you apply for (eg if the job ad stresses staff management skills, then you tweak your CV so the first item on the skills list explains how effective you are as a team manager).  I suggest you mention your career history (dates, types of work done, employers worked for and period of self-employment) briefly on the second page of your CV, using the rest of the CV to convince the employer how good a fit you are for their job.

A word of warning – some recruitment agencies will want you to complete their standard candidate CV (almost always a chronological one that gives most “space” to your most recent job).  That type of CV may be very unhelpful to you and is likely to result in few offers of interviews.  Either insist the recruitment agency uses a CV format you’re happy with… or do your own networking/employer research to find yourself a suitable job. Good luck!


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