You’ve seen some great jobs you’d like to apply for but you have that gap in employment from taking time out to bring up your baby. While this shouldn’t go against you, it is the unfortunate truth that gaps in your employment history may not be viewed favourably.
Don’t panic. You may have taken some very legitimate time out but this doesn’t have to be the focus of your CV. Before that, you had a great career where you developed a huge amount of skills and experience and let’s face it, bringing up a child throws up a whole set of new skills you never even knew you had. THESE are what you need to focus on and you can do this with a skills based CV.
A skills based CV turns the traditional chronological structure of most recent job first on its head and starts off by outlining your main skills and experience that are most relevant to the role you’re applying for. Instead of relying on recruiters to pick out or make assumptions about your skills from your employment history, you are hitting them with it at the beginning. This means your CV can be extremely customized to the role you’re applying for.
Follow this section by section guide to building a skills based CV that will get you noticed for all the right reasons, rather than for a lack of recent employment.
This is a short paragraph to introduce yourself, to outline your most impressive credentials and to let employers know what you’re looking for. It should be tailored to each individual role that you’re interested in and needs to really grab an employer’s attention so that they read on.
This is your most important section. Don’t hold back. Make a list of all the main skills associated with the job on offer and think about how you can evidence these skills. It’s not enough to just say you have them, you need to go back through all your work history, volunteering and personal experiences and back each one up with a very specific example. You need to demonstrate to an employer that you have all the necessary skills even if they were gained through a number of experiences or are not recent examples.
By the time an employer reaches this section, hopefully your skills section will have impressed them so much they won’t be concerned with a break in employment. Detail your previous employment in reverse chronological order, paying attention to skills and achievements as well as duties and responsibilities.
This section can come before your employment section if you prefer. It’s all about putting your strongest qualities first so whichever works best for you. Your education should be listed in reverse chronological order like your employment section.
Interests and Achievements
This is an optional section but it’s always useful for injecting some personality into your CV. Employers want to get an overall impression of you and how you might fit into their organisation.
You need two references. If you can get one from your most recent employer, so much the better.
Editor’s note: For US resumes, references are generally not included as part of the resume, but are only given upon request at the job interview.