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CV preparation

Section image for Finding work - workman standing on a question mark shadow

CVs continue to be an important part of your 50+ customer’s approach to finding a job despite the increased use of application forms for nearly all public and voluntary sector jobs and online applications for jobs with many larger private sector employers.

CVs are particularly useful when approaching SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises employing fewer than 250 people).

As you will be encouraging your 50+ customer to look carefully at this group of SMEs, they will need an effective CV to support their job search.

Agencies will say they prefer a chronological CV with detailed information covering the last 10 years. However, you will probably be guiding your customer towards a CV that is skills and experience based, as this will highlight what they are selling.

But how completely should your 50+ customers hide their age; what should they do about their possible lack of formal qualifications; and what should do they do if the job(s) that they have been doing for the past 10 years are largely irrelevant because they have to, or want to change careers?

It is important to establish first what your 50+ customers are selling themselves as: what would be the job title on the perfect job advert? That job needs to be:

  • something they want to do (or at least are happy to do)
  • something that they broadly have the skills and experience to do
  • something that they can sensibly market themselves into. This last may be the hardest because there are so many jobs now that have a ‘barrier’ qualification (often a specific degree) that the applicant must have.

Once your customer can answer those three questions positively, the CV becomes simpler, and importantly shorter. Miss out the detail that is irrelevant, exclude date of birth and dates of qualifications, and make the CV one that shouts their relevance for the job. But make sure any claims made about skills and experience can be backed up by evidence.

Then design a CV in the best format for the role your customer is seeking. Here are two versions that give a flavour of different approaches.

Gareth had been a wireman for most of his working life. But the need for wiremen has largely disappeared and he was finding it impossible to get a job as one. So after a couple of years doing any temp work he could find, he decided to become a van or small lorry driver, as he had also spent his life driving, and obtained a Class 2 driving licence. His first CV  made him look like a wireman who had been drifting for two years and didn't help him sell himself.  He then improved his CV to highlight his driving skills..

CV highlighting skills


2 Feltham Road
Reading RG51 4GS

Tel: 01189 708968
Mob: 07771 450099
email: gareth.someone@yahoo.com

An experienced Van and Lorry Driver, with a Class 2 licence, who has been driving for more than 20 years, and who has a background as a BT maintenance engineer.


  • Obtained Class 2 Driving Licence in 2007.
  • Have driven 7½ tonners, Transits and cars commercially since 1988.
  • Working for Direct Vans delivered parcels within the Thames Valley.
  • Working for AutoHave, delivered repaired cars back to customers. Picked up courtesy cars.
  • For BT and Holyoak, drove a Transit Van for over 19 years while maintaining and repairing the telephone network, within the United Kingdom and Eire.


2005 – Now Short-term contracts through Direct Vans and Camelot Recruitment
1998 – 2005 Holyoak Total Network Solutions, Faultman / Jointer
1982 – 1998 British Telecom, Telephone Engineer
1978 – 1982 Acumen, Engineer
1976 – 1978 PZH, Wireman


Education: Fingals Cave School 2 ‘O’ levels

References available on request.

Victor wanted to get out of being a one-man market researcher (successful) and get back into employment as he missed working in a team. But he knew he would not get employment as a market researcher, so wanted to point up his well-developed administration skills. This boxed CV stops readers just reading it chronologically and allowed Victor to sell himself in a couple of paragraphs.

This example of a good practice CV, provided by The Plus Team, includes helpful tips and areas to focus on.

This site is for help and information only. It is not meant as an authoritative guide. It is not meant as an authoritative statement of the law, and future changes in the law and other programmes and initiatives could make it less accurate at times. TAEN, the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund take no responsibility for your use of the information. You should always take professional advice on any specific legal or financial matter.