When I first left school I learned about the importance of writing a good Curriculum Vitae, or ‘course of life’, otherwise shortened simply to CV, in order to sell yourself and stand out in the saturated world of the employment market.
The idea was to provide a positive sense of progress from one thing in life to another, a sensible story of education and work from school through to wherever you are now. So you would start with your contact details and a single sentence personal mission statement blurb-y kind of thing, then record your educational achievements, then show a clear career path from past to present, then highlight any particular skills you’d like to mention. Sounds fine, except…
My life course is not at all a straight linear path progressing neatly and clearly from one level to the next with increasing complexity and responsibility. It’s more of a ragged jumble of unlinked jobs interspersed here and there with a couple of full-time chunks of educational improvement, and extended gaps of family focused housewifery. And the older I got, the more nonsensical it all looked trying to record it all succinctly on one sheet of paper.
To be fair to myself, for a long time the type of jobs I was applying for (and getting) had no need of a CV at all. The Healthcare, Civil Service and Education sectors that take up a good 15 years or so of my working life required filling in a succesion of very robust sector-specific in-house application forms. But still I persevered in the background with updating that old-style CV of mine until about 10 years ago, when once again a CV became a necessary tool for job-hunting and I had a bit of an epiphany that turned it all on its head.
To make sense of the story of where I was in life at that moment I realised I needed to create a skills-based, not a career-path-based CV. So ever since that moment of clarity I find it much better to have my contact details at the top, then a section highlighting my transferable skills built up over decades of working a variety of jobs across many different sectors, then have my simple list of previous employment, and finally a small section at the bottom noting my further and higher education.
What my CV says about me now is – this is the mature me, these are the transferable skills I can bring to your company, this is cumulatively where I gained that experience – and oh, by the way, I have a degree. It feels much better this way, feels a more authentic record of who I am and where I am in life just now, and far better suits the type of work I’m looking for these days. I’m not a career-girl, and realise now I never really have been, although for a while I gave it a good try…
So right now I’m job-hunting again for the first time since relocating from London to Inverness, and am looking for something part time, reasonably local, that doesn’t require me working evenings or nights. My children are all adults now with children of their own, we’ve bought our own home and are mortgage free, and I’m not looking for any level of responsibility or anything that requires tipping that precious work-life balance too far towards taking work home with me, mentally or physically.
So realistically I’m basically looking for minimum wage retail employment or something along those lines. And if anything in that line isn’t forthcoming any time soon, I’ll consider going back to working in a pub, which is what I did for the last five years we lived in London. So in my own best interests I definitely don’t want to be shoving my degreee down anyone’s throat, or highlighting how many zeroes I used to earn annually working as a univeristy administrator way back when.
And being well into my mid-fifties now, I really need to try to turn my advancing years into a blessing not a curse, into an eminently employable and reliable jack-of-all-trades broad range of experience, not a past-its-best badge of out-of-touch obsolescence. But it’s not an easy task, and rejection is still rejection and it still stings, however old you are.
I’m confident I’ll get there eventually, though, and hopefully my odd jumble of jobs won’t hold me back in my quest – at least they show I’m capable of adapting to many different work situations! 🙂