Tailoring your CV for flexible and part-time roles

Recruitment specialist Roy Duncan writes about how to make your CV stand out and what you need to consider when applying for a flexible or part-time role

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CV tips are available from the internet in abundance, yet many of the thousands of CVs that I review over a year appear to have been prepared with little thought on how effective they will be in the marketplace. Indeed for better or worse, often the CVs tend to reflect the personality of the candidate!

Are you giving recruiters the wrong idea?

Here are some simple ideas that can help you to build a CV and get you on to interview shortlists, including some specific tricks and tips you should think about when applying for a part-time or flexible post.

If you are an employer it may help to set the bar to decide which applicants are worth short-listing.

It’s a marketing document

The first thing you need to consider is that your CV is a marketing document created to sell the person it represents. It must include the following information:

  • Name, general location  and contact details
  • Unique and/or key skills
  • Qualifications and experience
  • Key achievements
  • Career objectives
  • What you can offer a prospective employer (targeted towards the job)

Content and structure

Having thought about what you have to offer, you will need to get all of this across as succinctly and clearly as you can. To do this use a standard format – easily found on-line – and adapt it to provide a consistent and easy to follow structure such as:

  • Name, main qualification location, contact details – on top of first page
  • Profile – This should also be on the first page and briefly explain what you are – eg Financial Controller, key experience, what you have to offer and what you are looking for
  • Achievements and core skills/competences – usually positioned below the profile in bullet points or may be combined
  • Current / most recent role – should be on the front page

This approach will enable anyone who is reading your CV to understand quickly what you are about and whet their appetite.

You now need to add some meat on to the bones:

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For each job:

  • Job title, Employer and dates (in reverse chronological order) and whether job was part-time
  • Brief overview of the organisation. what you did and your main responsibilities
  • Your main achievements in the role and how you added value

Education. Qualification, institute and date/s are sufficient. Avoid listing the whole course syllabus – unless you are applying for your first job

Skills and IT: Include Languages, software skills,  training and CPD and courses etc.

Personal Details: Again keep it simple – if you do have an interesting hobby add it! I was once put forward for a job by an agent who spotted in addition to my relevant key skills that I attended drama improvisation classes – that drew attention to my application and differentiated me from other applicants


First of all, ideally no more than 2 or 3 pages. Secondly, The 3 S’s – Structure structure and structure!  It is no good having all the skills and experience if your CV looks a mess.  Here are a few simple tips:

  • Avoid cramming and use white space to your advantage
  • Fonts – no smaller than 10 and select a font that is easy to read in print and on screen, such as Ariel, Calibri, Geneva, Tahoma, Time New Roman, Verdana etc.  Avoid Courier, Gothic and any curly types.
  • Bullet points, white space and formatting– Bullet points are useful when highlighting, but keep it simple and avoid numbered lists.
  • Job title on left with company name underneath, date on right – helps to draw attention to your jobs and progression.
  • Consistency – use the same font and heading format throughout – this enables the reader to follow it easily.
  • Easy to read and understand – reverse chronological order and complete
  • Use a template and adapt it – do not copy directly!

Language and writing style

It is okay to paraphrase, especially in list format; however make sure your style is consistent.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • Use strong verbs such as created, solved, identified, saved money and avoid vague phrases such as ‘I was involved in …’ , ‘ assisted with…’ etc unless that is what you did.
  • Use the active voice wherever possible
  • Avoid obscure or ambiguous acronyms
  • Avoid long list of skills

The challenge for part-time and flexible workers

In the UK we consider part-time work to be less than 34 hours per week. Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics state that there are c. 8 million part-time workers in the UK, with the vast majority having chosen to work part-time. If you are in this category you may discover that finding a part-time job a real challenge.

This may be due to:

  • Lots of competition
  • Unable to find suitable roles that match your skill set
  • Unable to get your CV in front of the gatekeeper or decision maker
  • CV fails to get across that you are looking for a part-time role
  • Mismatch between hours offered and hours required
  • Lack of clarity whether you are really looking for part-time work or just aiming to get back into work
  • Lack of flexibility by both prospective employee and employer

So is there a magic formula you may ask. Not exactly!  However a little background knowledge will go a long way towards opening the door.

Let’s just think for one moment; have you ever considered how challenging it might be for the potential employer?  After all they want to find the right person who best fits the role.

Often they will advertise the role, receive a large number of CVs only to find that most of the CVs don’t match the job description/ person specification!

Even worse, many applicants are really looking for a full-time job or intend to use the role as a stepping stone to get back into any employment.

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Targeting your CV for part-time and flexible roles

This may sound basic, however like many things simplicity is often the key. The most important consideration to remember again is that your CV is a marketing document to get you the interview no matter whether the job is full-time or part-time.

So the purpose will be to enable the gatekeeper/employer to quickly see that you are an excellent match for the role.  If you can do that you will be one of a small number who will be considered for the role. You need to include in your profile and/or covering letter the following information:

  • Highlight your relevant skills for the role
  • State how many hours you wish to work
  • Ease of travel if on site or flexibility
  • Your notice period
  • Current circumstances/why you want to work part-time

Before you send out your CV it is essential that you review it for errors in grammar and spelling and check it for ambiguities and inaccuracies.   Ask a friend to review it. You must also review it for accuracy of dates, job titles and content. You must be prepared to discuss or support everything  that is included on your CV. And vitally consider if you’ve tailored it to the role, especially for part-time or flexible work.

Once your CV has gone to the agency or client, it is a good idea to call them and “check” that they have received your CV and application.  This will help to get noticed and gain an advantage over other applicants.

And hopefully my tips and suggestions will give you an advantage too! Good luck with your search


Roy Duncan is is an entrepreneurial chartered certified accountant with over 30 years’ experience in business, accounting and recruitment. He is owner of RG Duncan an independent, boutique, specialist recruitment consultancy.

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