How to Write a CV for a Career Change

Ella Burt

Ella Burt

5 min read
career changers

Writing a CV can make you feel like you’re back in secondary school, anxiously hoping you’ll get high marks on a written exam. Is it ever easy to describe ourselves, or to compile the total of our work experience and best skills onto a single sheet of paper?

When you’re planning a career change, it’s helpful to start looking at the similarities between your current job and desirable positions. This will help you identify relevant skills to build upon as you work on gaining new experience and building new skills.

Ahead of even applying for your first job in a new role, it’s helpful to write a career plan to create a progress sheet of steps you need to take before acquiring a new position.

This may feel like a long way off from your current point, but it can help you set clear goals and establish a framework for your career transition.

Once you know what you need to get from your current field into another industry, you can start building a CV that reflects this unique period in your life. Rather than shy away from admitting you’re new to an industry, you can leverage this as an advantage.

1. Write a CV for Each Role

You should avoid copy-and-paste CVs at all costs. This hinders your likelihood of receiving an interview request, and they make it difficult for you to stand out among the masses.

When you’re interested in a particular role, read each job description thoroughly. See where you can tie the employer’s needs and values into your own personal statement and relevant experiences.

You can also modify your existing skills to align more effectively with the responsibilities of any given role.

Use the listings to pinpoint keywords that can emphasize your own talents, such as “develop,” “lead,” and “strategise.”

Make sure that you write a unique cover letter for every position as well. Employers can spot a generic application from a mile away, and lets be honest, you want to stand out as much as possible.

If you fail to include a letter and or statement, you may be automatically filtered out of a company’s applicant tracking system. This software checks applications for mandatory requirements and eliminates those that don’t meet a company’s criteria.

2. Highlight Transferable Skills

Despite what you may think, you’ve likely built many skills over the course of your career that will help you in your next job.

There are many skills that are highly versatile and valuable across industries.

These include:

  • Written communication
  • Research and analytical abilities
  • Organisation
  • Project management
  • Numeracy skills
  • Decision-making
  • Problem solving

The key is to list skills alongside experience that highlights how you’ve used these skills effectively in the workplace.

For example, if you say you’re a good problem solver, be sure to specify how you utilised this skill. Perhaps you frequently resolved issues for customers, or maybe you saved your company time, cut costs, or developed solutions.

Don’t exclude hobbies and interests, either. You can use this section of your CV to showcase your personality and demonstrate how your passions align with your target industry.

3. Sell Your Skills and Experience

Whenever you write a CV, the most important thing to do is focus on skills and accomplishments. Specifically, you want to use accomplishments to illustrate your skills in action.

In any previous roles, how did your skills help you achieve your goals?

Your work history needn’t be extensive to have clear achievements. These do not have to be anything tied to awards or major recognitions; instead, you could focus on results you delivered, such as reducing workloads or improving communication.

It’s helpful to write your career change CV in a reverse chronological order, which demonstrates your most recent achievements first.

Be sure to mention quantifiable achievements. These are measurable effects of your work that speak directly to employers’ needs. Examples include financial figures, social media statistics, number of customers served, and percentages of benchmarks.

For example, you may highlight that you saved your company £500 in a quarter by improving workflows or increased social media engagement by 200%.

4. Upskill Yourself

Your skills section may seem a bit barren if you’re changing careers, but that only leaves more opportunity to grow.

Job applicants should always be seeking new ways to improve their existing skillsets and acquire new ones.

Make sure you take a close look at current job titles in your industry, and see what skills employers are actively seeking on job boards. Upskilling can help you transition into a new field easier and earn more from the start.

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