How to prepare your CV for a career change

Thinking of a career change? Careers expert Emma Alkirwi has some advice on how to frame your CV for a move to another sector.

close up of a woman in a red skirt holding a CV

 

workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey shows a huge appetite for change. 38% of the over 2,000 respondents have retrained in the last three years and 44% are planning to retrain within 12 months while half are looking to change sector in the near future.  Our first Return to Work Week last autumn had a big focus on career transition, but how do you write your CV to increase your chances of success. CV Guru Emma Alkirwi has some advice. 

When applying for a job in a new field or industry, there’s often a concern that your current professional experience isn’t what employers are looking for.

But with a well-composed CV, you can prove that you’re the right person for the role – even if it’s different from previous positions you’ve held.

There are a few adjustments to make to your application documents when you are pivoting towards a different role. In this guide, we will break down how to prepare a CV for a career change, with tips to showcase your transferable skills and experience so you can impress potential employers.

Adapt your professional profile

Your Professional Profile is your first opportunity to make a good impression on an employer. Therefore providing an important opportunity to lay out your professional goals and objectives.

When preparing a CV for a career change, use this section to introduce the skills and experience you’ve picked up in your career so far.

Before you start writing, ask yourself:

 How does your previous experience make you the most suitable candidate?
 How can you demonstrate your understanding of your new chosen career?

Then, make connections with your experiences and achievements and the role you are applying for by using keywords from the job description.

Highlight transferable skills in the Key Skills section

When you’re changing career paths, the Key Skills section of a CV is one of the most critical sections to get right.

Some of the most sought-after skills that employers are looking for are the ones that you already have. According to Indeed, communication, adaptability and leadership are among a candidate’s most desirable attributes. You just need to demonstrate how you can adapt these to the opportunities you wish to apply for.

Consider the transferable skills and abilities that you’ve picked up throughout your career and how these can be applied to the position you want. Make sure that you tailor your Key Skills section to the new role and, like with any other CV, back up your claims with specific examples in the Career Summary section.

Demonstrate relevant experience within your Career Summary

There are a few ways to lay out the Career Summary section of a CV when changing careers. The traditional chronological career summary, which reviews job history from the most recent position back, can still be effective if you focus this experience on how it has prepared you for a new role and showcase the transferable skills that you mentioned in the previous section. You should leave out any industry-specific achievements that are irrelevant to your new field.

However, career summaries can also be divided into two sections: ‘Relevant Work Experience’ and ‘Other Work Experience’.

In the first section, detail any experience that is relevant to the new position, even if it wasn’t your most recent role. This can include voluntary work or roles from earlier in your career. The other work experience section covers all of your positions. This layout means that the recruiter can see your intention through the highlighted relevant skills straight away.

Understand the language

As well as understanding the keywords in the job description to tailor your CV to the employer’s needs, it’s also important to understand the language of the new field.

There’s no need to go overboard; just show that you already have an understanding of the industry and a keen interest in the role. Similarly, leave out any jargon that is too specific to your previous role or industry.

Include a strong Cover Letter

Finally, make sure you prepare a Cover Letter that complements your CV and expands on both why you want to move into a new career and why you’re the right fit for the role.

Start with a brief explanation as to why you want to change your career. At this stage of the application process, there’s no need to go into too much detail. Just give potential employers an idea of what inspired you to go down this new professional path.

Expand on your previous experience and link it to the job description, to show potential employers what you can bring to the company and the position.

We hope this blog has given you an idea of how to compile a CV that impresses employers in your chosen field. By emphasising your transferable skills and relevant work experience, you can demonstrate that you are ready to embrace new opportunities.

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.  CV Guru’s expert CV writers understand that preparing a CV for a career change can be more complicated than writing a traditional CV, and we’re here to help. They offer bundles that include a Cover Letter, CV and LinkedIn Profile tailored to your needs and to the job you’re applying for. Find out more about their services here.

**Look out for the 2024 Return to Work Week from 13th to 17th May. It will be packed with events, webinars, articles and other advice on everything you need to get back to work, whether you have been out for a few months or several years.



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