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What to put on a CV if you're changing career

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If you decided to switch sectors or change career you’ll need to revamp your CV to explain why. Your decision to change career might seem logical to you, but if you don’t address it on your CV you probably won’t get called for interviews. The best way to do this is to tailor your CV to include a strong CV bio and cover letter.

CV Bio

Your goal here is to make it clear you understand the job you’re applying for isn’t directly relevant to you, but that you are eager and passionate about committing yourself to something new. State why you want to change industries or career. Include a line on what makes you stand out from other applicants, your passion and what transferable skills you possess.

CV layout & content

Your CV should show you’ve tried to upskill and are eager to change career – not that you’re just chancing your arm and applying for any job that takes your fancy. Like all CVs, use the job description to guide you and place the most relevant information towards the top of your CV.

Unlike other CVs, for most career changers a skills section is valuable. Include a skills section straight after your bio. List your transferable skills and detail how you have developed these skills and used them to achieve results in the past.

Even if your work experience or education isn’t valid, include these too. Keep these sections brief and try to focus on elements of your previous roles that have relevance to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you are switching to a caring profession focus on how you have worked with people or projects where you displayed organisation and communication skills.

Similarly, if you’ve recently done a course or internship in the area you want to enter emphasise this.

Industry specific words

When discussing your previous career avoid using jargon. Jargon can get lost in translation across different industries. What makes perfect sense to you could be gibberish to someone in the field you want to enter.

Career changer’s cover letter

A cover letter is a direct way to explain why you’re changing career and why you’d be so great in the role on offer. Like all cover letters, keep it brief and personalised. Explain why you want to change career and what led to this decision.

Make it clear that you have researched the industry, thought strongly about switching jobs and are passionate and committed to your new career. Avoid talking about previous career changes as this will make you appear uncertain and likely to change direction again – a costly risk for any hiring manager.

Don’t omit other information about your previous career, this is what will distinguish you from everyone else. Instead, frame your past experiences to demonstrate all your transferable soft and hard skills. Innovation comes from diverse experiences and backgrounds. This is why more and more companies are looking to hire different mindsets and backgrounds. Make sure you use your experience to your advantage.

Research the industry you want to enter, look online, attend events, connect with people in the industry, then look at what you’ve done in the past – education, professional development and skills. Use this infromation to determine what’s considered useful for your new career and highlight this on your CV. Changing career isn’t easy, but with the right CV and cover letter you’ll soon find yourself getting more calls for interview.

Looking for more CV Advice? Download our CV Handbook.