Are you struggling to write a career change CV that stands out from the crowd? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 2021 saw the number of workers in the UK considering a career change rise to 60%.
Indeed, it seems that the pandemic has made workers across the world reconsider their careers. The first step in landing your dream job is to write a killer CV. So, we’ve put our heads together to come up with the ultimate CV tips for career changers.
In this guide, we break down the best CV writing tips for career changers and the biggest CV clichés to avoid.
What Not to Include on a Career Change CV
Let’s face it, job hunting is tough. And, as a career changer, it’s often even harder. Making the transition to a new career can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to writing a career change CV. However, the results are worth it.
With over a third of Brits unhappy in their jobs, taking the leap and switching careers could be the best decision you ever make. To help you get your career change CV polished and employer-ready, we’ve compiled a few common CV mistakes to avoid.
Research found that some recruiters spend as little as 8 seconds reviewing a CV. Since time is of the essence, your CV needs to get right to the point. As such, our first tip is to avoid long sentences. Instead, get right to the point with short, snappy sentences.
You want your CV to show that you are an achiever rather than a doer. The best way to achieve this is by cutting out passive language and replacing it with action verbs in the present tense to describe your skills. This makes you sound more dynamic and proactive. For example, rather than “I was responsible for overseeing projects,” why not say, “I spearhead business-wide projects.”
Fight the urge to add too much technical language or jargon to your CV. Even if your job role is a technical one, bear in mind that the recruiter screening your CV needs to understand it too. Therefore, keep jargon down to a bare minimum and explain your accomplishments in simple terms.
It can be tempting to add too much information to your CV to bulk it up, especially as a career changer. However, this will do more harm than good. Every single item on your CV should be relevant to the job role and company you are applying to. As such, it might be time to remove unrelated hobbies from your CV and replace them with more critical information. For instance, your transferable skills, volunteering experience, and examples to highlight your skillset.
One of the biggest no-nos when it comes to writing a career change CV is including statements that you can’t back up. In short, everything on your CV should be demonstrated with examples. So, rather than saying you are adaptable, show it with an example of a time you had to adapt. For example, were you the driving force behind the digital transformation in your department? What changes did you have to adapt to in your previous career, and how can you apply them to this skill?
Want to know more? Check out our comprehensive guide on writing a CV for a career change.
5 Words to Steer Clear of on a Career Change CV
Language matters. Especially on a career change CV when you don’t have the industry-specific experience to do the talking for you. Rather than get disheartened, the best course of action is to solidify your personal brand and sell your skills. This starts with the language you choose in your CV.
Bear in mind that as a career changer, you want to showcase your personality and how your transferable skillset makes you an asset. Thus, you should aim to avoid CV clichés at all costs.
To help you, we’ve rounded up 5 words to avoid on a career change CV.
1. A Quick Learner
We understand that it can be tempting to add this characteristic to your CV, especially as a career changer lacking certain technical skills. It makes sense to want to demonstrate that you are willing to upskill or even retrain for the role. That being said, this is one of the oldest CV clichés in the book. So, if you want to showcase that you can grasp new information quickly, describe a real-life scenario to prove it. Adding a brief overview of a time when you have successfully learned a new skill on the job will turn this cliché into a meaningful statement. Here’s an example:
“I drove the implementation of a new digital training model, mastering the new eLearning tools and rolling out training across the business. As a result, we cut workplace accidents by 25% within the first year.”
Another common trait that recruiters constantly see on CVs is “detail-oriented.” Again, it’s perfectly understandable that you want to demonstrate that you have a keen eye for detail, but the proof is in the pudding. Therefore, the best way to show your accuracy is to proofread your CV and cover letter carefully and ensure there are no mistakes.
On top of removing errors and typos, edit your CV with a fine-tooth comb to remove clichés and meaningless words. Instead, replace those with real-life scenarios that show off your skills in action. In short, show recruiters your strong attention to detail rather than simply telling them. An example could be:
“I processed monthly payroll for over 500 employees, maintaining a 98% accuracy rate.”
3. A Team Player
Almost every CV includes the phrase “I’m a team player”. In fact, this phrase is so overused that most recruiters dismiss it completely. To breathe new life into this tired CV cliché, support it by describing a time when you collaborated well with a team. For instance:
“I collaborated with our internal HR team and an external agency to implement our new employer branding strategy across the whole organisation.”
Let’s be honest, no job seeker is going to admit to being anything other than hardworking. What’s more, working hard doesn’t always mean you’re achieving much. Thus, adding “hardworking” to your CV as a key skill is a bit pointless. There’s a big difference between hard work and productive performance, so you will want to show off your productivity. For instance, have you never missed a deadline? Did you successfully pull off a nationwide launch in record time? This is the kind of information recruiters need to hear.
In addition, time management plays a large role in how productive we are as workers. So, be sure to include examples of a time when you managed your time successfully too.
Employers value workers who can work autonomously, particularly in our increasing remote workforce. However, that doesn’t mean that simply listing “independent” as a skill on your CV will cut it. Your potential new employer will want to see proof of your initiative in action. Therefore, we suggest describing a situation where you had to work independently and what the results were.
The STAR model is an interview technique that helps job seekers properly set up their answers during an interview.
Here’s how the STAR framework works:
- Situation: You should first describe the situation
- Tasks: Then, explain the tasks you had to carry out
- Actions: Follow up with the specific actions you took
- Results: Finally, describe the results or outcomes
While this model was designed for job interviews, it can be adapted to CV writing to help you showcase your skills in a tangible way. Here’s an example of how you can demonstrate your independence on your CV:
“I noticed that we were losing many potential customers at the paywall. So, I initiated and managed a complete overhaul of our payment page UX. This included redesigning the page layout, updating our call-to-actions, and streamlining the payment process. As a result, our bounce rate decreased by 15%”.
Most employers want results-driven, goal-oriented employees. The issue is that almost every job seeker claims to be both of these things. As such, we recommend only including this in your CV if you back it up with examples. If not, it’s just another boring CV cliché that tells the recruiter nothing.
For instance, try swapping “I’m a results-driven go-getter” with something more quantifiable: “I overhauled our departmental workflow, increasing overall productivity by 20%”. This sentence tells a potential recruiter a lot more about your dedication to results.
Of course, that’s not to say that these words and phrases are totally off-limits. If a certain adjective is a key competency required for the role, then use it. Just make sure that you support it with an actionable example. What’s more, if the words appear in the job description, then you may want to include them in your career change CV alongside some more authentic and behaviour-focused words.
5 Words you Should Include in a Career Change CV
Now you know which words to cut from your CV, let’s see what you should replace them with. Recruiters, like the rest of us, are individuals with their own biases and pet peeves. As such, every recruiter is different. That being said, according to the Business Outsider, most talent acquisition specialists look for these 5 words on a CV:
- Written communication
- Performance and productivity advancement
Therefore, we suggest adding these keywords to your career change CV (with examples) to stand out from the crowd.
Writing the perfect career change CV is basically just a series of steps and techniques. By focusing on transferable skills, using real-life examples, and avoiding CV clichés you can create a CV that showcases your value. Always use the job description as a guide, picking out key competencies and demonstrating them in your CV.
Need more CV advice? Our CV writing tips are specifically designed to support career changers in updating their CV. You’ll also find valuable resources such as interview tips and advice on dealing with gaps in your CV.
At Refreshing a Career, our goal is to help career changers make the transition seamlessly. To guide you, we have put together a wealth of valuable resources on our website, including a comprehensive career change guide.
For further advice, check out our resources on changing careers or browse our live job board for career change opportunities near you.