How to Write a CV for a Career Change

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated July 3, 2022

Are you considering a career change? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, data found that 47% of the UK’s workforce wants to switch careers. And it’s no wonder. The benefits of a career change are huge. The first step in finding your next big opportunity is writing a CV for a career change. While this can be a daunting task if you lack experience in your new field of choice, there is plenty of help available. 

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about writing a career change CV. We’ll touch on what to include in a CV for a career change and the advantages of a skills-based CV for a career change.

8 Tips for Writing a CV for a Career Change

Did you know that talent acquisition specialists spend on average 5-7 seconds looking at a CV? Therefore, it’s key that you make sure your CV for changing career stands out from the crowd. To guide you, we’ve come up with 8 top CV tips for career changers.

1. Do Your Homework

If you think it’s time to switch careers, the very first step is to research your new industry. Not only will this ensure you are making the right decision, but it will give you insight into the new field.

As they say, knowledge is power. Thus, the more research you do the better. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading job descriptions. By doing so, you’ll get to know what skills you need to excel in the role.

Next, learn as much as you can about the industry itself. For instance, read industry reports, stay on top of trends, and follow industry thought-leaders on social media. Trust us, all of this research will pay off when it comes to nailing the interview process

2. Start from Scratch

While it can be tempting to try and salvage your old CV, we recommend starting from zero. That way, you can ensure that everything you include in your CV is 100% relevant to your new industry.

As we learned earlier in this guide, recruiters spend just a few seconds scanning a CV. Therefore, you should avoid adding irrelevant content that doesn’t showcase why you’re right for this job in particular. You may even want to rethink the format, highlighting skills over experience. More on that later.

3. Develop Your Personal Brand

Before you begin to write a CV for a career change, take time to figure out your personal brand. In short, your personal brand is how you want to present yourself in the professional world. By creating a personal brand, you will have a better idea of what you should highlight on your CV. 

When developing your personal brand, you will need to come up with a personal brand statement. This sums up your value, audience, and unique skills. In addition, creating a personal brand statement will empower you to come up with clear career objectives. 

Want to know more? Check out our personal branding tips for career changers.

Developing a personal brand also helps to build confidence. As a career changer, a personal brand showcases who you are and what you have to offer. Thus, encouraging you to really sell your skills. After all, recruiters want to hire candidates who are confident in their ability to do the job.

4. Upskill

Do you remember when we told you to research the industry? Well, now is when that research is going to really pay off. By reviewing job descriptions in your chosen career field, you are able to pinpoint the skills gaps you need to plug. Once you have identified the technical skills you lack, the next step is to upskill and develop those skills.

To do so, you may need to retrain or refresh your skills. Look into professional courses, volunteering opportunities, and other training options to develop the skills you need to break into your new role. As you upskill, don’t forget to highlight your new qualifications and experience at the top of your CV.

5. Focus on Skills, Not Experience

As a career changer, you may lack the experience and technical skills for the role. However, don’t let that put you off. While you may have some skills gaps to plug, you could have the desired soft skills for the job. Throughout your career, you have developed valuable soft skills that can be applied to a number of job roles. These are known as transferable skills. When writing a CV for a career change, the key is to emphasise transferable skills

To do this, start by listing all of the relevant transferable skills you have. Let’s say you’re a former teacher looking for a career in social work. During your teaching career, you have picked up an array of soft skills that would make you a great social worker. For instance, empathy, communication skills, experience working with children, and time management skills. Many of these skills are difficult to train. As a result, you actually have a lot of the key skills needed to excel as a social worker, even if you need to upskill to build some of the technical skills.

Interestingly, data found that 92% of recruitment professionals value soft skills just as much as technical skills in the hiring process. Therefore, a skills-based CV for a career change is a great way to use your previous work experience to show off relevant transferable soft skills. 

6. Use the Right Language

Choose your words carefully. When creating a CV for a career change it’s especially important to use active language. For instance, rather than simply listing the tasks you carried out, showcase what you achieved. Active words help to show potential employers that you’re an achiever, not simply a doer. Let’s look at an example.

Rather than saying “I was responsible for updating the department’s workflow’, try saying “As project lead, my team transformed the department’s workflow, increasing productivity by 4%”. If you’re feeling stuck, analyse job descriptions in the field. This will enable you to identify keywords employers are using and incorporate them into your CV. 

A final piece of advice: typos, grammar mistakes, and bad formatting could very well cost you your dream job. So, proofread your CV multiple times and ask a friend or family member to do a final sweep.

7. Don’t Forget Social Media

With more than 90% of talent acquisition specialists using social media to screen candidates, don’t neglect your social media presence. The first step is to update your LinkedIn and other professional networks. When doing so, cut out irrelevant information and focus on the transferable skills and experiences that fit your new industry. What’s more, if you have an online portfolio or website, make sure it is up-to-date and career-change ready.

Next, it’s time to get active. Social media is a fantastic way to network and build a community in your new career of choice. If you’re new to the social media game, we recommend starting on LinkedIn. Your first move is to follow professionals, thought leaders, and professional pages related to your new field. Then, you should try to engage with them online by liking and commenting on posts, sharing industry-specific content, and participating in conversations. As you build your online presence, you will become much more attractive to prospective recruiters. 

8. Write a Killer Cover Letter

A well-written cover letter can set you apart from the crowd, especially as a career changer. A cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase who you are, why you’re right for the role, and what your skill set is. Our top tip when writing a cover letter for a career change is to tailor your cover letter to the job and company. Generic cover letters will get you nowhere.

For more advice on writing a cover letter specifically tailored to career changers, check out our dedicated guide.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a new career can seem overwhelming. However, it could be the best decision you ever make. At Refreshing a Career, we believe it’s never too late to pursue the career of your dreams. To support you through the process, 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.

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Last Updated: Tuesday July 19 2022
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