How to write a career change CV

Isn’t it great a feeling when you are filling out an application form for a job you really want and you can tick, tick, tick your way down the person specification list? Unfortunately, if you want to change careers, no matter how exciting the job feels and no matter how much you know you’d be great, that person specification has just killed your dream before you even got started.

Or has it?

Did you know that statistics tell us how men apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the qualifications required, however women only apply if they meet 100%? 100%! I know it to be true too, because looking back to past job applications, if I didn’t meet ALL the requirements, even if I met 90% I thought, well ‘what’s the point? I’m not what they are looking for’, whilst a man with 60% of the requirements possibly went on to get my dream job!

It proves that it is possible to change careers and not necessarily meet all of the qualifications, we just need to feel confident about applying!

To help boost your confidence when applying for a job that doesn’t necessarily reflect your employment history and experience, I have put together my top tips for your career change CV:

  1. Write a powerful personal statement… 
    This will sit right at the top and only needs to be a short paragraph. State what you currently do, what your career aspirations are and what skills and experience you have to offer. If you need to use the word ‘transferable’ then use it, most skills are!

  2. Clearly outline your key skills… 
    I would suggest 4-6 that are relevant to the job you are applying for. This way the recruiter knows you have the core skills, even if your experience may not obviously reflect that. I suggest a bold headline, with a bullet points describing how you gained the skill and an example of an achievement.

  3. Your employment history… 
    People often make the mistake of listing everything. It’s not necessary to go back to when you once worked in a bar and developed excellent communication skills with party people. If it’s not relevant, ditch it! Don’t worry about gaps on your CV, from my experience this won’t put people off; they might ask you about it, in which you can tell them. Consider your employment history as a ‘need to know basis’, what do they need to know about you? What role helped you to use/develop the skills they are looking for? Don’t just stick to paid positions, voluntary roles and internships, as long they are relevant are appropriate here.
    Tip: list in a clear format and include your job title, the company, from and to dates, a description of the relevant responsibilities you held and your achievements in that role.

  4. Your education… 
    My advice would be, if you graduated from university 8+ years ago, there’s no need to go back any further. Your A-Levels are not really going to be the selling point when you have 8 years of work experience; it’s a waste of precious space (more on that below). However, if you feel that it’s still useful to list your A-Levels etc, then go ahead!
    A tip for my younger audience: you can leave out the dates here. Unfortunately we live in a society where age may be used against you. By leaving out the dates, employers cannot (potentially) discriminate you on your age. Just include your degree name and grade, along with your university.

  5. Simply write ‘References on request’…
    This way it doesn’t take up much space and do you really want to run the risk of an enthusiastic recruiter contacting your boss who doesn’t know about your job search yet? 

Other things to consider:

  • Leave out your hobbies. As lovely as it is you won’t get hired for your morning yoga practice or your love of keeping up with current affairs. However, if your yoga practice is relevant to the job you are applying for or your semi-fluent Spanish will be useful, include it in your key skills. If it’s not important enough to list there, leave it out.

  • Keep to 1 page, which forces you to be precise and concise. I know the advice often given is 2 pages, however evidence shows how the human attention span is now at 8 seconds. You have 8 seconds to impress!

  • Use a simple and easy to read text like Arial.

  • You can be creative in your CV, as long as it’s clear (in no way distracting from all the amazing info about you). Canva is a great free tools that provides lots of templates for free, however be careful of making your CV look ‘busy’ and make sure it is print friendly (no background images etc). 

I have a template for a career change CV, do get in touch if you would like a copy.