• Jo

My top 5 CV tips for...a career switcher

Switching careers can be an exciting but daunting venture. Reasons vary from growing bored of a career path that once seemed exciting and full of opportunity, to wanting to move into a career that provides more ethical satisfaction, to being forced into the situation for institutional or economical reasons.  I hope that at least some of you reading this are changing careers through choice rather than it being imposed upon you, but my tips are for anyone taking that leap.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Skills are transferable but you may need to spell it out. If you’re amongst 20 other people applying for a role that’s more aligned to their backgrounds, you’ll need to put yourself into a competitive position by ensuring your skillset is equally relevant. To highlight your transferable attributes, you might consider including a skills section at the top of your CV as it may help to focus the recruiter’s attention. Just be careful not to try too hard and exaggerate skills you don’t really have just to put yourself in the running, as the interview will be where it all unravels. 

Tailor everything to the career you’re moving into not the one you’ve just had. This overlaps with the previous point but is so important I felt the need to split it off into a paragraph of its own.  You may have gained some fantastic skills from the career you’ve already had but if they’re not required for the one you want then there’s no point including them, so think about the skillset required for the new career and leave out everything that’s irrelevant. This includes jargon.  If you previously worked in finance and abbreviations like GAAP, APR, CGT, IFA and ROI became a second language to you but you’re applying to be an estate agent, you’re going to need to change tack.  Instead, do your research and focus on the skills you’ll need to be a successful estate agent such as communication, customer service, negotiation, organisation etc – it’s pretty likely you’ll have put these skills to good use within your finance career as well.

Make your passion for a change in career clear.  Your personal statement would be a good place to highlight this along with your transferable skills, and also where a cover letter might come in handy. Employers rarely see applicants with 100% of their requirements, so what you’re missing in bullet points could be overcome by demonstrating your drive and motivation for the new role.

Consider upskilling. If there are skills missing from your repertoire, consider whether it’s feasible to obtain them through additional training, work experience or volunteering, to boost your chances. If your career switch is from a commercial manager to a veterinarian, then obtaining additional qualifications kinda goes without saying!

Write your CV from scratch.  Once you’ve taken all of the above into consideration, I’d highly recommend creating a whole new CV (with or without the help of a professional CV writer) so that you can really focus your approach on this new and exciting career you’re embarking on without being influenced by your old document and all the irrelevant information it holds.

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