CV tips for career changers

Career expert Corinne Mills gives her top tips on how to re-write your CV when making a career change and how to sell yourself as the right candidate

1. CV format.

Relegate your career history to the second page of your CV. Use a heading like “Relevant Skills and Experience” on the first page and include underneath anything that shows you have the ability to do the job you are applying for. It can include both paid and unpaid work, extra-curricular activities, training and qualifications drawn from any point in your career or personal life. You don’t need to put dates on them. It will help the recruiter focus on your suitability rather than be distracted by your previous job titles

2. Career progression not change.

Avoid describing yourself as a career changer on your CV as this can put off recruiters who often prefer candidates with more conventional career histories. Use a Career Profile on the first page of your CV to show your relevant capabilities and how your previous career and your new one are part of a natural progression. For example, “My retail banking roles have provided an excellent background for a career in fraud investigation as I am already trained and experienced in dealing with suspected money laundering and identity theft “. When you are describing previous jobs on your CV, you should also select skills, expertise and achievements that have relevance to your new career rather than just focusing on those that were important at the time. This will help to reinforce the idea of career progression.

3. Labels are important.

This isn’t about wearing a designer outfit. It’s about labelling yourself on your CV in a way that shows your compatibility for the new role you are applying for rather than emphasising how different your previous career may have been. Use the job titles they use in the advert to describe yourself. For instance if you want to move from administration to events organisation, then don’t call yourself an Administrator, call yourself “Superb event’s organiser whose previous administration roles involved substantial event management from organising a wide range of staff events, to project managing a series of highly successful public open days”

4. Inside knowledge.

Check out trade magazines or look on social media sites such as Linkedin to find out what are the challenges and concerns that preoccupy those working in the field you want to enter, including any commonly used jargon or buzz-words, and use these in your CV. For instance if there are new regulations, technologies or approaches that are going to have an impact then refer to these in your CV to make you look as if you are “in the know”. For example “Fully aware of new legislation on ….”

5. Mind the gaps.

As a new career changer you are unlikely to have everything an employer is looking for. However, there is no point ignoring this and hoping they won’t notice, because recruiters will be assessing your CV specifically to see if you meet every single one of their selection criteria. Where there are gaps, you must show how you can fill them. For example if you don’t have experience of using a particular database they want, then emphasise your experience of working with a comparable database, your high level IT skills and your ability to learn quickly. You could also mention any training courses, qualifications, reading or unpaid work experience that you have either already undertaken or intend to pursue to bridge any knowledge gaps for example “About to start online course to develop ABC database skills”.

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