How to adapt your CV for a career change

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Laura Slingo at TopCV shares advice on how to update your CV when you're seeking a career change.

Many people assume that career paths are linear journeys with incremental chances for career advancement. But with many professionals switching industries several times throughout their career, modern career paths are breaking away from this traditional attitude.

And how do they do this so successfully? Through a superb CV that clearly displays their best assets, of course. Here’s how you can adapt your CV for a career change.

Tweak your personal statement

Your personal statement sits at the top of your CV and is often the first section a recruiter reads. Therefore, it needs to create a powerful impression for the right reasons.

This can be daunting if you’re going through a career change, especially if you think you might be up against candidates with more experience than you. But it’s easier to figure out than you think.

Draw attention to your transferable skills and any exposure you have gained in your new, desired field. Make the focus on what you have, rather than what you lack.

Also, briefly state why you’re so interested in this new career path. Add just enough to put the recruiter’s mind at ease; you want to show that this is a serious decision, rather than a fleeting thought. Don’t worry about explaining fully – this can be saved for your cover letter or in the interview.

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Keep the layout flexible

While CVs have a few essential elements, their structures have some give and can be moulded to your personal circumstances. When writing a CV for a career change, you have a few options to make your experience stand out.

Since the most relevant information to the recruiter should sit in the top third of your CV, it’s wise to be selective with the role you list first. Instead of listing your entire career history under one heading, split it into subsections.

Focus the first section towards your experience that’s related to the industry you want to enter, and in the second section, list your remaining employment information from the last 10 years in less detail. This structure prioritises the information the recruiter is most interested in.

If you don’t have much experience in the sector you’re targeting, it’s best to adopt a functional CV format. This format is skills-based and focuses on your core competencies, skills and personal attributes, as opposed to your past positions. Consider this format a last resort though – recruiters and applicant tracking systems alike do not typically respond favourably to it.

Sell your skills and abilities

Changing careers can seem like a risky move, especially if you're already settled in your current career path. As a result, it’s too easy to focus on why you’re not good enough for the new industry. Try to fight this mistake to avoid putting employers off your application.

Throughout your CV, zoom in on what you can offer that’s relevant to the vacancy. Remember to avoid referencing how great this opportunity would be for you. Instead, focus on what you can do for the employer.

Rather than listing your duties and responsibilities from past roles, highlight your achievements with concrete evidence, such as facts and statistics. This proves what you're capable of and shows employers that you’re full of great potential.

Tailor to the job in question

Remember that a CV isn’t documentation of your entire career history, just the pertinent points that show why you’re a good fit for the vacancy.

When you’re going for a career change, spend some time making links between your skills and experience from the industry you’ve been working in and the new career path you want to pursue. This will help lay the foundations for your CV.

Once you’ve done this, take a deep dive into every job description and mark up the specific requirements to be mentioned throughout your CV. Draft multiple copies to send to each employer and watch the interviews roll in.

TopCV offers a range of CV-writing services including expertly-written and keyword-optimised CVs, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. It is currently offering a free CV review to help you land your dream job.

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