CV tips to help you move from a commercial role to the third sector

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Laura Slingo at TopCV shares top CV tips to help you move from a commercial role to the third sector.

If you’ve decided that the commercial industry isn’t for you anymore and that you’d like to have a job where you can make a difference, the third sector is a great option. But to land a job in this sector, you need to make your suitability clear because the aims and the target markets are quite different to the corporate world.

Here are a few CV tips to help you make the transition successfully.

Make your skill set clear

Generally, there are third sector equivalents to commercial roles, particularly regarding the skills required. To show that you are the right candidate for the role, despite coming from a business-focused background, you need to reflect the skills required for the role in your CV.

Read the job description thoroughly and highlight the requirements you fulfil. As you mark them, think of concrete examples that quantify your abilities and really show the recruiter what you can do.

This will be more straightforward if you are from a tech, HR or finance background, as often the same skills are required no matter what industry you work in. However, if you work in marketing, you’ll need to get creative to show how you can devise a charity-focused campaign strategy or represent a charity brand in the press and media, for example.

Draw parallels between your experience and the vacancy criteria to prove that you will be an asset to the organisation. With actionable examples of the skills listed on the job description, you’re sure to convince the recruiter that your abilities have genuine substance.

Show that you’re serious about the sector

Many people choose to transition from the commercial sector to the third sector because they want a job that’s more meaningful. While this is great, be aware that your passion for the industry may not land you the job, as you’re potentially a flight risk.

To prove that you’re committed to working for a charity and are suited to the sector, it’s worth showcasing your industry-related experience. This could be anything from getting involved with social responsibilities, to volunteering. That way, you’ll be more on par with other applications that have charity experience.

You might like to present charity-specific experience alongside other roles in a chronological CV format, or you may prefer to draw attention to it by listing it in a functional CV format. The choice is yours.

Format your CV to perfection

Recruitment practices are essentially the same for every industry. Organisations in the third sector spend plenty of time sifting through CVs and cover letters to find the ideal candidate for the job, so you’ll do well to present a professionally formatted CV that displays your details clearly and concisely.

Start by tweaking your name at the top of the page so that it’s in a large font. You want it to be prominent and memorable, like the title of a book.

Then, divide your CV into clear sections and mark each one with a bold heading to help the recruiter navigate to certain sections easily. Use bullet points where possible, as this will help the recruiter identify what they’re looking for quickly, as opposed to wading through chunky paragraphs of text.

Choose a plain font like Calibri or Arial for your headings and the body of your CV and make the margins a sensible width so that your CV doesn’t look too busy or sparse. Your CV should fill two pages comfortably, perhaps three if you’re at a director level. If the content is spilling over or just under, tweak the margins and the font sizes so that it fits.

Remember, as your CV is an extension of yourself, you’ll create a positive first impression if your CV looks slick and professional.

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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