When changing careers it can be hard to structure your CV and know what to include. Dont worry, your intention to change careers shows confidence and motivation that will help you sell yourself. Here are some simple considerations to make when making a career change.
Before you start applying for new roles, do some research into the industry you're applying for. Try to understand what the career change will involve and what your new day to day tasks will be. To help with your research:
Networking is very useful in this case, as you can increase the number of people you know in the industry while getting a good idea of what you're new career will involve.
Look into the negative aspects of the job to ensure you really want to make the change.
After your research and looking at the negative aspects of the career you want to move into, youve decided you still want to go ahead. The strongest advice given for this is to start a brand new CV. With a new career you need a new CV. This process is easier than tweaking an old CV that is not relevant to your new industry.
As you would with a standard CV, this should be three or four sentences. Use this opportunity to explain who you are and why you will perform well in your new profession. Enthusiasm and drive can make up for lacking sections of the job criteria, so don’t be disheartened.
This is where you may find the most difficulty. Don’t panic, just look at your current skillset and use the ones that are most transferable. Emphasize these skills especially. Your research should have allowed you to recognise the skills you possess that are most appealing to your new target industry, so ensure these are suitably highlighted. Don’t be afraid to use keywords from the job description, use examples to demonstrate these skills.
Try to find natural crossovers - for example project management and problem solving are highly transferable and should be easy to find examples of in your current work.
One possibilty is use your key skills as headings with summaries underneath
Although you may be tempted, dont leave out any work history. Unexplained gaps in your work history on your CV are never recommended.
As with a standard CV, your work history is most suited in chronological order with your most recent work first. When applying in a new industry its most likely your recent work history is not relevant to your new industry. In this case there are two alternatives you could use:
Move your most relevant experience to the top, disregarding a chronological order in favour of relevant order.
Keep the chronological order, but provide more detail for your most relevant work experience while maybe even considering reducing the font size on any irrelevant experience.
There’s a lot to consider here, in the majority of cases your probably best using the second approach. The first approach would be better if your most relevant experience is buried very low. In this case moving it to the top makes it easier to read while keeping the irrelevant work shows you have no gaps in your work history.
If you do have gaps in your work history, just explain them. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from your career so never be ashamed. Just make sure you're transparent about this and try to explain the benefits or skills these gaps brought you.
If you're struggling to find relevance in your work history for your new industry, then think about and highlight accomplishments and essential skills that show you're proactive.
Don't forget any voluntary work, this is especially valuable when moving careers because it shows you have passion for your new industry. Internships, training or volunteering that are relevant to your new industry show enthusiasm, which can help compensate for some of the skills you may be missing.
When changing industry always write a new cover letter when applying for a role. The employer wont even consider your CV if they can clearly see you havent got the relevant industry experience, so the cover letter helps you introduce yourself and highlight why your suitable for this new career change.
Use your cover letter to highlight your desire for your career change and ensure your taking the opportunity to highlight the achievements and skills you have that are most transferable/relevant to the industry your moving to.
As mentioned before, volunteer work and qualifications are very valuable. While you may mention them in your work history and education sections, you can still take the opportunity to mention them again in your interests along with any other interests you spend time doing that may be viewed as useful for the industry you're applying for.
Again the research you begun this process with becomes useful here, as you should have no problem explaining why your non-work related interests will be beneficial in your new career.
If you feel your outside interests won’t help your case in showing passion for your new industry, then don’t worry, just leave this section out.
As with a standard CV, references upon request is fine here. Just ensure you have a couple of references handy incase they do get requested, family friends, teachers, career counsellors and old or current managers are all fine, just ensure you ask their permission first.
A couple of other thoughts to consider include:
Dont include every minor achievement on your CV. Try to only include information that supports your new career goals and be mindful of achievements that may not be impressive in your new industry.
Be careful of using industry specific language. Both in terms of your new industry and old. Ensure your using professional language and steer clear of using new industry phrases you may not be comfortable with as this may portray your lack of knowledge.
Once you’ve completed your new CV, consider posting it as searchable on some job sites. This will put you in front of recruiters that require people in the positions you desire and they will contact you. However the risk here is you get too many calls or the jobs being presented to you aren’t matching to the kind of jobs you would like to move into.