CVs and Interviews

How should you frame your work experience on your CV if you’re changing careers?

A concise, persuasive CV is key for landing any job role. But when you’re making a career change, getting it perfect is particularly important. You want to make sure that you get the balance right between discussing your past role, and addressing your new career aspirations.

It’s common for lifelong learners to seek new career paths as their skills and experience develop, and you’re likely to have acquired many coveted skills that are worth highlighting on your CV. So, how should you frame your work experience on your CV if you’re changing careers? Let’s take a look.

Focus on the most relevant responsibilities

Hiring managers generally only take a few seconds to glance over each CV, so you’ll want to ensure the most relevant information is clear and concise to catch their eye. A good start is to read through the job description thoroughly, and note down which key responsibilities you’d be taking on in the advertised role.

No matter how unrelated your past role may seem, there’s bound to be a few similar responsibilities you can showcase to prove your merit. Take a moment to discern which of your previous duties would be most similar to those you’d have in this new role, and focus on highlighting how you’ve grown as a professional using quantifiable examples.

If you’ve undertaken training or work experience to better prepare you for the new responsibilities your career change will require, be sure to highlight these so that they stand out to your potential employer.

Highlight transferable skills

Even the most unrelated past roles will have equipped you with plenty of transferable skills. Some of the most sought-after include leadership skills, problem solving and dependability, among others – these skills will prove valuable across almost every sector.

Rather than listing each of your transferable skills in your CV, you’ll want to focus on the responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate them – any potential employer will be able to read between the lines, and discern the skills you will have gained throughout your work history. You can then elaborate on each one in turn within your personal statement or covering letter to better demonstrate your unique qualities.

Write a standout personal statement

Your opening statement sits right at the top of your CV, and is the first thing any potential employer will see. Make sure it’s well-written, punchy and concise – you only have a few sentences or so to condense lots of persuasive information about why you’re a perfect match for this opening.

Be sure to address your career change in your opening statement, and talk about how you’re well-equipped to handle your new role. You’ll want to frame your past experiences positively, talking about the skills you gained in your last role, whilst also addressing your reasons for changing careers and what you hope to gain from this new career path.

Use a covering letter to explain any gaps

Almost any employer will expect to see a covering letter included in your application alongside your CV, particularly if you’re changing careers. This is your chance to talk in depth about anything that didn’t make it onto your CV, and to expand on anything additional you want to share. Don’t be afraid to talk in detail about your reasons for changing career paths and your long-term goals, and make sure to acknowledge and explain any gaps in your work history.

As a lifelong learner, you’ll have lots of skills and achievements under your belt that any potential employer will look upon favourably. Use your covering letter as a way to expand on each of these – this is your chance to show off your best qualities, and explain to your potential employer exactly why they should support you in your new career.

Be open and honest

Generally, the process for creating a great CV will be the same no matter the sector that you’re entering. However, when making a career change, it’s important to not downplay the transition. Try to be open and honest about your reasons for seeking a new career, whilst framing your experiences and future aspirations in a positive light. With a little courage and tact, you’ll be able to show your new potential employer that you make a great candidate.

Words by Clay Reese

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