Starting a job search can be an exciting time. And there’s nothing sweeter than spotting that job that ticks all the right boxes. It’s at this point, however, that the hustle begins. Step one? Writing or updating your CV.
For those simply changing jobs within the same field, getting your CV ready for the world to see is a pretty straightforward process that involves tweaking some dates and job descriptions. However, for a career changer who’s looking to move from one field to a completely unrelated one, an entirely different approach is needed.
How to write a skills-based CV for a career change
While a conventional CV aims to showcase a person’s employment history, as a career changer, your employment history is less important than the relevant transferable skills you have. You want to show employers that while you may not have years of experience in the specific job you’re applying for, you still have a LOT to offer. Here’s how to do that.
1. The personal statement
Start with a personal statement – this should be a short paragraph that states three things: who you are (current job), what you want (career aspirations) and what you have to offer (skills and experience).
2. Your key skills
Add a key skills section to the top of your CV and pull out five to six key skills you have that are relevant to the job. The first thing you want to show them is that you have the core skills needed for the job, even though you may not necessarily have experience in that specific job role.
This key skills section should take the format of a bullet-pointed list with a sentence or two explaining where you acquired the skill and how you use it in your current role.
3. Your employment history
Briefly outline your employment history. There are a few rules to bear in mind for this section. Firstly, only mention the relevant roles you’ve had, and by relevant we mean that these roles required you to use or develop skills that are relevant to your new career field. Secondly, while volunteering and work experience are not technically employment positions (meaning that you weren’t paid to do them), you should mention these in this section, as long as they’re relevant to your new career field. Finally, don’t forget to state the job title, the company you worked for, a description of each role’s responsibilities, key achievements in that role and the dates you worked in that job.
4. Your education history
Outline your education history, but if you graduated from uni more than 10 years ago, there’s no need to go further back than higher education. While your A Levels may be impressive, they really have little relevance once you’ve got a decade of work experience under your belt.
Also, take care to stack the odds in your favour by removing extraneous information that could be used against you. For example, if you graduated from uni more than five years ago, delete your graduation date. Providing such dates can help potential employers estimate your age, which can then be used to discriminate against you. The only details you need to include within the education section of your CV are your degree name, the university you went to and the grade you got.
5. Hobbies and interests
The hobbies and interest section is a controversial one. While some people believe that including your hobbies shows your personality, we’re yet to meet a recruiter or employer who has hired a person based on his or her love of tennis. We think the space on your CV is better used on adding detail to the above sections. If you have an interest or hobby that is very relevant to the role (e.g. you speak a language and you’re applying for a job with an international company or you’re an amateur photographer and you’re applying for a job in a media company), you should mention this in your key skills section.
Finally, comes the reference section. Do not divulge the names and contact details of your referees on your CV, especially if you are still in your current role and your employer does not know you are looking for a new job. The last thing you want is for an over-enthusiastic recruiter to contact your current employer BEFORE you’ve told your boss you’re leaving your job. Stick to the simple ‘references on request’ statement at the bottom of your CV. Some people advise against this because they believe it’s stating the obvious, but clarity never hurts.
And that’s a skills-based CV in a nutshell.
The only other thing to remember is to limit it to no more two pages of A4 and to use a simple, easy-to-read font like Calibri or Arial.
If you’d like to see an example of one, head over to our resources section to download a skills-based CV template.
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