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How to write your CV when changing career

It's one thing to create your CV when you’re applying for a similar role where you have lots of relevant experience and achievements directly related to the new role you want.

But what if you don’t? How do you create your CV to show that you’re capable of making the move?

You want to make a change in your career, to a role / business area you have no direct experience in. Maybe you want to move from Operations to HR, or from Retail to Finance, etc .

This is where a Functional or Skills-based CV is useful – it enables you to show your transferable skills and the value you’ll bring to the role, while removing the initial focus on your current / previous role titles.

NOTE: Everything within your CV must demonstrate relevance and value:

  • Which of your skills and achievements are relevant to the role you’re applying for?

  • Which will best demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the role?

Identify the key skills and experiences needed for the job you want to apply for.

Review the the job ad and any other details available. Highlight the skills and experiences they're looking for, any people attributes, etc - particularly anything stated as 'Essential'.

It's also a good idea to review the organisation's website at this stage to get a feel for the language they use, so you can mirror it.

Identify your skills, experiences and achievements that best match the role requirements.

For example:

  • You’re a Senior manager in an Operations department and want to move into an HR role where you’ll be business partnering with the Operations business unit. Think about when you’ve had to implement and respond to HR strategy and policies, and when you’ve worked with other business area leaders. what did you do, how did you do it, what was successful, etc?

  • You’re a Retail manager and want to move into Finance. What do you understand about budgets, accounting metrics and terms, company / department performance, reporting, etc? What have you done in these areas, what difference have you made to the financial performance of your branch or department?

Create your achievement statements.

For each achievement you identify, write a statement using the CAR model:

Challenge: What was the business problem to be solved or the opportunity to gain?

Action: What did you do?

Result: What was the outcome and benefit of your actions? How did it solve the problem?

Review the language you’re using. Are you using words and phrases that mirror the job ad / and the language used by the organisation? Are you highlighting your skills and strengths?

Draft a personal profile statement.

Tailor your Personal statement to the role you're applying for - every single time - by matching key words from the job spec.

Describe yourself factually, with statements that are relevant to YOU.

Ensure you have achievement statements for everything you say as you'll need to provide the evidence on page 1 of your CV.

For example:

You're a Senior Manager in Operations applying for an HR Business Partner role to work with the COO senior leadership team.

The job ad includes the following as ‘Essential skills’:

  • Experience leading and implementing change projects.

  • Stakeholder management.

  • Business and people focus.

  • Strategic thinking.

  • Inclusive leadership.

  • Collaboration.

Your personal statement may look like this:

A CIPD qualified Operations leader able to successfully lead and implement change projects through effective collaboration and stakeholder management.

Known for strategic thinking and inclusive leadership, I combine business and people focus to deliver results.

I'm looking for an HR Business Partner role where I can develop my HR career alongside applying my Operations leadership experience.

Create your Skills and Achievements section.

When making a career change, writing page 1 of your CV in the Functional or Skills, style enables you to highlight your transferable skills and achievements.

Create a heading for each of the Essential skills and tailor your achievement statements for each, selecting those that best show the value you’ll bring to the role.

Your Career History section.

On page 2 of your CV you’ll outline your career history, starting with your current or most recent role. You’ll continue to use CAR statements, adding relevant achievements not included in page 1.

Other sections.

Include (only) information that is of relevance and value to your application.

I hope this blog is helpful to get you started! I have a free download to help you write your Achievement statements - you can find it here.

If you'd like more help to create your CV for career change success I have a CV Confidence workbook that you can buy here and / or you can book a Focus session for CV Confidence coaching here.

Wishing you success with your career change!

About Karen Felton

Karen is a career mentor and strengths coach, enabling people to find work that makes them happy.

She has over 25 years’ experience in HR and Financial Services, leading teams, coaching and mentoring people, developing leaders and enabling people to achieve their career goals. She is passionate about enabling people to be their best selves so they can perform at their best in work and in life.

Learn more about Karen here

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