How to write a career change CV

middle aged business woman holding a cv


Changing careers in mid-life is becoming increasingly common. A recent survey by found that around half of respondents are looking to change sectors in the near future and 38% have retrained in the past three years.

But how do you tailor your CV to make an impact in a new sector where you have limited experience?

Key features of a Career Change CV

1. Professional Profile

The overall structure of a career change CV is no different, and should start with a professional profile. This is your first opportunity to make a good impression, so use it to set out your professional goals and your key attributes.

Explain briefly your current position and skills and what you’re hoping to achieve. Be overt and open about your career change aspirations and why you’re pursuing a new direction.

Here’s an example of a professional profile on a career change CV:

Organised, results-driven and personable sales manager looking to apply exceptional communication and influencing skills – plus new qualifications – with [Company] as a mortgage advisor.

Make sure that you use keywords from the job description, to confirm to the recruiter that you have the characteristics they are looking for.

2. Key Skills section

When you’re changing career paths, the Key Skills section of a CV is one of the most important parts to get right.

Some of the most sought-after skills are ones you probably already have. According to LinkedIn, communication, customer service and leadership are the most desirable skills to employers. The key is to demonstrate how you can apply your existing skills in a new sector or role.

List out the transferable skills and abilities that you’ve picked up throughout your career and cross reference these with the requirements of the job ad you’re applying for.

As with any CV, you need to give examples of how you have applied those skills, which you can do in the ‘Career Summary’ section of your career change CV.

3. Career Summary: option 1

There are a few ways to present your Career Summary on a CV when changing careers.

The traditional approach for a CV is a chronological career summary, where you list your most recent job first and work backwards.

This can still be effective if you focus on how each role has prepared you for your career change. Leave out any specific achievements that aren’t relevant to your new field.

4. Career Summary: option 2

The other option is to divide the career summary into two sections: ‘Relevant Work Experience’ and ‘Other Work Experience’.

In the first section, detail any experience that is relevant to the new position, even if it wasn’t your most recent role. It might include voluntary work or jobs you had earlier in your career.

The other work experience section covers all of your positions, making it clear there are no gaps in your work history.

With this layout, the recruiter can see more clearly how well you are suited to the role.

5. Cover Letter

While not strictly part of your CV, a cover letter is essential when you’re pursuing a career change. It’s your chance to build a little rapport with the recruiter and expand on why you want to move into a new career, and why you’re the right fit for this role.

Start by explaining why you are changing careers. There’s no need to go into too much detail, just give a flavour of what inspired you to choose this new professional path.

Again, reference your previous experience, link it to the job description and explain what you could bring to the role.

Stay positive through your career change

Ultimately, you have chosen this new direction. You believe you will be good at the new role, you have transferable skills and you’re seeking a positive new direction.

The good news is that because changing careers is becoming so commonplace, employers increasingly welcome recruits from other disciplines. Diversity is well known to improve productivity, so having a fresh perspective – combined with life experience and learnings from your previous career – is something that many organisations find very valuable.

That said, it may take a few more applications to find the perfect role, so stay resilient and give every opportunity your full attention and effort.

For more advice, see Should you put your age on your CV?, how to ace an application form and How to prepare for a video interview.

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