Careers advice

How do you write a CV for a career change?

Looking at a career change? Here’s how to tailor your CV.

Gone are the days when you took a job and stuck with it for life. Today, changing employers is common, and so too is industry hopping. In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic has displaced many New Zealand employees, and forced people to look outside their employment comfort zones.

However, taking the leap into a new sector is still daunting, and something that requires careful planning in order to be successful. Part of this is creating a good career change CV – and that’s what we’re here to nail.

Your mission

When looking at a new career, you can boil all your worries down to one simple problem – there are people out there with more direct industry experience.

This is the central issue that every aspect of your CV needs to tackle. Your mission is to convince the reader that your personal career trajectory, in fact, makes you exactly the person they’re looking for.

A career change CV should prioritise transferable skills and relevant experience.

How do you write a CV for a career change job?

The good news is you can still use a standard CV template when you’re changing careers – it’s the content, not the layout, that will count.

Two elements in particular take on a new importance – your personal statement and objective. We’re splitting these out here to explain the approach, but they will be read together on your CV as they should appear next to each other.

Career change CV personal statement examples

Traditionally, your personal statement is where you highlight your key skills. The only real change on a career change CV, is that you should turn the spotlight onto transferable skills that will catch the reader’s eye. You might also want to go beyond the two line length normally recommended.

Bonus tip: write the rest of your CV first, then come back to your personal statement. This should be your “Greatest Hits” from your working life, so going through your CV or Trade Me Jobs profile will help you pick out the best bits.

E.g. 1 Accountant to technical writer.

“I’m a highly experienced accountant with a passion for keeping up with the latest accounting tech trends. I have extensive experience working with common accounting software platforms such as X,Y and Z and assisting clients’ to use these tools in their financial reporting and data analysis processes.”

Here, the candidate is showing a good overview of their hard and soft skills, as well as indicating that they stuck with their former career for a while. This is important in dispelling any concern in the reader’s mind that you’re a serial career hopper.

In a career change CV you can expand your personal statement beyond the standard two line length.

E.g.2 Courier driver to warehouse and logistics.

“I’m a dedicated courier delivery driver with experience of working with some of NZ’s best-known delivery providers. As well as great customer service and interpersonal skills, I have a keen eye for detail, and am adept at managing both time and processes efficiently.

This displays a strong set of skills that will put the candidate in a good position for moving into their desired industry. It also shows they’ve got experience working with big players in the sector, which will help their CV stand out.

Career change CV objective examples

The next piece of the puzzle is your objective. This is your chance to show the passion you have for making this move, as well as mentioning any relevant past achievements that show your track record for success.

E.g. 1 Accountant to technical writer.

“After five years in accounting, I’m now looking to take my software knowledge, coupled with my client experience, into a technical writing role. This is something that has always greatly interested me, and I believe my unique combination of experience will allow me to create documentation that will help companies get more out of their accounting software.”

E.g.2 Courier driver to warehouse and logistics.

“I’m looking forward to moving into a distribution environment where I can draw upon my delivery experience to help boost operational efficiency. The conversations I’ve had with clients, coupled with my knowledge of the common roadblocks facing deliveries, mean I can provide fresh insights to improve processes.”

Both of these examples show the candidates provide something different to those who’ve perhaps followed a more standard progression within each of these industries. On top of this, there’s energy in both of these objectives, demonstrating a drive and desire to learn.

A good career change CV highlights your adaptability.

Adapting your employment history on a career change CV

While you’ve summarised your skills and experience in the personal statement, you still need to include an employment history section, as you would on your normal CV.

The important part is keeping it as relevant as possible – tweak the emphasis in past roles to highlight aspects that are closely aligned to where you want to go.

Key to this, is mentioning your transferable skills. Also known as soft skills, transferable skills are useful in any industry imaginable, and are highly sought after by employers. In particular, consider mentioning:

  • Adaptability.
  • Communication.
  • Resilience.
  • Problem solving.
  • Innovation.
  • Leadership.
  • Cultural awareness.
  • Growth mindset.
  • Emotional intelligence.

Don’t just include these as a list, but give real life examples of how you’ve used these soft skills in past roles. For example, communicating an idea to multiple stakeholders or showing resilience by bouncing back from difficult circumstances.

Warning! Be careful of jargon: if your CV is full of jargon from old jobs that doesn’t apply to the new industry, remove it. Similarly, make sure you fully understand any jargon relating to the new role before including it in your CV.

Listing education on a career change CV

Should I keep listing my education if it was relevant to my old job, but not the one I’m hoping to get?

Yes. You should always include an education section on your CV. Firstly, because this tells the employer you’re keen to learn, but also because you gain great transferable skills from education that apply in employment settings.

It’s also worth listing qualifications you’re in the process of working towards, if they’re relevant to the role in question. This will cement in the reader’s mind that you’re committed to make a success of your new career path.