8 Tips for Writing a New CV When Changing Careers, According to Experts

  • A new career can give you a better work-life balance or a job that better fits your interests.
  • Before changing careers, the first step is to update your resume.
  • Here are a few expert tips on how to ensure a smooth career shift.

It’s not uncommon for many to reach a point in life where they start wanting a change in their career.

You may have realized you have different expectations, different interests, or that you’re looking for a job that makes it easier to streamline your profession and your lifestyle.  

In difficult times when the labor market is tighter than usual, you may simply want to move to a career or sector that offers more job opportunities.

Whatever your reasoning, the idea of changing careers and starting from scratch in a new sector or industry can be exciting as it is daunting. 

To start with, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and pick up new skills and knowledge.

Woman with a mask looks at her computer screen where her resume is open.

In times when the labor market is tighter, you may want to move to a sector that offers more opportunities.

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The first step is to write a resume that suits a job where you wouldn’t be expected to have had any previous experience.

This shouldn’t put you off, however — in one way or another, everyone has started a job without any experience.

Applying for a job in a new field means you’ll be up against candidates who may have been in a similar role before.

This means your resume needs to be interesting enough that a recruiter will still want to meet you.

“In order to create an eye-catching resume that’ll help you stand out from the competition, you’ll have to look at all your experience and accolades in a different light,” career development expert Amanda Augustine told Insider. “You must evaluate your experience, education, and professional development and skills to determine what’s considered important for your new career.” 

Here are some tips to help you update your CV to make it effective if you’re thinking of changing careers.

1. Research your new field

If you’re entering a completely new sector, you may not have a deep understanding of how it works. 

This in turn can affect the “value” of your resume if you don’t know how to approach it properly.

Doing some research beforehand can help you find out about all aspects of your new profession. The best thing to do is to try to contact people who occupy the position you are interested in. 

Use the opportunity to ask them what you need to work in their position, what they would like to see on a resume, the most in-demand skills and knowledge in that industry, or specific terms that you should remember to include.

2. Learn the lingo

Another important aspect of your career change journey is to become familiar with the industry’s jargon — both to include it on your resume and to speak more fluently in a potential job interview.

shaking hands

Avoid superfluous detail in your resume; you’ll have time to expand in the interview.


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“Each industry has its own jargon — terminology and acronyms that only make sense to people who are familiar with the field. It’s your job to figure out how to translate your experience and past successes into terms that will resonate with your new target audience,” Augustine told Glassdoor.

To do this, she recommends subscribing to specific publications, following social networks in your new industry, and attending events that are relevant to your target field.

3. Identify your transferable skills

When you’re looking to change careers, this often means you have no previous experience. Rather than building on your experience in your existing CV, you’ll need to highlight your achievements, skills, or training.

To make your resume more attractive to recruiters in a change of sector, you should ideally identify and focus on  transferable skills, that is to say, those that are in general demand in all types of employment. Some examples include leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

Looking at the job vacancies you’re applying for can also give you an idea of what’s in demand so you can match the skills you’ve picked up in previous jobs to whatever you’re applying for.

To fill it out a little more, don’t forget that you can also include non-professional experience in your resume, as long as it enhances your profile as an ideal candidate.

4. Think about formatting

The usual CV format is chronological, listing experience from most recent to least. 

That said, this can work against you if you don’t have previous experience.

For this reason, some experts advise that when it comes to career changes you should opt for a functional resume, which is more focused on highlighting achievements and skills rather than on listing the places where you have worked.

13 resume example

Think about how you order and lay out your CV — make sure it includes clear headers, too.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider


“A word of caution: recruiters despise this resume format and most applicant tracking systems (ATS) have difficulty reading and parsing your resume’s information when it’s presented this way,” said Augustine.  

This could result in your application being rejected.

The best alternative is to go for a hybrid format, in which you place your skills more prominently (at the top), but still include your work history.

5. Include a mission

The resume purpose refers to a section, usually located at the top, aimed at explaining who you are through your skills, motivations, and interests. 

It’s quite similar to a LinkedIn statement.

This element can be important in your resume to grab a recruiter’s attention, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience. 

When writing it, try to draw on everything your previous career has given you to connect with your new field.

When deciding what skills to highlight in this part, check job offers and include some of the most sought-after skills for recruiters.

6. Avoid unnecessary information

A common mistake when writing a resume is to make it too long, to include irrelevant information, and scare off the recruiter who has to deal with hundreds of applications for one position.

If you want to change careers and don’t have masses of experience, you may fall into this trap by trying to explain in a thousand ways what you would otherwise be able to if you had a proven track record.

woman writing

Try to include a mission statement at the top of your CV.

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Concentrate on your career, think about what’s most relevant, and include only the highlights of each of your jobs. 

In the interview,  you’ll have time to expand on what you think is necessary.

7. Use hard facts rather than generalizing

Following on from the above, it’s essential to avoid vague explanations, replete with hackneyed terms about each of your jobs.

Consider demonstrating your skills and achievements with facts and figures.

8. Emphasize your education

As you move up the career ladder, your grades become less and less important on your resume.

That said, if you’re trying to get into a new profession, it may be worth highlighting your educational background if it helps you to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry.

For example, if you have specialized courses or a master’s degree in your future career, highlight this information at the top and then talk about skills and experience.