Creating a CV for an Unplanned Career Change

3 minute read

There are a number of reasons you might be faced with an unexpected career change in your life. Right now, many of us are enduring a looming sense job uncertainty due to the economic upheaval of the Coronavirus, with an unprecedented number of businesses having to reduce their workforce and some having to shut down completely. The charity sector has by no means been spared, with many not-for-profit organisations struggling to reach the same level of funding as before. But that doesn’t mean the jobs don’t exist; it just means you need to do a bit more finessing to make it the front of the pack.

With the clock ticking, you need to get back on the job search—fast! The good news is, there are simple steps you can follow to help you create a strong CV so you’ll be able to land a new and exciting charity role in no time.

Creating a CV for an Unplanned Career Change

Use the job description to tailor your application

Once you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, you need to comb through the job description and familiarise yourself with the role. You should also highlight some of the keywords and desirable skills listed by the employer that relate to you. This way, you can pepper them throughout your CV and make it easier for the recruiter to see that you’re a good fit for the role.



Identify your transferable skills

When it comes to making a career change, you might not have much (if any) experience in your new chosen industry. But this doesn’t have to be an issue. When writing your new CV, start by identifying all the transferable skills that are going to help you excel in the role. For example, customer service, organisation and communication are all transferable skills you can apply to most roles—and they’re more sought after in the charity sector than you might think!

You should also consider transferable skills that may be specific to the sector you’re applying for. If you want to work for a charity, soft skills like empathy and tact are absolutely vital.

Creating a CV for an Unplanned Career Change

Be honest about your career change

You don’t have to be ashamed of making a career change, no matter what stage you’re at in your career. After all, you might have been made redundant through no fault of your own or perhaps you’ve finally plucked up the courage to pursue a job you’re passionate about.

Whatever the case may be, it’s OK to be honest about why you’re changing career paths. You might want to mention this in your personal profile. Just remember, never lie about why you’re making a career move as this could backfire on you at a later date.


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Shout about your achievements

One of the best ways to demonstrate your skills is to shout about your past achievements and quantify these where possible. These can help to show the employer how you’ve made a real difference in your previous roles, even if your last job isn’t related to your new career path. Some examples of how you could quantify your achievements could be:

  • I volunteered to oversee a team of 20 people at a fundraising event
  • I planned and oversaw an event of 150 guests
  • I exceeded my annual sales targets by 30% last year
Creating a CV for an Unplanned Career Change

Consider including sections for hobbies, interests and volunteering

Often people will choose to exclude a hobbies and interests section on their CV as it can take up valuable space and isn’t necessarily useful to the recruiter. That said, if you don’t have much experience in the industry but you take part in relevant hobbies or volunteer work, this can help to build your case.

For example, if you’re looking for a role in the charity sector and you spend your weekends walking dogs from the local kennels, this can work in your favour. Or maybe you got involved with the local food donation centre during the pandemic—that shows real character and plenty of valuable skills!



Don’t let an unexpected career change slow you down

Whatever your motivation may be, using our top tips can create a strong CV that is sure to help you land your next role—even if it’s a bit removed from what you’ve done in previous jobs. Remember, shouting about your transferable skills and past achievements is the ideal way to demonstrate to the recruiter why you’d be a good fit. And don’t be afraid to be honest! We’ve all been hit, by this pandemic, so it’s likely they’ll understand your motivations.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter and founder of CV and careers advice websites StandOut CV and Job description library, as well as being a regular contributor to sites such as CV Library, The Guardian and Business Insider.

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