Your CV is likely to be the hardest-working personal document you’ll ever write.
Not only has it got to sprinkle multi-coloured glitter over your skills and achievements, it must command IMMEDIATE attention, as well as being perfectly tailored to every job you apply for.
Ideally, your CV will also inspire a healthy amount of self-confidence, showcasing you at your authentic and employable best.
So, if you’re considering a career change, then surely it’s best to begin with a whizzy, completely re-vamped CV?
Well… that depends.
In the years (almost 15 of them) that I’ve been writing CVs in exchange for money, I’ve found myself turning down the majority of requests from would-be career changers.
Reasons for this vary. Some have got no idea what they want to do next, while others asked me to wax lyrical about skills they wanted but didn't have.
Recently, I was asked to write a CV for someone who wanted to leave their corporate career to become a graphic designer. They’d taken a graphic design course and received good feedback, but they hadn’t yet done any design work.
“I was hoping a new CV would give me the confidence I need to start looking for the jobs I want,” they told me, hopefully.
But since CVs tend to focus on the past rather than the future, that would have been unlikely.
Instead, I gently suggested that they build up some confidence by starting a creative portfolio, perhaps mining their contacts for people who might be in need of some design work… or if they aren’t, do they know someone who is?
Take a Creative Approach to Job-Hunting
As a seasoned career-changer myself, I know that the process often involves straying away from conventional job application routes, as those tend to be too prescriptive.
Think of all those job descriptions that specify a certain amount of experience… no matter how amazing your CV happens to be, you’ll be going up against countless other people who have done that job before.
And most of the time, stressed HR managers with over 100 CVs to plough through every morning (I’ve been there!) are going to favour the experienced candidates. Time is pressing, they need to pick the right people, and experienced candidates meet the brief.
That's why a more creative approach could involve researching companies you’d like to work for, then contacting the person you’d be reporting to - not HR - with a personalised letter that explains why you want to work there, and what benefits the company will get in return.
(I know from experience that managers love being the person who discovered the next company superstar… plus it’s flattering to be approached directly.)
Freedom from the Confines of Your CV
Before I changed career, my CV described a person I didn’t want to be anymore. It felt like a cage I was desperate to escape from.
But for me, freedom meant digging a tunnel from the inside, rather than trying to force the bars open.
In other words, I didn’t start work on a new CV until I had some writing achievements under my belt, and until I could prove that people would pay for my writing skills.
By all means, do a skills audit using your current CV. Look at where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go… then have a go at connecting some dots.
But you may find that making a successful career change may mean bypassing your CV altogether…
…at least for now.