Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers, answers the first in a series of CV career dilemmas
Question: “I have been working in the not-for-profit sector for the last five years in a variety of admin and office roles. These were the only jobs I could get after graduating during the recession and I am passionate about getting into PR. I have recently gained my PRCA Foundation Certificate in PR. How can I tailor my CV for this career change?”
Most employers spend less than 30 seconds reading a CV, so you’ve got to get your message over quickly and powerfully. Great writing skills are an important part of many PR roles so you can bet that employers will be paying very close attention to the construction, presentation and content of your CV. You should use the skills gained in your career so far to your full advantage.
The key consideration for a career changing CV is which structure to use. Generally the less direct experience you have, the more you might steer towards a functional (or skills) based CV over the typical reverse chronological structure. An extended skills section allows you to show the reader how, where and when you have demonstrated the relevant and transferable skills. You can use examples from your current career, education or interests outside of work.
You should align the headings of the key skills section to a career in PR. These skills could be along the lines of communication, interpersonal, an understanding of media, presentation, problem solving or creativity. It is very likely that you will have been developing many of these skills in your current work so choose four or five skills headings you feel are your strongest and then describe two or three specific examples under each to illustrate your expertise.
The professional profile at the beginning needs to grab the reader’s attention. So clearly tell the reader of your ambition and the personal qualities you bring that will help propel your career within PR. Read the person specification of the job you are applying for and try to mirror what qualities the employer says are important. Your Foundation Certificate in PR should go next as this shows your determination to get into PR.
Everyone’s work history is unique, but it is definitely worth considering an extended key skills section as a way to help the reader bridge that gap between your expertise and what the employer is looking for.
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