How to optimise your CV and LinkedIn for a career switch

Matt Glodz
How to optimise your CV and LinkedIn for a career switch

Use these CV and LinkedIn strategies to help with your career transition

During today's difficult economic situation, many applicants (especially those in fields such as hospitality, travel and leisure) have been left with no other option but to find roles in new industries.

Whether you find yourself in a similar situation or are simply looking to make a significant career change (such as jumping from finance to HR or from marketing to journalism), you probably realise that doing so can be quite a challenge.

The biggest obstacle?

You're competing against applicants who already have experience in the field, and you have none.

How do you optimise your CV to pass initial ATS screenings if you're applying for roles at large companies?

Then, once it gets into the hands of a human, will it convince recruiters to take a chance on you over someone with years of industry experience?

To help you make a smooth transition into a new sector, consider implementing the following strategies.

1) Highlight relevant experiences on your CV up front

If your latest position isn't directly relevant to the role you're applying for, you want to make sure recruiters understand that you would still be a good fit.

The best way to accomplish this goal is to incorporate relevant keywords at the top of your document.

When preparing your CV for a career transition, start by analysing the job descriptions for your target roles:

  • Print out the job descriptions for your target roles
  • Grab a highlighter
  • Highlight the skills and keywords that appear most frequently
  • Incorporate these skills into your CV

    You can weave the relevant keywords you identify into two main sections of your CV:

    Key Expertise Section

    Consider adding a "Key Expertise" section that simply consists of keywords pertaining to your target roles.

    We recommend including between 6-10 bullet points that focus on hard skills (or technical skills) specific to the role.

    Here, you can highlight any relevant skills you possess even if they were a relatively small component of your previous role.

    Your primary goal is to immediately show recruiters that you possess the necessary skills, preventing them from deeming your application irrelevant and moving onto the next candidate.

    However, this strategy will also help your document pass initial ATS scans.

    Work Experience Section

    In your "Work Experience" section, try to naturally include the keywords you identified in your bullet points.

    If you're looking to pivot from finance to HR, for example, make sure to highlight the HR-related components of your current role.

    Even though you worked in finance, you may have interviewed candidates for your department or represented your company at career fairs. Make sure to bring this up!

    Once you have updated your content, think about the order in which you present your bullet points as well.

    You'll want to prioritise the skills and tasks that are most relevant to your target role.

    2) Take professional development courses in your area of interest

    If you don't have any relevant experience in the field you are looking to enter, consider taking some online courses instead.

    By listing professional development courses on your CV, you'll be able to:

    1. Demonstrate that you have some degree of background knowledge
    2. Demonstrate your interest in the field
    3. Incorporate applicable keywords into your documents

    While many prestigious universities offer online certificate programs (think London Business School and Harvard Business School Online), you don't have to invest thousands of pounds to reap the benefits.

    Credible providers offering free courses in topics ranging from business to computer science to engineering include:

    • edX (courses from Oxford, Imperial College London, Harvard and MIT)
    • Coursera (courses from Imperial College London, UPenn, Google and IBM)
    • LinkedIn Learning (practical business courses)

    3) Make your case in your cover letter

    If you're looking to switch sectors, forget any advice you've heard about a cover letter being optional.

    In your case, it's non-negotiable. 

    Your cover letter is the single best opportunity you have to make your case - especially if you are applying with no internal connections at the company.

    Recruiters may be confused as to why you are trying to move from investment banking to marketing, to begin with. 

    Your goal is to give them comfort that you:

    • Are truly interested in the role
    • Have thought seriously about and are committed to your move
    • Know what you're getting yourself into

    Your cover letter allows you to share the reasoning behind your decision and provide additional examples of why you would be successful.

    4) Optimise your LinkedIn to align with your target role

    It's common for recruiters to overlook a profile if the skills listed do not match those required by the role they are looking to fill. 

    While we never recommend putting false information on your LinkedIn profile, you can take steps to align each section of your profile more closely with your target sector:


    When trying to pivot into a different sector, make sure to explain the transition you are looking to make in your LinkedIn summary.

    Why are you looking to move?

    What unique value will you be able to add as a candidate with no previous experience?

    Sometimes, bringing a fresh perspective can be an advantage!


    Update your headline to more closely align with your target positions instead of your career history.


    Add skills to your profile that are relevant to your target role to ensure that you appear in recruiter searches.

    If you're looking to pivot from finance to marketing, for example, think about removing skills such as "cash flow analysis" and adding "marketing strategy" instead.

    LinkedIn Skills Assessments

    Take LinkedIn Skills Assessments to prove that you do possess the abilities needed to succeed in your target role.

    These assessments are available for topics ranging from Microsoft Office to C/C++ to WordPress.

    In Summary

    If you want to make a major career change, you'll need to invest significant time into repositioning yourself as a candidate.

    Whether you're intentionally looking to pivot or the COVID crisis has forced you to do so, remember that you'll maximise your odds of a faster career transition by putting time into tailoring your CV and LinkedIn profile.

    About CV Pilots

    CV Pilots is an award-winning executive CV writing firm and a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

    As a professional services firm, we take your reputation seriously. We are committed to delivering writing excellence and superior service while operating with integrity and discretion. Recruitment firms we partner with also trust us to consistently deliver quality documents for their clients.

    Our writers have studied at top-tier universities and have strong writing backgrounds coupled with industry experience.

    Here's how we can help you:

    CV, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Writing Services: If you are looking for end-to-end support, hire one of our professional CV writers to rewrite your documents from the ground up. 

    Executive CV Template Downloads: If you plan to prepare your own CV, consider using one of our classic, ATS-friendly CV templates for Microsoft Word.

    To learn more about our services, book an introductory call with our founder here or email

    About the AuthorMatt Glodz

    Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of CV Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

    After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked for global companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

    At CV Pilots, Matt combines his solid business and writing background to craft CVs that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He has lived in the UK, US and Italy.

    Based in London, he currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing CVs for over 10 years.

    He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, The Times and Thrive Global.

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