Example CVs and cover letters: Career changer

This example CV and cover letter is for someone who's looking to change their career, and making a speculative approach.

Who's applying for the job?

Louise Hunter has been working part-time in a supermarket for the past two years whilst raising her children. Now they’re in school, she’s got more time and is keen to move away from retail.

She’s always been interested in working in administration but didn’t leave school with a lot of qualifications. She doesn’t want to go back to education, and is looking for an entry-level position to get started.

Working in retail has given her great customer service skills. She’s used to working under pressure, and as part of a team.

She’s also used to dealing with challenges like difficult customers and issues with pricing.

What's the job description?

The role would cover:

  • Customer service
  • Managing insurance claims
  • Dealing with client enquiries
  • Supporting recruitment
  • Organising staff training and tracking completion

You must have:

  • Strong organisational skills
  • Customer service experience
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet targets
  • Good attention to detail
  • IT skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team

Introduction

Start your cover letter with a polite greeting. If you know the name of the person who your application is going to, use this. If not, you’ll be safe to stick to ‘Dear Sir/Madam.’

Explain what you’re here for – applying for a job. Add in a one-line descriptor of who you are and what you’re about.

e.g.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m writing to apply for a job at Direct Line.  

A dedicated and committed individual, I have many years of customer service experience.

Motivation

Explain why you want to work in this job, and what you’re currently doing.

As you’re looking to change career, it would be good to describe what’s motivating you to do so.

E.g.

'Currently employed as a cashier at Asda, I’m looking to broaden my horizons and embrace new challenges.

I believe that working in insurance will be rewarding and enjoyable. As my children are now in school, I’m looking to work full-time hours.

I’ve long wanted to work in an administrative role. I’m organised, and have a real eye for detail. I think I’d have a lot to offer.    

I’m a quick learner, conscientious and hard-working, and would consider myself an asset to any team.

You’ll see from my CV that I’ve gained a broad range of skills over my years working in retail.'

Conclusion

Close with a polite, positive message that reiterates your enthusiasm and desire to work within the role.

It might also be worth specifically mentioning why you’d like to work for that particular employer – e.g. you admire the values of the organisation.

This shows that you’ve taken time to investigate what the company is about and aren’t just sending out a generic application.

E.g.

‘I feel that working for this organisation would be a positive learning experience for me, as I believe that I would be presented with opportunities to learn more about insurance and build on my current customer service skills.

My CV is attached, and my references are available upon request.

I look forward to hearing from you, and I appreciate any opportunity to take my application further.

Thanks,

Louise’

C.V.

When you’re writing your CV, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

The key thing to do here is to think about the skills you’ve developed within that job that can be transferred into the role you’re applying for now.

Think broadly, and outside of the box. Communication, teamwork, cash handling, organisation – all of these are skills which are applicable and valuable in many jobs.

Also, mention personal qualities like dedication, commitment and ethics.

If you’ve got a strong attendance record, bring it up. List the duties that you currently undertake and articulate what you’d have to offer in this job.

Profile

Start your CV with a profile - this is just a few sentences about you and your qualities. 

Eg 'Dedicated and hard-working, I’m a strong team-player and good communicator.

Working in retail has helped me to learn how to work under pressure, develop problem solving skills and to use my initiative. I have learned how to cooperate with others, lead a group and be approachable for other team members and customers.

Part of the team for six years, I’m looking for a new challenge.'

Skills

It’s good to include a list of key skills that you have. And if there are ones that are mentioned in the job description, then be sure to reference these within your CV.

  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Organisation skills
  • Time management
  • Confident using IT
  • Customer service skills
  • Adaptable
  • Teamwork skills

Experience

Give a short summary of previous work experience, responsibilities and skills that you have gained.

E.g.

Asda                                                                               September 2013 – present

Sales Assistant

Currently, I’m employed as a retail assistant at Asda. As part of my day-to-day role, I organise and replenish stock, serve customers and handle complaints and enquiries. Organising, checking and arranging stock. Answering customer enquiries and handling complaints both via telephone and face-to-face. I was also responsible for training and supervising new members of staff.

National Semi-conductor                                           August 2000 – May 2005

Factory operative

Previously, I was employed as a factory operative at National Semiconductor. I constructed and checked computer parts, and also trained new members of staff.

Hobbies and interests

It’s good to mention hobbies that you have as this shows some additional skills and your commitment. It’s better to mention activities and sports you enjoy –  keep it appropriate.

E.g. 

'As a person, I’m athletic and competitive – I am a member of an amateur running club and have taken part in two marathons. I’m also a busy mum and have three children, all in school.'

References

This is someone who the employer can contact for confirmation that you're the right person for this job.

One of these should be your current or most recent employer. The other could be a previous employer, someone you have done volunteer work with or a former colleague.

You should always ask someone’s permission before giving their details.