How To Write A Career Change Resume

Posted August 22, 2013, by Jo Messer

If you’re like most people, you’ll change careers at some point in your life, if not several times. Changing careers is exciting, but the difficult part is figuring out how to present your experiences in your resume, when your previous jobs don’t directly relate to the new roles you’re applying for.

Your resume is going to require a different approach, and here are some tips to help guide you:

Make a fresh start

Your resume may have been effective in your old industry but you’ll need a new and different resume now. Start from scratch, create a new document and ensure that everything that you include on your resume is tailored to the new industry.

Do your research

The best way to create an industry-specific resume is by reviewing current job ads and position descriptions. Look at the skills employers are looking for, and the language and terminology they use. Once you have identified the key skills/requirements then this will form the basis for preparing your new resume.

Tailor your resume

It’s essential that you customise your resume for every position, so that it clearly matches what the employer is looking for. You should include a Career Summary (or Professional Profile) at the beginning of your resume to establish who you are, what you have to offer and what you’re looking for, and it must be tailored specifically to the position you are applying for.

Focus on your transferable skills

The most important thing is to highlight your transferable skills that are relevant to the new job. When you change careers the focus should always be on your skills, rather than where you developed them. For example, if you’re moving from a retail customer service position to a call centre position, the focus needs to be on your customer service/sales skills, rather than on the product you sold.

Include only relevant experience

There is no need to talk about everything you have ever done in your working life and some things are better left unsaid. The saying ‘less is more’ certainly applies when you are changing careers. You may be incredibly proud of something you have done in the past, but it should only be included if it is relevant to the position.

Be flexible with layout

The terms chronological, functional and hybrid are commonly used when talking about resume styles. There are no set rules on how to format your resume and the structure you use will depend on your unique skills and experiences. However, the most relevant information should be the most prominent and should generally be on the first page.

Emphasise professional development

Include activities that relate to the role you are looking for, whether it be membership of a professional association, a seminar you attended or related volunteer experience.

Confidence is the key

The hardest thing about changing careers is feeling that you don’t have as much to offer as someone who is already working in the industry. If you want to convince employers to give you a chance you will need to sell yourself. It is important to remember that you have a lot to offer and sometimes employers are looking for people with a solid skill base who can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives.

If you’re struggling to write your career change resume, check out our hundreds of industry-standard free resume and cover letter templates!

Here’s how to write a cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd. 

Jo Messer

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