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How to Create a Resume for a Career Change
Changing careers can be simple with just a few resume adjustments and a highly targeted cover letter.
Are you looking to change careers but not sure how?
Finding a job is hard enough as it is. The last thing you want is to use a resume that doesn’t work.
If your resume was recently used for sales jobs but now you are interested in finance, chances are the old resume will not be effective.
Creating a resume for a career change requires you to focus on transferable skills that may not be obvious with your current resume.
Your resume should scream “I am a great fit for this job!” Not, “I am changing careers and have very little experience!”
The good news is, this can be done in just a few simple steps which we will outline below. You may also consult with a professional resume writer for additional help.
Update Your Professional Summary Section
Your professional summary is one of the first things that recruiters or hiring manager will look at when reviewing your resume.
The purpose of the summary is to tell the reader exactly who you are and why you are a good fit for the position at hand.
If your summary says, “Senior Finance Manager with 10 years of experience managing multimillion-dollar business operations...”, most people will assume you are looking for finance positions.
If your summary says, “Results-driven sales professional with more than 10 years of experience as a top sales performer in the retail industry…”, most people will assume you are looking for sales positions.
When making a resume for a career change, it’s important to focus your summary on the job you are applying for. This means, even if you have 10 years of finance experience, this is usually not worth mentioning for a sales job.
Your resume summary should be hyper-targeted towards the job you are applying for. Rather than summarizing all of your experience to date, focus only on your relevant experience as it relates to the job.
Add Highly Relevant Skills
It’s important to show that you have some of the necessary skills for the job you are applying for.
Whether the job requires hard skills, soft skills, or both, you’ll have to list these in your resume to be considered for the job.
Just like the professional summary above, it’s important to focus on relevant skills for the job.
Bookkeeping, auditing, financial analysis may have been useful when applying to finance jobs. But for sales jobs, you are going to want to highlight a completely different set of skills.
Remember, your resume is not meant to be a full picture of everything you have ever done. It’s meant to be a partial picture of the work you have done that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
This can be easier said than done for career changers. Maybe you have zero relevant experience for the jobs you are applying for. If that’s the case, you will really need to dig deep to find transferable skills.
Some common transferable skills for a career change include:
- Industry experience
- Written/verbal communication
- Project management
- Team leadership
- Critical thinking
You can read more about how to leverage transferable skills during a career change.
Include Volunteer Work or Certifications
If you haven’t already noticed, the goal of a career change resume is to highlight your relevant experience for the job.
If you don’t have a whole lot of relevant professional work experience, you’ll have to focus on other areas. One way to gain experience is through volunteer work or courses/certifications. Reach out to your network and see if there are any opportunities to gain experience through volunteer work.
- If you are in IT, there are a variety of non-profits who would love some help with their website, infrastructure, etc.
- If you are interested in accounting, start volunteering to do your friends taxes.
You can also enroll in an online course. Online courses and certifications can add a ton of value to a career change resume.
If you are looking for Project Manager jobs, start studying for your PMP certification.
The great news is, you can add this to your resume as soon as you enroll. Just make sure to disclose that the expected completion is in the future.
For example: “Project Management Professional (PMP) – Expected 12/2020”
Do whatever you can to show relevant experience on your resume. Every little bit helps when you are changing careers.
Don’t Forget About the Cover Letter
Cover letters have become a questionable topic in the past few years.
“Do I really need to use a cover letter?” is a question that we hear regularly.
The short answer: it depends.
When it comes to changing careers, a cover letter is extremely beneficial. This is where the cover letter serves its purpose to the fullest.
The cover letter is designed to be additional information, not found on the resume, that can help sell you to the company of interest.
If you are applying to jobs that you have very little professional experience with, the cover letter is your opportunity to stick out from the applicants that may have more relevant work experience.
The cover letter is an area where you can express your passion for the specific company, explain why you are changing careers, and speak directly about why you will succeed in the role.
It allows you to get much more personal with the reader than your resume does.
While cover letters may not be necessary for someone with the perfect resume, they are absolutely crucial for career changers looking to break into a new field.
Changing careers can be a very rewarding decision. Make sure your resume is working for you to highlight your transferable skills.
As mentioned above, there are a variety of effective strategies to do this:
- Always remember to update your profile section.
- Add job-specific keywords and resume skills.
- Include volunteer work, courses, and certifications.
- Craft a compelling cover letter that sets you apart.
Do all of these things, and you will set your career change up for success.
About the Author
Mike’s career advice has been featured on sites like Inc., Zety, Motherly, Fast Company, and more. Mike is passionate about helping job seekers find fulfillment in their careers by breaking down job search barriers.