When changing careers, you need a different resume-writing strategy.
If you’ve decided to start a whole new career, congratulations! While it’s not easy to break out of a comfort zone and start something new, having the courage to pursue your dream can be richly rewarding. In the case of changing careers, the journey starts with a single step: creating a resume tailored to your new career target. Starting from scratch can be daunting, so here are five steps you can take to start yourself off on the right track during your career change.
Step 1: Update your title
Often times, your professional title is the first thing on your resume after your name. “Chief Financial Officer” or “Executive Assistant” clearly let your prospective employer know the role you see yourself playing in their organization. It also strongly implies that you have fulfilled that role in the past. If you are transitioning to a new career, it can be misleading to title yourself a Chief Financial Officer on your resume if you have never actually been one. You can add the word “Objective” in front of your title to indicate that this kind of role is your goal but not necessarily a position you’ve previously held.
If you don’t feel comfortable putting your target title at the top of your resume, replace the traditional professional title with a “Qualifications Profile” and create a list of your strongest attributes that are applicable to your new job goals. Work the name of your target role into the first bullet point of your qualifications profile or professional summary.
Step 2: Craft a new professional summary
If you were applying for a job in your current field, this is where you would write a brief paragraph about what you’ve done and how you can benefit your future employer. When changing careers, however, you can use this space to highlight your most relevant transferable skills or educational credentials and indicate that you are seeking to leverage them towards whatever your target role is.
Step 3: Make use of keywords
Carefully review job descriptions for your target job. What kinds of skills are they seeking that you already have? Communication, vendor selection, negotiation, staff management, and development, for example, are all transferable skills that are highly desirable and not pertaining to any one industry. Make note of all your transferable skills that are prized in your new target industry and include those front and center.
Step 4: Highlight education and certifications
Sometimes when people are changing careers, they have educational backgrounds or certifications that suit them more to the position than their actual job history does. If this is the case, it is perfectly appropriate to place the education section before the professional experience section. This will direct the employer’s eye first to qualities that are directly applicable to the new job target and will work in your favor.
Step 5: Identify accomplishments
Finally, comb through your previous job history to identify the accomplishments that are most transferable to the new job. If you were staying in the same industry, you would want specific accomplishments that mirror the requirements of the new role. But when determining how to change careers, you may need to be a little more flexible to show your versatility.
Rest assured, no matter how dramatic a change you are making, your previous experience has not been in vain. By taking the steps above, you can best leverage your previous career to help launch you into a brand new one.
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