By Brian Fairbanks
If you’re thinking about a career change, you probably need to change your resumé too, especially if it’s been a year or longer since you updated it. In today’s internet age, the look, feel and content of a resumé have evolved. Most resumé formats and resumé templates are outdated or could hurt your job prospects in some way. You usually have only one chance to make an impression, so you want to make it a good one.
When it comes to highlighting transferable skills and experience in your new career-change resumé, here’s where to start.
Before you start writing or rewriting a resumé, do your homework on your next career field. Each industry or profession has its own norms and expectations when it comes to skills, experience and training.
For example, does the field that interests you prioritize experience or specific training courses that you should feature in your skills section?
Due diligence is key, according to Steven Starks, senior manager of career advising at University of Phoenix. "Research online job postings to identify the knowledge and skills employers require," he says. "Additionally, talk to at least three people in the role you’re targeting to understand what the job is really like, including the people, projects and performance metrics it encompasses.
"Then, reflect on your experience to pinpoint parts of your background that directly match or strongly relate to your desired role. This may come from work history, volunteer activities or education."
From there, you may also consider starting to work with a career advisor and some resumé templates to build your resumé. You’ll probably end up using one of three types of resumé formats:
Since the where and when may not be relevant or make you appear unqualified and/or inexperienced, it can be helpful to bypass such restrictions. This type of resumé also puts the focus on your finest achievements in related fields. It highlights relevant work you’ve done, as well as your transferrable skills.
For example, if you are going from the education world to IT, you may want to highlight how you used technology to manage class schedules, troubleshoot problems or propose solutions on a daily basis. Or you could mention that you tutored students in technology or even taught computer classes.
It’s important, too, to note what other people in your industry use for their resumés, both in terms of style and content. If you can review a current resumé from your industry, especially from someone who recently used theirs to land a position in your field of interest, you may be able to learn from it. Even if it’s just a matter of helping you select the formatting.
When you’re ready to start typing, remember the following:
As TheBalanceCareers.com notes, "If you're in publishing, the CMS is the Chicago Manual of Style; if you work online, it's your Content Management System; and if you're in healthcare, it's the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services."
Click on the image to download our career changer resumé sample.
If you do use a resumé template, make sure it’s from a trusted and experienced career resource. Otherwise, open a blank Word document and start with your name in large, bold text at the top. Add your essential contact information (phone number, email and city of residence) directly below that.
After your contact information, you might want to write a couple of key phrases. For instance, if you’re in social media marketing, you might say: "Brand Messaging & Strategy — Data & Analytics — Stakeholder Engagement." Follow that with a one-sentence overview of what you bring to the table (e.g., "Successful online marketing tactician positioned to …").
Then, under that, take a similar approach with your skills ("Content Marketing, Web Design, Email Newsletters & Marketing," etc.).
From there, skip a line and start a new section called "Experience," and list your jobs starting with your most recent one and working back to the oldest relevant position.
Career advisors can also support a career-change resumé. Typically job-hunting experts, they can bring a razor-sharp focus for detail as well as insider knowledge of the business world and specific industries. Moreover, they can provide a fresh perspective on your resumé, cover letters and job postings. Their job is to provide a steady guide and be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.
A career advisor can also be a good resource for interviewing. They can help by offering advice or conducting a mock interview. As with a mock trial or debate, doing a low-stakes run-through of an interview can work wonders for your preparedness and self-confidence.
"Career advisors can help you identify accomplishments from your work history and offer an objective, fresh perspective on the strengths you bring to the table," Starks says. "Oftentimes, job seekers struggle to recognize the positive impact they’ve made in the workplace. Perhaps they’re too modest or simply can’t remember. By asking thought-provoking questions, career advisors can help you draw out these details from your career story and convey it on your resumé."
Starks adds: "Career advisors can also help you structure and format your resumé. They can highlight strengths that are most relevant to your employment goals. They also understand strategies to optimize your resumé for applicant tracking systems. Employers use tracking systems to manage applications and automate candidate screening. Moreover, a career advisor can help you understand that a resumé is just one element of a comprehensive career-change strategy. They can help you identify other critical steps to the career-change process, including networking, upskilling and personal branding."
All skills matter, but transferable skills are arguably the most valuable.
"A transferable skill is any learned ability that can be leveraged or ‘transferred’ from one job to another," explains Starks. "Some skills, like communication or problem-solving, are nearly universal to any role. Career changers must focus on those that are highly relevant to their current job target. They need to share specific examples of how they’ve used these skills. It helps employers see the parallels between their past experiences and the needs of the role to which they applied."
Changing careers may not be easy. With the right tools and mindset, it can lead to a future aligned with your interests and goals.
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