How to Build Your Career Change Resume

Changing your career can be an exciting time, but you might not know how to properly market your skills to employers in your new industry. When building your career change resume, use it to show how you are the ideal candidate for the job.

Identify Transferable Skills

As you are changing professions, you may find that many skills are transferable between jobs. When you’re writing your resume, read the descriptions of the jobs you are applying to. Compare skills specifically mentioned by employers to the ones you have listed in your current resume. Do any of your current skills apply to your new career path?

Listing your transferable skills isn’t just a way to show that you’re capable of working in a new industry. They can actually help your resume rise to the top. Many companies use an applicant tracking system, which is an automated human resources tool that scans resumes for keywords. A system identifies candidates who are qualified for the position. Using these keywords on your resume helps keep it from being overlooked.

Determine what skills are common in your new career and previous roles. For example, if you were a veterinarian, you may have experience providing excellent customer service skills, determining a plan for patients, and communicating treatments to pet owners. When you’re transitioning into a business manager role, you will also need to communicate with customers, provide superior customer service, identify issues and implement solutions for them.

Avoid Jargon

Jargon (noun): the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group.

– Merriam-Webster

When you have been in an industry for a long time, jargon can become natural to you. However, it can confuse hiring managers in your new industry since many terms won’t apply to their field. Instead, you should explain your job titles, responsibilities, and achievements in a way that anyone can understand them. If you are able to, you can also translate them into your new industry’s language.

Format Your Resume

As you write your career change resume, you should determine which format to use. A functional resume may be ideal for when you’re transitioning into a new career. This format focuses on your skills and experience rather than where and when you worked. It also highlights the most relevant parts of your work. For example, a functional resume can detail how your customer service, problem solving, and communication skills are relevant to the role of a business manager instead of simply listing all of your past veterinarian positions, which are not directly applicable to your new career.

Another option is the chronological format. Perhaps the most common resume configuration, this lists your most recent experience to your oldest. On the other hand, a combination format can be useful for a career change resume. Also known as a hybrid resume, it combines the functional and chronological formats without necessarily giving priority for one over the other.

Your Objective or Summary Statement

At the top of your resume is the objective or summary statement. Showcasing what makes you the right candidate, this section explains how your past experience has given you the skills you need to succeed in your new field and career. Mention any of your relevant experience and credentials, listing the most important skills you will bring to the job with the keywords you identified earlier.

Skills

Your resume’s skill section should highlight the soft and hard skills you have that are required for the job, along with the transferable skills you established when conducting job research.

  • Soft skills: These are your personal attributes. They may include communication, time management, organization, or problem solving skills. If you have no clue as to what soft skills you have, you can ask your friends and family to describe you.
  • Hard skills: These are your technical skills, such as programming languages, computer software programs, and foreign languages. You should list these prominently on your resume if you notice that the job description specifically calls them out. Also, you should include your proficiency level for them.

Hiring managers tend to scan through resumes, so if you don’t showcase relevant skills or familiar roles, your resume will probably be put off to the side.

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Experience

In the experience section of your resume, you should focus less on your duties and more on the skills you acquired and used in your previous roles. Demonstrate how those skills apply to your new career. Additionally, mentioning any of your certifications or formal training can be a good idea if you cannot think of any transferable skills.

You also want to quantify any of your past achievements. Did you manage the budget at your veterinary office? Explain how you might have cut costs. For example, say that while working with a $100,000 budget, you cut costs by 15 percent.

Education

Chances are that if you’re changing careers, your educational background isn’t as big of a selling point as your skills and work experience. Therefore, this section can be placed at the end of your resume. You can also mention any coursework that is relevant to your new industry, along with any academic achievements.

Additional Tips for Building Your Career Change Resume

After you have crafted your career change resume, wait a day or two before going through and checking your spelling and grammar. This way, you will have a fresh set of eyes and are more likely to catch any errors. Make sure all proper nouns, such as company names, are capitalized correctly and that any contact information for your references is current.

You can also have a friend or family member read your resume. They can give you suggestions on what you should or should not include and may catch errors that you missed during your own review.

Taking the Next Step

While changing your career, ensuring that your resume is relevant to your new field is crucial. With a resume that properly showcases your skills and knowledge, you can put your best foot forward in your job search. Along with your career change resume, tailoring a cover letter can further help you stand out in the pile of applications.

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