In 2018, Ladders launched a study to find out how recruiters examine resumes before they go on to interview a candidate. During the study they used advanced eye-tracking software to determine how much time recruiters spent reading each resume, and where recruiters looked.
This particular study showed that the average time spent looking at one resume was 7.4 seconds. Additionally, most recruiters looked at candidates' job titles (work experience). Further to this, the majority of successful resumes were well-structured, followed a clear formatting pattern and included the right amount of detail.
But, what should you do if you’re changing careers but you’ve never worked in the IT field before? Thus all your listed job titles may not seem completely relevant for the role you’re applying for. Yet, looking at your job titles (basically your work experience) is what recruiters are going to focus on when reading your resume. So, you’ve got to put something down.
It may seem very awkward and confusing but there are steps you can take!
Obviously, you need to list what jobs you’ve had in the past because it’s essential, but at the same time you need to craft a resume that suits the role you're applying for. You need to write a resume that focuses on where you want to be in your career, rather than where you were in the past.
In this article, we’ll share some tips with you to help you craft an impressive resume, even if you have little to no experience of working in the IT field.
Tip 1. State why you should be considered for the role
Stating why you should be considered for a role isn’t actually a required section on a resume, but many people choose to include it. Why?
It’s a very good section to add in because it gives you the opportunity to explain in a couple of sentences why you’re a good fit for the job. If you’ve never worked in the field you're applying to before it’s an excellent addition to put into your resume.
Plus, you can state why and how your unconventional background might help you in the new and different role.
Be brief, but highlight your applicable skills and knowledge.
Tip 2. Put your skills and education sections before your work experience section
As we already know, recruiters usually check job titles first according to Ladders (2018). This is basically a quick way of recruiters seeing what type of work experience you have.
If you’ve not got any work experience related to the field you’re applying to, give the recruiters something even more special to look at first. Show them the things that you can do, and courses you’ve completed to work in the IT field. Leave the weaker section to the end.
Imagine you’re applying for a QA testing position and you’ve been working as an accountant for the past 8 years. Recruiters will see a whole list of unrelated job titles in your work history section. But instead of starting off with irrelevant details, give the recruiter something they want to see.
Start by listing your relevant skills, like writing test cases or reporting bugs in JIRA. Try to avoid talking about very basic programs like Word. (It’s expected that all candidates know how to work with it.) Make sure you show them how your skills can be transferred to a new and different job.
After you’ve listed your skills, put down your education history in a new section. And don’t forget to list all the courses you have completed that are directly related to the role you are applying for.
Then put down your work experience.
Tip 3. Think outside of the box when writing about your work experience
So, by now you’ll have written a few sentences on why you should be considered for the role, you’ll have listed your relevant skills and told the recruiter about your educational background.
Here comes the tricky part — listing your work experience, when you’ve never actually worked in the IT IT field before.
There are several things to keep in mind here:
- Focus on your transferable skills. If you are changing your career path, there will inevitably be unrelated jobs in your work experience section. But instead of focusing on these try to talk about the skills you’ve developed, and the knowledge you’ve gained that can help you in a new role. Let's go back to our example about the accountant applying for a testing job. Instead of describing all of their duties at their previous jobs, this individual could highlight the soft skills they’ve learnt over the years that could be transferred into a testing position. Soft skills like the ability to meet deadlines or attention to detail are invaluable in testing.
- Understand that experience is not limited to paid jobs. Any real-world experiences count. So, don’t hesitate to include internships, volunteering, or any other personal projects you’ve worked on that showcase your skills and talents that are relevant for the IT role you’re applying for.
- Choose what to include and leave out the jargon. Describing everything you’ve ever done is not the best idea. If you’re applying for a job in tech, you don’t have to mention that you worked in McDonald's 20 years ago. This information isn’t relevant for recruitersrecruiters. Although, it’s important to avoid significant gaps, there isn’t anything wrong with leaving some things off your resume, especially if you’re a seasoned worker. So, rather than listing all your responsibilities and duties in previous jobs, stay focused on the career you’re about to start.
Tip 4. Customize your resume for each job opening
It doesn’t matter how well you’ve described your skills and experience, if you don’t use the right keywords in your resume, the chances of it ever being seen by a recruitment team are very low.
Why is this? It’s because many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automate their hiring processes.
Luckily, it’s not hard to make your resume ATS friendly. All you need to do is, read the job ad carefully and note down what skills are required. Look at your job experience and see where you’ve learnt these transferable skills, and then include them in your skills section.
You can also incorporate some of the job ad's language in other parts of your resume.
Tip 5. Add a cover letter
Even if a cover letter isn’t required, it’s a good idea to send a short one regardless.
In a cover letter you’re not limited by a standard resume format, so you can show off your personality, explain why you would be a perfect candidate for the role, and how your non-traditional background can be an asset for the business.
Getting a job in IT with no experience in the field can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. It’s vital that you present yourself in the best light possible, and show recruiters that you are competent and ready to learn on your resume.
Follow our tips, stay concise and focused, and you’ll be applying for your dream job in no time at all.