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Ten Tips for Writing a Career Change Resume

Nov 17, 2022
Ten Tips for Writing a Career Change Resume

Most people change direction at least once in their lives. Sometimes a change of profession happens on its own, caused either by the emergence of a new dream or the need for a new challenge.

Whatever the reason for changing your career, it is essential to understand the old methods that helped you get a job a few years ago no longer work—a complete reset is needed. In this case, you must consciously approach the very process of finding a job when moving into a new field. Before you create a new resume that will sell your experience and competencies, taking into account the requirements dictated by the modern job market, familiarize yourself with the current situation.

A resume is a brief self-presentation. It is a document that contains basic information about your work history, skills, education, and certifications or completed courses. 

Many organizations require resumes from candidates. The recruiter conducts an initial selection by reviewing submitted resumes and then decides whether to send candidates on to the next stage. This means it’s critical to pay attention to ensure that all resume details are correct. For serious positions, the smallest nuances are essential. Even a simple typo can cause the recruiter to view an applicant as inattentive or sloppy.

1. Take the time to prepare and start researching.

Before writing a career change resume, explore the new field you’re interested in. Research companies and jobs and learn about the skills, education, and experience employers want in candidates. While you gather information about the job requirements in the new field, you can analyze how well your qualifications match them: what qualities and skills you already have and which ones you still need to acquire or strengthen.

2. Choose the right resume format.

A big part of creating an effective career change resume is choosing the proper format to tell your story. In addition, you should structure your resume to best showcase your skills and experience.

There are two resume formats suitable for those who want to change careers: combined and functional. 

When it comes to changing your career, a combined resume format works best. This format places equal emphasis on skills and required work experience. This means you will be able to show you have the necessary industry skills, even if you don’t have work experience in the new field. At the end of your resume, you should briefly list your experience in reverse chronological order and describe (without details) job responsibilities not directly related to the new position.

3. Focus on skills.

There are different categories of professional skills, but they fall into two main types: hard and soft.

  • Hard or technical skills are purely professional skills that are acquired with experience from performing a task. Hard skills can include mastering a computer program, a programming language, or a foreign language, depending on your profession.

  • Soft or universal skills are non-specialized qualities that help in the work process. Examples of such universal competencies are sociability, creativity, and the ability to work in a team.

Make a list of professional skills that will be most interesting to an HR manager and include them in your career change resume. Remember that in every job, you also learn soft skills that can be applied to a different position or a new field. Every hiring manager is looking for candidates with the ability to solve problems, lead, be a team player, manage time well, and communicate effectively.

When the labor market is crowded and dozens or even hundreds of people are applying for one job, the employer is looking for an applicant with specific technical experience in order to spend a minimum investment in training. With high demand, hard skills are prioritized.

But don’t forget that an employee is a whole person. You can learn a program well, but if you can’t work in a team or show self-organization and desire to develop in the position you have received, it is unlikely you will be retained in the company for long. Universal non-specialized qualities are also important for productive work.

4. Highlight overlapping skills.

Carefully choose which skills from your past career to add to your career change resume. For example, a former editor does not need to write about marketing skills in their developer's resume, but it is worth mentioning the skill of working in a team. If you are afraid your resume will look completely empty, leave some irrelevant skills, but try to include those that have at least a tangential connection to the new field.

5. Show your motivation.

A person who radically changes a job is often a mystery to HR. Is the person an adventurer, an inept employee, or just a person who suddenly realized their calling? Your resume should prove that you belong to the last type of candidate.

Your resume should reflect your great desire to work in a new field. Pay special attention to the "about yourself" column. Think over the text for it well.

Be sure to explain what attracted you to the new field so much that you decided to move into it—and more precisely, this particular position. This is not just a formality; employers want to hire truly motivated employees. Newcomers who move into a new profession are usually enthusiastic, and this is their competitive advantage.

6. Add courses and trainings.

Having relevant certificates and licenses in your resume is a great way to attract an employer's attention.

Documents confirming your qualifications and knowledge will show that you own your business, are capable of self-development, and will provide value to the company in the future.

Certificates and qualifications confirm that you are dedicated to your work and passionate about it—after all, you used your time for learning and development. You can use these skills in your work. Even if certifications are optional, having them on your resume will help you stand out as a suitable candidate for the position.

For some vacancies, having certain licenses is mandatory. If you want to apply for a position that requires a license and you have it, be sure to include it in your career change resume.

Also, be sure your career change resume includes the additional education you received in preparation to move into a new field. This demonstrates you are taking advantage of every opportunity to develop the necessary skills. For example, if you are an accounting assistant and want to become a graphic designer, include examples of your work on your resume and list the software courses you have taken. This shows you are serious about mastering a new profession.

7. Shorten your resume.

It isn’t necessary to list all the places you’ve worked unless they are directly related to the vacancy. Your task is to demonstrate the competencies with which you can successfully cope with new responsibilities, and for this, you must get rid of the ballast—excess work experience. Focus on relevance, not quantity.

8. Write a compelling cover letter.

Having a standout cover letter is important for a candidate to make a good impression on the hiring manager, and it’s also an excellent opportunity to convey essential information about their professional skills and the contributions they can make to the company.

Remember that you will be competing with candidates with relevant experience for this position. As a result, you’ll need to convince HR managers that your experience, although not directly related to this job, is nevertheless suitable for their company and industry.

9. Check for mistakes.

After the document is drawn up, it is advisable to check it for accuracy and readability. Experienced HR managers do not recommend:

  • making spelling or punctuation errors

  • indicating several positions of interest at once (instead, specify your goal)

  • using jargon and professional terms

  • attaching an irrelevant photo

  • deceit or overestimating the recruiter's expectations

  • stretching the resume for more than two pages

If necessary, you can attach a letter of recommendation. However, even just a resume, when filled out according to the rules and our recommendations, will be enough. Reread your career change resume the next day to double-check it with a fresh set of eyes.

10. Use a resume template.

When you write a resume, you don’t need to water it down or underestimate your abilities. Instead, you need to be as objective and honest as possible. In any case, during the interview, the HR manager will double-check the information. Your task is to draw their attention to your profile. 

Each position may have its own required set of skills. Some professions require stress resistance, others require communication skills, and others require public-speaking skills. Start with the vacancy that interests you. Here you can find resume samples for any occasion and career:

Concluding Thoughts

Keep in mind only a few candidates are ever a 100 percent match for the desired position. Many employers prefer to hire people who are 70%–80% fit but exude enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Therefore, focus on showing your strengths and capabilities in the most convincing way.

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