As a professional resume writer, I often get questions from friends and family members about the finer points of crafting the perfect document. While many people want to know whether you really need to list off your skills in a “core competencies section” (you do) others have more specific questions. Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about how to begin the resume writing process when you’re looking to switch careers.
For a person who has spent years in a particular field, it may feel nearly impossible to take that experience and translate it into an entirely different line of work. Fortunately, the right resume can show a potential employer how you can take your skills and knowledge and make a smooth transition into a new field. Here are some points to consider as you go about writing a resume with a career change in mind:
- Opt for a functional resume
While the traditional chronological resume is effective, it may not be the best way for you to demonstrate how your past experience will make you qualified for an entirely new position. Chronological resumes are meant to focus on your work history, but if you haven’t had a job in the career you’re pursuing, this style of resume can make you look underqualified. Instead, choose a functional resume that starts off by listing your skills and knowledge. It shifts the emphasis from your past work experience to the traits you possess that you could use in another work environment.
- Focus on skills
If you know that you have specific expertise that will benefit you in a new field, make sure to emphasize this on your resume. Though you may have obtained your knowledge of Photoshop or business development at another job, these skills are transferable and should get highlighted.
- Talk about any other relevant experience
Many people limit themselves when they only include their past work experience on their resume. Even if you haven’t actually worked in your newly chosen field, consider any and all types of experience that you’ve had that can help you make the switch. For example, you may not have worked for a PR firm yet, but if you did marketing for your favorite charitable organization, you have some PR experience. Don’t forget to list this involvement.
- Don’t include it all
Most resumes only include entries for jobs that were held 10 years ago or less. When you’re making a career change, you can get even pickier about what you list on the document. If you had a job that was completely unrelated to what you want to do in the future, consider omitting it in favor of placing a heavier emphasis on the traits and knowledge you have that would help you in a new field.
- Write with care
As you’re building a resume, consider how your document will look to a potential employer. If you’re going to omit past work experience, make sure that it doesn’t appear as if you were unemployed for a long chunk of time. Also, understand that some employers may have hesitations about a functional resume. While the document is legitimate, some hiring managers have been taught that they are created to cover up large gaps in employment. Though functional resumes are useful for those who are planning a career change, be prepared to answer some questions about your choice of layout.
While it may seem as though making a career switch is an impossible feat, especially when it comes to writing a high-quality resume, following these tips can help you show a potential employer how your past experience and skill set will benefit their company.
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