When you make the difficult choice to look for a job in a new industry, it’s important to write a career change resume.
Your old resume, tailored to your old career, won’t suit your new field. For your job search to succeed when you make a career change, you have to make sure that your resume is tailored to the right positions and highlights the right skills.
Important steps for creating a career change resume include:
Anyone can reach a crossroads in their profession and decide that it's time to make a change. Maybe you've developed new skills, run out of opportunities, or realized that your current career doesn't motivate you like it once did. Whatever the reason, if you want to change jobs, you will need to know how to write a resume for a career change.
A career change resume is a resume for a job-seeker who is leaving one industry and entering another. It highlights the experience that is relevant to the new field, and the skills that are transferrable to future roles. A career change resume is similar to a typical resume, but it is tailored to suit jobs that are different from the previous positions listed in the resume.
With the right tweaks and changes, you can easily turn your existing resume into an effective career change resume.
For example, identifying your transferrable skills is an important part of writing a career change resume. If you’re attempting to transition into a new industry, you will need to research what skills you will need in future jobs, and demonstrate in your resume that your previous roles have prepared you with transferrable abilities.
Further, your career change resume should de-emphasize irrelevant job skills, unless they're very impressive and showcase your quality as a candidate.
Your education is another important source of transferrable skills. Consider all of your degrees, diplomas, or other certificates and brainstorm the skills you developed as you studied. If you have relevant academic experience, it's essential to highlight those credentials.
Even hobbies and memberships could be an asset to your career change resume. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting position, your role as treasurer for your local lawn bowling club would be perfectly relevant.
It’s important to write a career change resume when you’re looking to enter a different industry because your resume must be customized to suit the jobs you want, not the job you have.
Your old resume is tailored for the wrong jobs.
Your resume should always target the job you’re applying for. This means that the details you emphasize throughout your work history, education, skills, achievements, and summary must match your new industry.
While your current career experience is important and impressive, it may not be enough to convince a hiring manager that you are the right person for the job if you don’t know how to emphasize the right details in your resume.
A resume for changing careers needs to clearly identify transferrable skills and experience from previous positions in order to be successful. This will ensure that when hiring managers read your resume that they can understand that while you might not have directly related experience in the same field, you have relevant skills, varied experience, and can thrive in the position.
Like any resume, a career change resume requires the right resume format, a professional resume template, and clear organization. However, a career change resume also needs to be tailored and focused on transferrable skills to make a real impact.
Here are the steps you should take when writing a resume for changing careers.
There are three resume formats that you can consider for a career change resume.
We recommend using a combination format for a career change resume. This resume format allows you to showcase your skills while maintaining a clear timeline of your career.
To write a combination resume, create a Skills section near the top of your resume, above your Work Experience section. This is where you can highlight and explain your most impressive and most relevant skills. Your Skills section will be the focus of your resume, as this section is where you can make the case for your skill set, even if your past positions were in a different field.
Your Work Experience section will follow your Skills section. This section can be shorter than in a typical reverse-chronological resume, with less detail than your Skills section, but it should still have a clear timeline. Even if you are changing industries, hiring managers will be interested to see how your career has progressed. A reverse-chronological work experience section allows you to clearly tell that part of your story.
Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules. You can use a typical reverse-chronological resume format if you prefer. Just make sure you can highlight the right skills and experience for your new industry.
Any resume for changing careers needs a great template.
Your resume won’t do you any good if it’s difficult to read, no matter how well-targeted your skill set is. Make sure your resume is easy to read, with simple organization and clear headings.
Additionally, ensure that you choose a resume template suited for the industry you want to work in. If you want to move into a more formal industry, like law or accounting, find a traditional resume template with simple formatting and no colours. If you are moving into a more creative field, like marketing or design, you can look for a more modern template, with pictures or colours.
To find the perfect resume template for your new career, check out these VisualCV resume templates.
Your career change resume should begin with your name and contact information. The hiring manager needs this information to contact you, so you should make it easy to find.
Your resume should include:
You can also include hyperlinks to your professional online profiles, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. If you’re applying for a software development position, you can link to your GitHub profile. If you are moving into a creative field, you might have an online portfolio to link to.
You may also want to include a headline or job title in this section. However, if you are changing careers, this could confuse the hiring manager. Avoid using a job title that isn’t supported by your resume.
An excellent Summary section is essential. Hiring managers only spend a few seconds scanning each resume, so you need to find a way to impress them right at the top of the page.
Your summary should quickly establish that you are changing careers and highlight some key achievements and skills that apply to your new industry.
In no more than a few sentences or bullet points, demonstrate that you are a skilled professional with impressive experience under your belt, and emphasize the aspects of your skill set that will transfer to new roles.
Avoid jargon and abbreviations, even if they are obvious to people who work in your previous industry. It’s important that hiring managers in your new industry can easily skim this section.
Former Marketing Specialist moving into a Project Manager position having completed CAPM certification. Dedicated, innovative individual with over 10+ years experience in digital marketing. Managed several marketing campaigns with budgets of over $500,000, partnering with sales and creative teams to complete projects on time. Two years experience managing a team of 5 people and liaising with C-Suite executives to establish goals for marketing projects.
Your Skills section is the key to your career change resume. Your past roles may not be directly relevant to positions in your new industry, so your Skills section is where you will need to demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed.
To identify the skills you will need in future roles, study job postings in your new industry, network with professionals in that field, and learn as much as you can before you start applying.
Then, look back on your career and think about the skills you've developed. Some of them will be relevant to the new industry, and will be perfect for your career change resume.
By reading as much as you can about your target profession and brainstorming your existing skills, you should be able to figure out which transferrable skills to highlight. These may be soft skills like leadership, teamwork, creativity, or problem-solving, or hard skills like writing, software expertise, or bookkeeping. Identifying transferrable skills is the key to a successful career change resume.
Once you’ve settled on the right transferrable skills, think about the best way to showcase them. It may be that a simple list will do the trick. If this is the case, create a simple bulleted list for your most relevant and impressive skills.
To really sell your skills, however, you may want place more emphasis on the skills section. Make each skill in the list a heading, and then provide evidence for each skill in bullet points below. The best way to do this is to give concrete, measurable examples of achievements relevant to that skill.
For example, if you count Leadership as a transferrable skill, provide examples of projects you have led, teams you have managed, or decisions you have been responsible for.
Clear, concrete examples are the best way to showcase your skills. When your skills are the focus of your resume, as they will be in a career change resume, it’s important to give your Skills section the attention it deserves.
An excellent work experience section is crucial to your career change resume. While your career change resume should be focused on skills, your previous positions are still an important part of your career story.
List your previous jobs in reverse-chronological order, beginning with your most recent position at the top and working backwards.
Throughout your work experience, each item should include:
In each job description, be sure to focus on the accomplishments that could be relevant to your new industry. Think about the requirements listed in the job posting, and consider what employers in your new field are seeking. Every job may not be perfectly relevant, but it’s important to show that even though you are changing careers, you have what it takes to be successful in a challenging role.
Here are some additional resume work experience tips that will help you along.
Researcher ABC Labs, New York Sept 2018 - Present
Your education is an important part of your career story. You should list your any degrees, diplomas, and certificates in your resume, even if they aren’t immediately relevant to your desired field. It’s important to show that you can work towards a goal and complete a degree, even if that degree is in an unrelated field.
If your education is completely irrelevant, simply listing your degrees and the institution name is sufficient.
If you would like to give your education more emphasis, however, you can give more details. For example, you may want to give your GPA, list academic awards, or describe relevant projects or areas of study.
MSc in Mechanical Engineering University of Iowa
BSc in Mechanical Engineering University of Iowa
You should customize your resume for every application.
While this is true for any resume, it is especially true for a career change resume. Your resume has to be perfectly targeted to prove that you have the right skills not only for a new job, but for a new career.
To do this, study each job posting and identify the specific keywords that the company is using. They will be looking for specific skills and experience. Then, look at your own background and identify the skills that overlap, and use the same words or phrases to describe your skills. This will ensure that the keywords match, and get your resume to the next round.
Experienced accounting professional and recent Bachelor of Education graduate seeking a role in education. Proven ability to communicate clearly to all levels of an organization, including legal, technical, and executive, to ensure objectives are met. Versatile mentor with experience teaching and training new hires. Several years of experience in financial analysis, accounting, and auditing. Excellent financial reporting, budget forecasting and team management skills. Experience closing leads and building and maintaining a client base. Established track record of successfully managing and executing multiple projects under tight deadlines to achieve successful results.
Bachelors of Education State University
Master of Business Administration University of Northampton
Financial Accountant Andrew Industries Limited
Senior Accountant Ambition UK
Community Success Manager & CV Writing Expert
Ben is a writer, customer success manager and CV writing expert with over 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their best careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume summary and the power of coffee.
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