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How to Tailor Your Resume to a New Career
Nowadays, more and more people are diving into new careers. The Department of Labor estimates that a person will, on average, have between 10 – 14 jobs before the age of 38. If you’re venturing into another one of your career lives, I’m going to share with you 10 ways that a career changer can upgrade their resume.
Do a Complete Rewrite of Your Resume
- For most people applying for a job, they will need to do a few tweaks to their existing resume. But if you are changing careers, you will want to use the editing process to re-examine all of your skills and view them through the lens of your potential career. On your resume, make sure that you show the full range of your skills, from communication to leadership to management. One example could involve a former teacher who now wants to go into finance. They will need to show how their leadership skills and management abilities can fit into a brokerage firm.
Use Your Job Description to Create a Summary Paragraph
- Career changers should definitely have a profile paragraph, not an objective. The employer wants to know what’s in it for them, not what you want to do. Have a summary paragraph at the beginning of your resume that ties your current skills and former jobs with your potential job’s description. Most HR personnel spend, on average, just 6 seconds the first pass on each resume, so ensure that the ways that your skills tie into the job description are the first thing that they see.
Know What You Should Leave Out
- You obviously have to use your resume to highlight the skills that will make you an asset in this potential job. You do not want to list professional accomplishments from jobs you had more than 10-15 years ago. Make sure your accomplishments showcase the skills that are relevant to this position, such as possible management or budget experience.
Use Numbers to Highlight Accomplishments
- On your resume, use bullet points to show how you contributed to your employer’s growth. Numbers can be a great way to do this. Dollars – saved or generated – are an especially great way to give an HR representative concrete examples of how you have contributed to your employer’s bottom line in the past. This can even work if your previous job was in an unrelated field. Numbers are also important because it can be a way for HR representatives to rate you against applicants who have a lot of similar experience in your potential field. By using specific numbers on your resume, it can help managers know exactly what you can do for their company.
Put In Identifiable Job Title Descriptions
- After your official job titles, add a short, relatable descriptor. This allows HR managers to zero in on your transferable skills. One example could involve a mechanical engineer transitioning into project management. You could put down “Mechanical Engineer (with a considerable emphasis on Project Management)”. When you’re writing these job title descriptions, make sure that you’re not stretching the truth. You should only use this resume writing method if you can do so honestly.
Pay Attention to Keywords
- Keywords can help your resume rise above your HR manager’s electronic filters. For many people who are changing careers, this can be a considerable first hurdle to overcome. But you will want to keep keywords from your last job to a minimum. For example, keywords from software engineering can get your education resume in the electronic version of the wastebasket. Use job aggregator websites like SimplyHired, LinkedIn and Glassdoor to get keywords applicable to your potential job. Find a few postings for your dream job, find keywords that match job descriptions, and plug in the words that best correlate to your previous positions.
Try a Mixed Format
- Career switchers should use a functional-style resume on the first page and a chronological resume on the second. The functional format focuses the hiring manager’s attention on your skills. With this first page, you can get the HR manager to pay attention to your transferable experience without needing to worry about the chronology of your career. When you combine the two formats, you can get HR personnel to look at your skills and job history at the same time.
Dropping Names is Okay
- Don’t save the fact that you have worked well with industry leaders for your interview. Instead, weave these names into your resume to get the attention of HR personnel. You could use bullet points to highlight your work with industry leaders: “Raised over $3 million in donations while working with leaders XYZ.” Just make sure the use of these company names are not something that is proprietary or confidential information to the company where you’ve worked or that could get you into potential legal trouble. When you’re applying for a job in which you have no experience, it can help that you showcase your work with widely recognized entrepreneurs, leaders and CEOs if it is not a violation of proprietary information or confidential agreements. If you are able to use this information, it can show that you have the support of these luminaries and you can really show how you made a difference in your previous position.
Showcase Non-Work Experience
- Because you’re a career changer, your extra-curricular activities will matter more. Include activities that relate to your desired position, like volunteer activities, internships, and pro-bono consulting that relate to the type of position you are seeking.
Look for Connections
- Some accomplishments are similar, despite the different management structures that proliferate across industries. On your resume, you will want to highlight aspects of your former position that will have meaning for the hiring manager at your potential job. For example, mentioning that you closed over $5 million in sales while you worked in software sales could also read well on a grant-writing resume.
By following these 10 tips, you could have an edge on not only other career changers but other types of applicants as well. Having a resume that goes the extra mile in highlighting your unique transferable skills as well as letting HR managers know what you can add to the position can usually put you at the top of the pile.