Resumes for Career Changers
In this article, you will find resume tips for people who are making a major career change.
Transitioning from one career to another has become so common that it's almost not unconventional anymore. The average worker has three or four distinctly different careers over the course of the 40 years or so spent in the workforce. Even though it's becoming more commonplace, however, making the big switch still presents certain challenges when developing a resume. Here are just a few tips that you may find helpful:
- Lead with your strengths. You must have something in your background that leads you to believe that you can be successful in the new career. Whatever that something is, that's what you need to emphasize on your resume. It may be education, either recently completed or from years ago; it might be volunteer experience that has convinced you that you've found your calling; or it could be technical expertise that has prepared you for your next endeavor. Keep in mind the advice from chapters 2 and 3 about expressing it forward and highlighting the skills most relevant to your new career target.
- Use your cover letter to make your case. Even with a compelling resume that is “front-end-loaded” with all of your relevant skills, employers may not immediately grasp how you can be an asset or why you are making the transition. Your cover letter is your chance to be passionate about your new career choice. Maybe there's a compelling story about an incident in your life that convinced you to enter the health care field. Perhaps your engaging personality causes your friends to keep saying, “You should be in sales.” Whatever your reasons for making the change, use your cover letter to sell a prospective employer on your enthusiasm for the new opportunity.
- Express your competencies in language that is rich in the keywords of your career target. If you're transitioning from healthcare to the private sector, “patient care” becomes “customer service.” If you're moving into sales from some other field, emphasize “time management” and “meeting goals and objectives.” The prospective new employer will appreciate your use of keywords they are familiar with.
- If you're returning to a field in which you have had previous experience, place this in a section called “relevant experience.” This section should appear immediately after your summary and should include just the work experience that is similar to the job you're targeting. Then show the rest of your work experience under “additional related experience,” which comes after “relevant experience,” or maybe even after your education.
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