Changing career paths has never been easy, and with the volatile job market these days, it is already difficult enough for those who are on a dedicated career path to get a job. It’s even more so for career changers.
So how exactly do you land a job in your target career knowing full well that you have no experience or relevant background to show for it? The answer, if you are intent on finding it, lies first and foremost in your resume.
It’s All in the Resume
Your resume will probably be one of the most important tools you are ever going to need if you want to successfully land a job – any job – be it one in your current field of expertise, or one in an entirely new industry. This is because your resume is your best foot forward. It represents you at your very best. It is a sales tool that helps the employer get to know your qualifications in order to fit you to the requirements of the job they are offering.
The right resume will do more than just represent you fairly; it will get your foot through the door. A well-written resume will catch the employer’s attention enough to make them want to get to know you more and invite you for an interview, at which time, you are better able to expound personally on your qualifications.
Tips on Writing a Career Changer’s Resume
Or better yet, this section could be called “Tips on Re-writing a Career Changer’s Resume”. This is because for a career changer, the common scenario is that they already have an existing resume, and often, they make the mistake of sending the same resume they’ve been using for their previous career instead of making a new one that is tailor-fit to the new career they are aiming to shift to
Rather than falling for this common mistake, career changers would be wise to take their current resume and re-write it to reflect the differences in skills needs, objectives and priorities of the new career they’re changing into. To get a feel for the new qualifications and objectives you are facing, try to network with people from that industry and research about the skills and other qualifications that are important to the industry that you want to make a new career in.
Another helpful tip to help you re-write you resume is this: try answering the question “Why should an employer take a chance on me?” Career changers often don’t have the desired experience to get the job but they probably have certain skills that are transferable from their previous career.
A transferable skill is a skill that you may have developed in your past job experiences that may be useful to your new career. Review your most desirable skills and arrange them in the order in which they are most relevant to the job you are applying to. Include any skills you may have picked up from a hobby or a volunteering experience that may be applicable to your desired career.
Choosing a Resume Format
Sometimes, the right resume format can go a long way in making your resume a cut above the rest. A career changer, because of their more challenging circumstance, will benefit more from a combination chronological resume format. This resume format is written chronologically but leads off with a qualifications summary, which will emphasize the skills most relevant to the new career. Starting with a qualifications summary instead of most recent experience will allow hiring managers to easily see that you are qualified for your new career goal. When re-writing your resume in this format, make sure you state clearly your new objectives so that the employer knows you are shifting careers. Also make sure that your work history emphasizes the most relevant of your skills, talents and accomplishments. This will ensure the effectiveness of your new resume.
Changing careers can be a terrifying step. You are leaving the comfort of your past experience and moving in a new direction. Writing a resume for a job in a new sector is difficult, particularly if you are lacking some of the skills generally needed in the sector. Don’t let fear of a resume stop you from achieving your new dream. There are many simple steps that can help craft a resume when you are changing careers.
Focus on Skills
While you may be looking for a career that has little in common with your old employment, dig deep to think about any skill sets which may transfer over. Your computer literacy, ability to work in a team, or problem solving may come in handy. Though the specific tasks will not be the same, larger skill sets can be valuable to your new employer. Be honest about your past experience, but focus on the aspects that will best suit your new career.
Education and Training
Have you recently went back to school or been on any kind of training program with your old employer? Management or motivational training could be seen as advantageous to your new employer, even if it is not directly related to the position you are applying for. If you have had any schooling that could apply to your new career, mention it. You might even want to consider taking a class or two at your local community college if you are planning on changing careers. This may help you brush up on skills and prove to potential employers that you are serious about the switch.
Keep it Brief
Luckily, the point of a resume is to summarize your skills and experience in a short amount of time. A one or two page resume that is snappy and concise will serve you well. This will benefit you because you can pick and choose the skills or experience from your previous work that will most closely match what you need for your new career.
Convincing Cover Letters
Almost as important as the resume is the cover letter to the prospective employer. The cover letter should be short – three paragraphs will generally suffice, and they should be no longer than one page. In the first paragraph, you should explain what position you are applying for and what about the company interests you. The last paragraph is a reference to the attached resume, request for an interview, and thanking the person for their time. The middle is where people changing careers have a chance to shine. Here you can explain why you want the position and why you are qualified to have it. You can include more detail than a resume will generally hold. Make it specific and convincing.
Changing careers might be the best move you will ever make. It takes courage and determination to make a move like this. Pursuing something that will make you happy or advance your life goals will be rewarding in the end. Take time writing your resume and you can improve your chances of success.
There are a lot of things to think about when you decide to change careers. One thing that it is important to make sure doesn’t get lost in the shuffle is writing a new resume.
In writing any resume the priority is to present yourself to a prospective employer in a way that makes them want to hire you. This is a bit harder when applying for a job in a career you have no previous experience in. However, with a bit of thought you can create a resume that emphasizes the benefits you offer, rather then any experience you lack.
First off, make sure you know what the new career requires. And make sure you can meet all these requirements.
Then, take the time to review your previous positions, or if you are recently out of school, your school work, and volunteer work you have done. Even being the house-spouse for a few years can give you skills that are useful in many careers.
Think about it. Accounting is accounting whether your balancing books for a corporation or managing inventory and expenses in a store. Organizing a 300 person yearly reunion and a 150 person corporation event aren’t much different either. And organizing and running a fundraiser or food drive gives you experience in managing small to medium scale projects.
Instead of listing your previous positions, now you are ready to write a resume based on previous experience. List the organization you were working for (employer, volunteer group, etc), what you did (budget, events, fundraisers), and the results – kept store in the black with average profit of _ monthly, raised __ for charity over 2 week period, etc.
Next, consider your objective. Why do you want to change careers? Why do you think this company would be a good one to work for? Why do you think you can do well in this new career? If you’re careful, you can include a lot of information in a few sentences.
People aren’t expected to stay in the same job or career for their entire lives any more, and employers are learning the value of having diverse out looks and backgrounds on their team. No matter what you’re background, you have skills and experience to offer an employer in a new career. A good resume can show a potential employer exactly what you have to offer.
And don’t forget to write a good cover letter either!
In a competitive job market, where it is already difficult for job seekers to get noticed, trying to convince managers in a totally different field that they should recruit you to their team is likely to be a Herculean task, but it can be done with some thought, determination and positivity. The one thing you cannot do is to use the same old resume you had for your old jobs to cross over into something else. In fact, you might not even need a resume at all, just a longer covering letter, depending on your objective.
Getting into a new field depends on whether you are merely transferring the skills you already have or are making a significant change in direction. There are two forms of emphasis when you are changing career fields: one is emotional, if the change is drastic, and the other is transitional, if the change is minimal.
With a transitional objective, your skills are likely to be transferable (something you developed in your old career being applicable to a new one). There will be connecting links between the new field and your old one and you will be able to identify those links easily between the jobs and responsibilities you have had to the one you are hoping to get. For example, from being an accountant in the construction industry to being a bursar in a school.
Transitional posts are often accessed through regular research into the field, networking with people from it and learning about the skills and qualifications necessary to get into it. Skills that can be transferred would include those gained perhaps from your former career, a hobby or volunteer experience, etc. For example, if you were very good in communication as a lecture or teacher, you could use that in marketing to help write press releases or persuade people to buy goods and services.
Make a list of your most desirable and related qualifications, which should be the key part of your resume, then build everything else around them. Choose a chronological, or historical, format for writing your resume where your career history will be plainly seen. You can either begin or end with your qualifications, but the actual skills and accomplishments related to the new the job should be very clear to see. It is important to mention your new career objective and why you wish to change. It means that employers won’t assume you’re staying in your old field.
A single page covering letter stating your objective of moving into the new field through your acquired knowledge and skills, and why it would be beneficial to do so, would also help your application.
For a dramatic change in jobs, you would need what I call the ’emotional’ approach, where it would be an emphasis on feelings, accomplishments and desires, especially in the covering letter, rather than actual work and qualifications. Your resume would be in the ‘functional’ style where it would downplay your former career, while drawing out the related skills from it that would be useful in your new job.
The beginning of your resume should start with your new career goal, a summary of your qualifications and then the skills you believe you have that would be very useful in achieving this new goal. You could end the resume with a brief listing of your past jobs, emphasizing only the relevant ones which would match or enhance the new post. You have to demonstrate why you are particularly interested in this new field and how both you and the employer would benefit from your switching fields.
The cover letter should emphasize your knowledge of, and passion for, the new industry you’d like to enter and any related experience/training you have in it. This is where you would stress your own motivation, enthusiasm and keenness to get stuck into your new career, one that would benefit the employer’s objectives and operation. It would be mainly about your accomplishments, your need for new challenges and your need to keep up to date with new technology and skills. You would also stress your desire to learn, to enhance your own development, despite your age (if you are older) and to put all the experience and knowledge you have had to even better use.
This covering letter could be sent on its own without the resume, if you wish to give a flavor of who you are and what you are seeking first, but you have to be prepared to produce your resume if required.
The emotional approach would take the focus away from your lack of suitability for the new job and place it on your potential to contribute to the new business in a expert way they might not have envisaged. In that way, you might turn a skeptical employer into a welcoming one.