So You’ve Decided to Change Careers
The tips in this handout were taken from ‘The Career Change Resume’ book, Copyright 2003
Is It Time For A Career Change?
There are many reasons a person considers a career change.
You may be…
· Transitioning from military to civilian life
· Preparing to reenter the workforce after raising your children, recovering from a disability, or caring for an ill or aging loved one.
· Longing to return to an earlier career that you abandoned some time ago.
· Repeatedly passed over for promotions at your present company with no immediate prospects of future career advancement.
· Looking to join the corporate ranks to rid yourself of the administrative headaches, financial burdens or long hours associated with owning your own business.
· Feeling unrecognized, overworked, undervalued, or totally miserable in your present job.
· Happy in your chosen profession, but looking to change industries.
· Wishing that you could find employment that would better fit your personality, talents, or passions.
· Yearning for a career that would enable you to strike a better work/life balance.
· Wishing that your career included more fulfilling work or was more closely aligned with a cause or purpose that you truly care about.
· Dreaming of becoming a…(insert dream career).
· Feeling professionally restless, without knowing precisely why or what to do about it.
Your Resume As A Marketing Tool
Identify your Transferable Skills
· Pinpoint skills you have developed in previous careers and through positions in civic organizations that can be applied to your new career.
· Review job advertisements to see what skills, abilities, training and experiences are necessary for a specific position within the industry you are seeking.
Research Industry Keywords or “Buzzwords”
· These are terms used by employers within the industry.
· With electronic resumes, keywords can be critical in getting your resume noticed.
· Again, review job advertisements and incorporate matching keywords into your resume (while still being honest about your experience).
If you want to de-emphasize your work experience or are changing careers, you will want to focus on your transferable skills. This is when a Functional Resume may be a better format.
It’s best to use a Functional Resume when:
· Your job titles are not directly related to your career goals.
· You are reentering the job market after an absence.
· You are looking for another job in a very different field or industry.
· You are a new graduate with a limited work history.
· You want to use a newly acquired education to make a career change.
Be prepared in an interview to explain any gaps in work history.
The combination resume is great for new college grads and career changers because it combines the qualities of a chronological resume with the concept of a functional resume. A “Qualifications” section highlights your skills and your responsibilities in a specific job. It emphasizes transferable skills that are not necessarily related to specific jobs, but can be used in a variety of situations.
· If related work experience is a major strength for you, then this format will probably work best.
· Focuses on work history, starting with the most recent position you’ve held. Headings might be labeled, “Experience”, “Work History,” or “Related Experience.”
Nuts and Bolts of a Career Change Resume
· Important to include sections in your resume that communicate your goals, key strengths, transferable skills and relevant achievements.
· Objective statement needs to be specific, target a definite job/industry and written with a focus. Be sure your objective statement is free of clichés like ‘team player’ or ‘good communicator’.
· Include a Qualifications section that consists of a short paragraph or bulleted statements condensing your experience, areas of strength and highlights of your background. Keep it concise.
· If your earlier work experience ties closely to what you want to do now, set up a “Relevant Experience” section.
· No matter what format you choose, include details of your key accomplishments. Quantify accomplishments with dollar amounts, percentages and before/after comparisons.
· If you have 5 or more years of professional work experience, it is appropriate to place your “Education” section to the bottom of your resume.
· Other sections of your resume may be Skills (technology and foreign language), Awards/Honors, Professional Memberships and Community Involvement.
· Organize your material so your strongest credentials, skills and accomplishments come first.
Top 10 Resume Blunders (and how to avoid them)
1. Does not convey a specific career goal.
Include a clearly stated career objective.
2. Lacks emphasis on employer needs.
Focus on how you will benefit an employer.
3. Minimal or zero inclusion of relevant accomplishments.
Emphasize ways your have saved time, cut costs, generated revenue and solved problems.
4. Failure to conduct research on career target.
Research your targeted area and connect your transferable skills to this area.
5. Lack of buzzwords.
Include terms, phrases and acronyms from the industry.
6. Too little information.
Spell out for employers how your prior career experience meets the needs of the position.
7. Too much irrelevant information.
Highlight skills and achievements that prove your capability for the job you are targeting.
8. Burying your most relevant information.
Prioritize your strengths and lead your resume with your most relevant qualifications.
9. Use of the wrong format.
Select either the functional or combination resume.
10. Use of a general resume.
Market yourself for your career change by writing a highly focused, targeted resume that communicates your strengths.
Career Change Resume FAQ’s
Q: What can I do about gaps in employment?
A: There are a couple ways to present your work history:
· Consider including only years worked rather than month and year.
· Never showcase employment dates around large areas of white space.
· Think of other activities you pursued during your employment gaps. This may include volunteer activities, travel or developing a new skill.
· Be prepared to explain a gap in work history at an interview. Never talk badly about a previous employer and be honest.
Q: What can I do if my work history looks like I am a job-hopper?
A: You may be able to group similar positions under one employment heading. Or group different positions within the same company under one heading.
Q: I’ve been out of the workforce raising a family. How do I explain this on my resume?
A: Don’t feel like you have to apologize or hide your choice. This is probably better explained in a cover letter, stating you have been raising a family, but are now ready to return to full-time employment.
Q: How do I handle self-employment on my resume?
A: Focus on achievements and skills that would be in demand for the industry you are seeking. In some employer’s eyes, self-employment shows initiative, dedication, business know-how and strong work ethic.
Q: My experience is unrelated to my career goal. How do I handle this on my resume?
A: Lead with a Career Summary that sums up your educational foundation and key skills for your new objective. In the Education section, expand on relevant courses, special projects or activities that relate to your objective. Keep your Experience section focused on relevant skills and achievements. If previous experience is irrelevant, you may just list employer name, job title and dates without giving descriptions.