Over the last couple of years, we saw a massive shift in career paths, with a staggering 50 million Americans either quitting or changing their careers in 2021 alone. The trend is only continuing, with projections showing that the majority of the workforce is poised to acquire new skills to stay competitive in the job market in 2023.
If you are ready to switch careers, you probably understand that making a career change can be thrilling and bring new opportunities, growth, and even more income.
But let's be real, it's not a cakewalk - especially when you're venturing into a completely different industry. To make that leap, you need to arm yourself with more than just research and job leads.
A top-notch resume could be the most crucial tool in your arsenal. It is your opportunity to prove to your future employer why you're making the switch, what unique skills and experiences you bring to the table, and what this change means for you.
A well-crafted resume that tells your career story will also help you feel confident and prepared during the job search process. In this post, we’re going to highlight some of the challenges people face when switching careers and how you can rewrite your resume to help you land your next dream job in a totally new industry.
Tips for writing a strong career change resume
Whether you’re venturing into a side gig or transitioning to a different industry, it involves challenges. Here is what you can do with your resume to minimize your struggles:
When seeking employment in a new industry, it can be tempting to try to fit your previous work experiences into the specific technical skills required for the job. However, this approach may not always be the most effective. Instead, it's important to be transparent about your career history and to communicate the reasons for your change of industry.
By doing so, you can showcase the transferable skills and adaptability that you bring to the table, and demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for your new career path. This can be a more compelling narrative for potential employers and help you stand out in the job market.
Try out different resume formats
Should you change the format of your resume that you have been using in your previous industry? When you're making your resume, there's no one right way to do it. People often use popular formats that fit their industry.
For example, in the traditional corporate industry, a chronological resume format is often the most suitable option. This format highlights your work experience in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent job and moving backward.
Likewise, for a creative industry, such as advertising or graphic design, professionals often prefer a functional resume. This format helps them emphasize their skills and achievements rather than their work history.
You might want to try different styles until you find what works best for you or your new industry. But, it's important to keep your resume professional and not too fancy. Designs that are too cluttered can often make it hard for recruiters or automated screening systems to focus on your important information.
Regardless of what format or layout you choose, make sure your resume is ATS-friendly. Read out one of our blog posts that describe how to write an ATS-friendly resume.
Don’t forget to showcase your skills
When making a traditional resume, professionals often show their experience first. However, when changing careers, hiring managers may not know the responsibilities of their previous industry. Instead of only listing job titles, focus on highlighting transferable and hard skills that are valuable and relevant to the new role.
Transferable skills include problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and taking feedback. Hard skills are specific to the industry or job and include technical skills like using Excel or programming. Show the impact your skills had in each role instead of just daily tasks.
Add a summary or objective
The objective or summary section of a resume plays a crucial role in providing an overview of a candidate's skills and experience. As employers often have to review a large number of resumes, having a well-written objective can help them quickly understand the candidate's qualifications. Therefore, place this part at the top of the resume right after following the contact information.
When writing an objective for a career transition, it's essential to highlight skills and qualifications that are relevant to the new position. Take a concise and specific approach to effectively communicate your relevant strengths. The objective should be brief and act as a precursor to a more in-depth explanation in the skills section.
For instance, let’s say you’re a software developer applying for a product manager position. A suitable resume summary for you might be: "Experienced software developer with a proven track record in delivering high-quality products and expertise in project management. Seeking to leverage technical skills and leadership experience as a product manager."
This concise summary will showcase your relevant experience and provide a clear picture of your objective for the transition.
Rewrite your professional experience
Revising your employment section to highlight transferable skills relevant to your new career can improve your resume. Emphasize skills, rather than job duties, by adding brief bullet points.
For example, a teacher changing careers to a data associate position in a voice-operated human interface device company can focus on communication skills developed through teaching; for example, effective written and verbal communication.
Challenges people face when switching careers
Changing careers can present a number of challenges for professionals, including a lack of relevant experience in the new field, perceived skill gaps, and potential wage reduction.
However, you can overwhelm these challenges by effectively communicating transferable skills and experiences in a well-written resume.
To rewrite your resume to overcome career change challenges, consider the following tips as well:
- Focus on transferable skills, such as leadership, project management, problem-solving, and communication.
- Highlight relevant achievements and accomplishments, even if they are not directly related to your new field.
- Use keywords and industry language to show your understanding of the new field and your eagerness to learn more.
- Consider including a summary or objective statement that explains your career change and why you are suited for the new role.
- Seek professional resume writing assistance to ensure your document is polished and effective in communicating your value to potential employers.
Transitioning careers requires planning, preparation, and time. Tailoring your resume is a key way to show your strengths to potential employers and make it past the first rounds of the hiring process.