Since most managers spend less than a minute scanning your resume, make sure the first thing they read ties directly to the job description. Numbers, especially those given in dollars, can quickly give hiring managers an idea of your contributions — even in an unrelated field, says recruiter Craig Libis, founder of Executive Recruiting Consultants based in Dell Rapids, S.
While important on all resumes, for a career changer, numbers can be a simple way for hiring managers to relate to an unfamiliar work history. Adding a short descriptor after the official job title can help hiring managers easily identify your transferable skills. But be careful not to exaggerate the truth. When it comes to resume writing, keywords help you move past the electronic filters.
Bradford recommends using job aggregator sites like Indeed. Find several job postings for your ideal job, paste the job descriptions into a document and find keywords by highlighting any terms that are job descriptors or mention specific needed skills. Then pick out those keywords that match up with your previous experience and include them throughout the first page of your resume, says Bradford. When working with career switchers, resume writer Robyn Feldberg creates a functional-style resume on the first page and includes the traditional chronological format on the second page.
Since the functional format focuses more on skills, you can use it to draw the hiring manager in with relevant experience without worrying about the chronology. Combining both resume formats helps to highlight the various transferable skills while still providing a look at the job history, she adds.
A bullet point may read: A common mistake career changers make is to use the same resumes that worked in their previous careers. Re-phrase and re-organize your skills to properly highlight your qualifications for this new path.
Pay careful attention to job descriptions and use the key words and lingo in your resume. This one is best for career changers with transferable skills from their professional past. The summary highlights your most relevant qualifications to easily point them out to the hiring manager. Remember those short attention spans. Within your chronological work history, you should focus on the skills, tasks and accomplishments most relevant to your new career. Lead your resume with a career goal and qualifications summary, and then create categories that highlight your related skills and experience.
Your work chronology is listed at the end of the resume, with no job description for unrelated positions. The narrative format allows you to control the information you provide. Keep your letter focused on how your passion for your new career, combined with your transferable skills and experience, would benefit your potential employer. This format works well for networking scenarios in which you are referred by a mutual contact who vouches for you.
Whatever format you choose, your new resume or resumes should be comprehensive, but not overwhelming. Zero in on those skills that would be most interesting to the person looking to fill the position. Your time at a PR firm may be impressive, but not so much to a hiring manager looking for a tech assistant.
This is where transferable skills come in. Each job teaches us something, and those things can be widely used elsewhere. For instance, your time management skills or knowledge of certain computer programs would be useful in most any position. Your job here is to demonstrate the ease with which you will move into this new career. Stay focused on relevance as opposed to volume. This is particularly important if you are a relatively experienced candidate who is willing to take on a more junior role in exchange for the opportunity to switch fields.
Play down your overall years of experience and emphasize your commitment to the career change and your willingness and ability to roll up your sleeves and do the work needed. Think about projects in your past that allowed you to develop transferable skills — including related education, training, and volunteer work. If your past professional experience has little application this career switch, you may be able to make up for it by emphasizing work done outside of office hours.
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In your career change resume, you have to tell the story of your transferable skills to hiring managers, explaining how qualifications from your previous career are still applicable and relevant.
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