How to Write an Effective Career Change Resume

Crafting a resume for a career change

If you have poured a lot of time and energy into your current career path, you know that trying to forge a professional path in a different industry can be daunting. A well-crafted resume and cover letter are essential in helping you navigate this process successfully. Learn how to communicate your motivation for pivoting, show off your transferable skills, and land your dream job — even when you don’t have experience in the field.

How a resume can help explain your retraining

An effective career change resume is essential for explaining your retraining and qualifications to pursue a career in a different field. Hiring managers in one industry are unlikely to be familiar with role titles and their associated responsibilities in a different industry — especially if they have worked in the same industry their entire careers.

This means it’s up to you to show them how you are qualified for the position you have applied for. Along with a well-crafted cover letter for career change, an effective resume highlights your transferable skills, which are those skills you learned in your current industry that align with those needed for success in your target industry. 

An effective resume allows the hiring manager to put the whole puzzle together and see why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

Expert tip:

When changing careers, consider using a functional resume format instead of reverse chronological. A functional resume highlights your relevant experience and transferable skills, which helps the hiring manager connect the dots between your previous career and the one you’re pivoting to.

Overview of the resume for change

As you write your resume for career change, there are a few best practices you’ll want to adhere to if you want to land a new job in a different field. 

First, choose the best resume format for your career change. A functional resume can work well, as it puts your skills and relevant experience at the top. If you still want to list all of your work experience, many resume articles recommend a hybrid format, which includes a traditional work history at the bottom of the document.

No matter which format you choose, make sure it’s not too long. If you’re a mid-career professional, keep your resume to one page to stay concise and avoid including unnecessary information. Even if you have had a long career with a lot of experience, you should still ensure that your resume is no more than two pages.

As you write, include meaningful information in every line of your resume. If you doubt whether the information is truly needed, you can likely leave it out. Any career change resume examples you use should help you keep extraneous words to a minimum. Along with choosing a legible font, being concise will increase your resume’s clarity and ensure that nothing gets in the way of communicating your skills and qualifications.

Introduce yourself and your motivations

The last thing you want is for a hiring manager to look at your resume and wonder how your application landed on their desk. After reading your resume, they should be very clear about what you can offer and your motivations for pursuing a career change. 

Although you can tweak your cover letter examples to include this information, you can also place it right in your resume using the profile or professional objectives section.

Talk about your current role

At the beginning of your professional profile section, state your job title and one or two responsibilities you currently have. For example, a CPA may state that they are an “accountant responsible for managing risk and overseeing the financial administration of the company’s software-as-a-service division.”

Explain the career change you want to make

The next line or two should provide context for your application and show why you’re applying for the job. For example, you may state that you’re “looking to use your financial oversight and data analytics skills to increase company ROI as a marketing manager.”

Highlight what led you to this choice

Include a line or two about why you intend to switch careers. Are you looking to help more people? Do you want to work with a different population? Have you recently discovered a new passion? This shows the hiring manager that you have thought about your career change and have a strong motivation for pursuing it.

Discuss transferable skills

To show a hiring manager that you’re qualified for the position you’re applying for, it’s essential to highlight your transferable skills throughout your career change resume. What have you learned in your previous position that makes you perfect for this role? In order to do this successfully, follow these three steps.

Identify skills that align with the new position

First, make a list of all the hard and soft skills you have developed in your current industry or role. Then, read the job description for your target role and make a list of skills you must have to do the job successfully. The skills that align in each list are considered transferable skills and should be highlighted at the top of your resume.

Discuss relevant parts of your personal background

You don’t have to save information about your personal background for when you fill out cover letter templates. Instead, consider using the personal interest or hobby section in your resume to highlight relevant skills you have gained. 

For example, if you want to switch to a career in marketing, you can highlight how you have grown your own social media profile as an influencer or done the same to help a local nonprofit raise more money for their cause.

Write about new certifications and degrees

Hiring managers love to see candidates who have pursued additional education in their target field. This not only positions you as a qualified candidate but also shows your passion for and dedication to your new career.

Anticipate questions

As a career changer, you should be prepared for hiring managers to ask questions about your motivations and qualifications. Use these tactics to highlight that you are right for the job and assure them that your unique and varied background makes you an excellent candidate.

Don’t neglect your professional profile

Your professional profile helps build a narrative about who you are and your qualifications as a candidate. Use it to tell why you’re making a career change and what you’ve learned in your current role that can help you in your new one.

Put relevant experience and skills front and center

The beauty of using a functional or hybrid resume for changing careers is that it ensures you place your relevant skills and experience at the top. This way, the hiring manager will see and understand right away what your qualifications are and why you are suitable for the job.

Provide a reference to vouch for your skills

Having a reference who has seen your transferable skills in action can lend a great deal of credibility to your resume. If your resume template doesn’t already have a reference section, tweak it to include one.

“An effective resume highlights your transferable skills, which are those skills you learned in your current industry that align with those needed for success in your target industry.”

Create a career change resume that stands above the rest

Remember that career changers are competing against those who have been in their target industry for years. Consequently, your resume and cover letter must truly stand out if you want to land the job of your dreams.

Use a functional or hybrid format to make sure your transferable skills and relevant experience appear at the top of the resume so the hiring manager can see your value right off the bat. Additionally, use the professional profile section to add context to your career pivot, explaining how your current role connects to the one you are applying for and why you are looking to change sectors.

When done right, your career change resume can effectively illustrate how a candidate with a varied professional background can be the best fit for the advertised role. 

If you need help crafting the perfect career change resume, Jobseeker has a variety of resume and cover letter articles as well as tools to help you make a professional switch. With an effective career change resume example and advice at your fingertips, it is possible to obtain a fulfilling career in a new industry.

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