If you are thinking about making a career change to a new profession, one of the most challenging things you will need to do is write a career change resume. Without a doubt, even for professional resume writers, career change resumes are among the most difficult to write.
Your resume needs to show how your experience translates to the employer’s needs. This can be tricky since career changers often have little to no direct experience in the field they hope to break into. If you have worked in a financial planning and analysis job for the past 15 years and now you hope to land a technology sales position, for example, how would you write a resume to show how you have the qualifications for the target job when you have never done the job?
But challenging or not, a well-written, persuasive career change resume is essential for almost all successful career changes. Here are some expert tips to help you.
Traditionally, many experts recommend that resumes be structured in a reverse-chronological format. This format showcases progression in a traditional, linear career. However, the chronological format is rarely the right choice for writing a career change resume. In a career change resume you will typically want to call more attention to transferable skills than you will to past employment in a different profession or industry.
Unfortunately, many career changers buy into the myth of a functional resume format. A functional resume places all the focus on transferable skills without any career chronology. While a functionally formatted resume overcomes many of the pitfalls of a reverse chronological resume, it has two major problems:
- Recruiters hate functional resumes and will almost always reject them.
- Functional resumes cause problems in applicant tracking systems and, for this reason, are considered ATS incompatible
The solution for career changers is to use a combination or hybrid format that emphasizes the transferable skills important for your career change while also including a chronology of your career. Structuring your resume in this way allows you to customize the format to call out the skills that will be important to your next employer. You also have a great deal of leeway in exactly how much emphasis to place on the functional vs. the chronology, and when you review example career change resumes, you will find a great deal of variation.
Working with a professional resume writer is the best way to determine the optimal strategy for your career change resume and how to structure it. We work with career changers all the time at Distinctive Career Services and are experts in these strategic decisions. To learn more you can schedule a free consultation. You may also find it helpful to use a professionally designed career change resume template.
The following is an example career change resume for an academic professor who was seeking to make a change into a corporate training career. It places a much heavier focus on the functional format than on the chronology of his career.