How To Write a Resume to Return to a Previous Career Path

Has your career been derailed? Maybe veering away from your previous career path was intentional and maybe it wasn’t. But if you have been working outside your usual career path and want to return, writing a resume can present a challenge.

Problematic situations. That is why most of our clients come looking for resume help. You are not alone!

There are plenty of good reasons you may have left your career…

Your spouse took a great job in a new city, and since you weren’t really ready to be single, you quit your job and went with her.

Or, you reached that point in your life where you wondered if maybe you could be a ________ (fill in the blank with that thing you always wanted to be).

Or you took the leap and started that entrepreneurial Beanie Baby Collectors Cafe. Unfortunately there weren’t as many people as passionate about Beanie Babies as you were.

Or, through no fault of your own, you got caught up in a major downsizing, were laid off, and had to find a job outside your field to pay the bills.

Whatever the reason was that you left, you’re ready to get back to it.

But you’re feeling rusty and unsure. And, of course, you have no idea how to explain the transition in your resume.

Which is precisely why you are here reading this article and seeking tips on how to write a resume to return to a previous career path.

What to do…

The good news is that you can use your work experience to your advantage – being able to show steady employment is one of the top requirements that recruiters and hiring managers want to see. The better news is that your experience it still valuable. You may just need to run it through a refresh cycle.

Put Your Current / Most Recent Employment in the Best Light Possible

Whether it’s on an application or in an interview, you’ll be asked about your most recent employment. Make it work for you by highlighting on your resume the transferable skills that help you in your chosen profession.

It may take some thought to figure it out, but you absolutely used the skills you developed in your previous career path in your most recent work.

And this is definitely time to create a targeted resume. Getting back on track means putting all focus on showing what you can do and why that new employer will benefit from hiring you.

Here is the first page of a targeted resume that we wrote for a Distinctive Career Services‘ client who was trying to return to a nursing career path while bringing in some of the executive management skills she had developed when she had to unexpectedly take over management of the company business.

If you are looking for ideas on how to write your resume to return to your previous career, this resume example should inspire you:

Resume Help to Return to Career Path Page 1

Get a Refresh in Your Field

Most fields have some sort of association or professional organization. Find yours. Depending on the requirements, you may be able to join, but at a minimum, you can attend events. This is also a great place to learn about professional conferences.

Either way, include this information on your new targeted resume to return to your previous career. And attending industry events gives you an opportunity for networking and asking about openings in your field.

If you have had a certification related to your profession, see what you need to do to refresh it. If you’ve never had the certification, research what it will take for you to get certified.

Does certification require passing a test? Start the training process to prepare.

Again, you should include these refreshed certifications on your resume.  Even if all you are doing right now is training, get that info on your resume:

“Currently enrolled in continuing education coursework required for Xxxxxx Certification.”

You may not be able to actually obtain it, but starting the process will both get you up to speed and give you another plus when talking to potential employers. In the process of training and testing, try to do some more networking.

There’s that word again. Networking. You need to do it.

Ready for the second page of the targeted resume shown above? If you are reading this article because you are looking for resume writing tips to help ease your transition back to your previous career path, this example resume illustrates some key strategies.

Resume Help to Return to Previous Career Path Page 2


Networking is one of the best job search tools you can use. If you’re trying to get back into your former career, getting in touch with that former network is crucial.

If you’ve lost touch with your former colleagues, now’s the time to reconnect. In addition to getting you in the loop for possible job openings, getting back in the habit of “talking about work” will help you get up to speed on what’s going on in your field.

Use social media like Linkedin and Twitter to make industry connections. If you’ve moved to a different state or city, look for second or third connections in your area. Ask your first level connection for an introduction.

Beef Up on Your Tools

The best way to get back on track for your job search is to start your job search, even if you’re not ready to start your job search. Look up your target position on job boards and create a list of the tool knowledge that’s expected. These will be important keywords for your resume.

For tools that you’ve used, see if you can find a refresher course. For tools you haven’t used, looked for an introductory course, or research the tool online and learn as much as possible as you can. Again your relevant areas of knowledge and training should be included on your targeted resume written to return to your previous career.

If the job postings ask for knowledge of regulations or standards, do the research so you can talk to the standards. Learn or relearn the industry jargon and abbreviations. Being able to talk the talk gives you a connection to the industry that will help both in looking for jobs and in job interviews.

Check Out Our Blog and Contact Us For Resume Assistance

No matter what questions you have about getting back into your previous career, look through our job searching blog for tips. And, of course, if you need resume help, we’re here. Just book a free Resume Writing Consultation to learn more.

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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