There is an adage: “You can't get there from here.” That does not apply to most career changes. It is common to change industries and occupations one or more times over the course of one’s career. You probably can “get there from here,” but, it will require planning, preparation, and proper messaging. There are three primary aspects of written communication to pave the way to your new career: Your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and your networking messages. Today we’ll cover how to write a resume for a career change.
Start with a Headline
A headline is not necessary on a resume. However, if you are changing careers, a headline can help define you in a new way. An effective headline is five to eight words and communicates your top value relevant to your career goal. It can be a series of roles (Software Developer * Project Manager * Team Trainer) or it can be a phrase (Developer of Cloud-based Healthcare Management Software). Depending on your goal, it can be broad or very specific.
Create a Targeted Profile
Although this advice is true for everyone, it is crucial for a career changer to write a targeted profile so the resume history is read in the proper context. A good profile eliminates fluffy language (such as “motivated self-starter,” “excellent verbal and written communication skills,” and “proven track record”). A strong profile gets to the point and shares the candidate top relevant values in a brief three to five-line statement.
Display Areas of Expertise
Over recent years you may have noticed an increase in the use of a “Core Competencies” or “Areas of Expertise” section in a resume. It is not an accident that this coincides with the rise in the prevalence of ATS (Applicant Tracking Software). List your top skills relevant to your career goal. Avoid baseline skills, soft skills, and characteristics. These words help you to get more “hits” by the ATS app. This section also conveys your top skills to the human reader in a few seconds.
Feature Relevant Experience
This is the challenge for many. How do you list relevant experience is you are transitioning to a new field? When we work with clients, we ask questions to uncover transferable skills. We also are selective about which aspects of a job history should be featured. That’s why resume writing is a lot more than formatting.
Explain Long Breaks
If you took a long break from your career, we will identify a strategy to increase your interview request rate. In some cases, it is the ATS that is blocking you due to the gap in dates. Other times, a reader needs a brief explanation so they are sure you are poised for a career re-entry. We can accomplishment that in several ways, one of which is a brief career break statement.
Close Skill Gaps
There are many professions with a high barrier to entry. This may be a graduate degree, industry certifications, licenses, corporate sponsorship for licenses, or a level of technical proficiency. In some cases, you can close those gaps through training and education. Other times, you may need to serve in an internship for a period to build the skills to enter. We never advocate for falsifying your credentials. However, there are ways to truthfully explain training/development in progress.
If you are planning a career change, contact me when you are ready for a new resume and LinkedIn profile. I would be happy to help.