How to Write a Resume for a Career Change
Learning how to write a great resume as someone changing professions with little relevant experience can seem difficult.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Anyone can write a strong resume to change careers by emphasizing these two things in their application: 1.) relevant experience, and 2.) transferable skills.
To make sure you hit upon that relevant experience and target those transferable skills in your career change resume, follow these five steps:
- Use the combination resume format
- Open with a resume summary
- Use work experience to highlight transferable skills
- Emphasize relevant school experience
- List relevant certifications
1. Use the Combination Resume Format
When changing careers, you want a resume format that highlights your transferable skills while downplaying your lack of experience in your new industry.
That’s why the combination resume format is your ideal choice.
As a career changer, you bring certain skills with you from past jobs that make your application more attractive to employers. Some of those skills can be listed in your skills section, and others can be highlighted as examples of work experience.
Here’s what a combination resume for a career change candidate looks like:
2. Open with a Strong Resume Summary
Knowing how to start a resume off strong is essential for anyone changing careers. That’s because a good introduction quickly establishes the value of your contributions at work, showcases your relevant skills, and sets the tone for the rest of your resume.
As a career changer, you should write a resume summary. Resume summaries let you highlight your relevant skills and qualifications without relying heavily on your work experience (since much of it is now irrelevant).
Here’s an example of an effective career changer resume summary, which hits upon both transferable skills (experience working with clients, passion for the new industry) and professional achievements (driving a 250% revenue increase):
Corporate professional with 5+ years of experience in advertising and client relationships looking to leverage my marketing expertise and passion for progressive change as a Political Fundraising Specialist at Win Blue PAC. Managed and grew the marketing team from three to eight sales staff in four years, with 250% revenue increase. Excellent record of fostering lasting client relations and building recognizable brands.
3. Use Your Work Experience to Highlight Transferable Skills
The work experience you list on your career change resume should reflect your transferable skills.
Think about experience from previous jobs that applies to work in your new industry, and then make bullet points in your experience section that highlight those skills in action.
Transferable skills are valuable because they make it easier for you to transition into your next position, where you have less (or no) actual experience.
A well-written experience section for a career change resume should read something like this:
Intern at Greenway Construction, Hartford, CT
Implemented Riverway Cleanup Initiative for Connecticut River.
- Organized weekly teams of volunteers to meet and remove all litter from 2 mile section of Connecticut River embankment.
- Liaised with environmental soil sampling company to analyze riverbank soils for contaminants.
Manager of Sustainable Computer Systems, New York, NY
Led a computer recycling program that saved a company $1.3M per year and provided refurbished computers for impoverished neighborhoods.
- Earned company recognition in Local Business magazine, which inspired numerous business relationships.
- Produced and led a team of hardware designers that formed a new company operating under the same umbrella, saving other companies millions of dollars per year in recycled computer parts.
- Developed a new predictive process by which the lifecycle of specific computer parts could be anticipated and replacements ordered in advance, thereby avoiding downtime for companies.
Additionally, there are certain skills that are universally important. Leadership skills, for instance, can be applied to a broad range of professional contexts, making them a strong addition to any career change resume.
Other transferable skills you’ve probably picked up through your career include:
- Computer skills
- Problem-solving abilities
- Communication skills
- Technical skills
- Interpersonal skills
4. Emphasize relevant school experience
You can also use your resume education section to highlight transferable skills you picked up as a student.
If you completed relevant coursework that makes a strong case for you to get a job in your new industry, add it to your work experience section. You can use bullet points to highlight skills you learned in that class, like this:
You can also list a relevant class plus your GPA on your resume, and even other school honors you received. These relevant details show employers you’re more interested in their field than your work experience might first suggest.
5. List Any Relevant Certifications
Many fields require specific credentials and certifications. If you have them, position the certifications on your resume where they can be easily seen. Some creative resume templates even place your certifications at the center of the resume, which is a good way to highlight them.
If you’re unsure what certifications to get for your target industry, look at job analysis sites like Onetonline. Online resources like these have detailed information about what certifications, skills, and education are required for a wide variety of professions.
However, if you don’t have job-specific certifications that apply to your new career but have similar ones, you can mention those too. Ultimately, any professional certification or qualification is good, and should be featured on an effective career change resume.
Career Change Resume Examples
The following career change resume sample is for a sales and marketing person pursuing a career in project management in a deadline-driven industry: