Resume Tips for a Successful Career Change
People change careers all the time for many different reasons. Maybe you’re pursuing a promotion, preparing to enter a new industry, or planning to switch to a completely different profession, your biggest challenge is highlighting the skills and knowledge that support your new career direction.
Find Your Focus
Changing careers is a more complex process than making a linear career move (e.g. pursuing the exact same job at a different company). Maybe you’re ready to advance your career with your current employer by pursuing a promotion; or maybe you want to remain in your current job role but break into a completely different industry; or you’re ready to leave your current profession/industry altogether to start a brand new, entirely different career.
In your job search, you’ll need to be very clear and specific about the job/job title you’ll be pursuing so that you can plan an effective strategy made up of decisive action steps to achieve that goal.
Do Your Research
Once you have established the position you plan to pursue in your job search, you’ll need to find out what skills, knowledge, and experience that employers require for the targeted job candidate. This is crucial because when you understand a potential employer’s needs, you’ll be better prepared to align yourself as a qualified candidate.
Finding this information is a simple matter of researching multiple annouoncements for the targeted job title and identifying the most common requirements. Then take inventory of your current skills and experience in comparison to these requirements.
Identify Your Key Transferrable Skills
You may not realize it, but you probably have some of the skills necessary for the position you’re aiming for. Many of the skills you obtain throughout your professional career are what are known as transferrable skills; meaning they are skills valued across various industries and professions.
Many “soft skills” like communication and presentation skills, organizational skills, project planning and coordinations skills, research and analytics, time and resource management, etc. These skills sound pretty general at first glance. Your job is to present these skills in a way that’s relevant to a prospective employer and a specific job’s requirements.
Highlight Your Relevant Skills and Knowledge
You can’t afford to just follow some tired, recycled resume template and expect to impress employers enough that they’ll to invite you to interview. REMEMBER: you’re very likely competing with qualified applicants that already have a record of experience in the job you’re targeting, so utilize every strategy at your disposal to get noticed.
How you present information on your resume matters. You can tactically highlight and downplay information to make you shine. Utilize common marketing techniques like headlines and sub-headlines, value proposition statements, bullets (don’t just use them willy nilly; be strategic!), bold print, italics, text boxes, and shading. You can also add-on and/or expand sections in the resume that you want to stand out. For example, include a “Professional Development” section to elaborate on any relevant training and/or credentials you’ve achieved in your desired field. You can also move relevant volunteer experience over to the “Professional Experience” section; and consider sharing testimonials for even more impact.
Whether you’re changing careers with the goal of getting your foot in the door at the entry-level or maintaining your executive leadership status across multiple industries, the burden of proof with your resume lies in your ability to effectively communicate your skills, knowledge, and expertise in a way that is relevant and meaningful to prospective employers.
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