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How to write a career change resume

Your career change resume is a major weapon when you want to move in a different direction in your career.

The secret to career change resume writing is that you need to create a believable case about your suitability for a job in this new career direction.

You will be in a situation where your past employment history, on the face of it, doesn't seem relevant to your new career aspirations.

So, how do you do make your past experience relevant? Which resume style is best for this task?

Career change resume writing
Choose the right resume style

There are three commonly used resume layouts or resume styles. These are:

Of the three styles, the reverse chronological resume is the least helpful to people who are looking to land a career change job.

Why?, I hear you ask. Isn't this the most commonly used resume style? Yes, that's true, this is the style most people automatically choose when they want to build a resume.

But....take a look at the layout of this resume style. Pay particular attention to what information is usually presented in the reverse chronological style resume under the 'Professional Experience' or 'Career History' headings.

You'll no doubt notice that for each job you list in this section of your resume, it is expected that you provide significant detail about the scope of that particular role, and some of your achievements specific to that role.

When an employer reads a reverse chronological resume they expect a logical career progression. That's why people who are pursuing a career in the same or similar field, doing similar sort of work choose the reverse chronological style.

In other words, if you use this resume style, you are building a case that your career has evolved in a way the reader might expect. You are trying to create the impression that this next career move is a logical step for someone in your current line of work.

Let me give you an example.

Let's say that you are working in the accounting field, but now want a career change job which takes you into the training and development field.

By demonstrating in your resume that the main focus of your career in the past has been on accounting roles it will be difficult to demonstrate to an employer why you might suitable for a training related role.

It's not likely they'll see the link between past your career, and your desired future career direction.

That is, unless you provide considerable detail in your resume about skills and experience that relate to being a trainer, even though you've been working as an accountant

There's a saying which might help explain this further - if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck....then it must be a duck!

Change the word 'duck' to 'accountant' then you begin to get the picture.

Career change resume - the functional resume

The functional resume is likely to be the best resume style to use to build your case about your suitability for the career change job opportunity you are targeting.

Compare the layout for the functional resume with the reverse chronological resume layout and you'll notice two main differences. These are:

  1. The functional resume will have a skills summary which uses functional skill sub headings with some accompanying and related bullet points under each heading. These functional headings are really headings which describe your transferable skills.
  2. There is the bare minimum amount of detail provided for each job listed under the 'Professional Experience' or 'Career History' headings.

So, why does this approach work?

The reason it works is that you are only highlighting skills, achievements and elements of previous jobs which are relevant to the new role.

By leaving stuff out of your resume that isn't relevant to, or doesn't support the case for a career change you're more likely to get the response you are seeking..... a job interview.

Career change resume
The combination style resume

The fact that a combination style resume exists, and is acceptable to many employers and recruiters illustrates the point that when you build a resume, there really isn't a right or wrong way to do it or a 'best resumes' approach.

Rules for how to build a resume

The only rules I have about how to build a resume, or to produce one of the best resumes are:

  • You must target the content of your resume to each job role you are trying to win - a generic, 'one size fits all resume' is guaranteed to fail!
  • Choose a resume style that helps build a relevant and credible case about your suitability for the job role.

Realise that each of the three resume styles is designed to produce a different impact on the reader.

How to use a combination style resume

I suggest the way to use the combination style resume as a career change resume is to do these things:

  1. After you've written your profile, make the next heading in your resume 'Related Career Achievements' or similar.
  2. Under this heading use functional skills headings, that is, headings related to the transferable skills needed in the new job.
  3. Then under each transferable skill or functional skill heading write about some of your achievements where you have used this skill
  4. Under the 'Professional Experience' or 'Career History' heading provide the same type of minimal detail about the job as you would for the function resume.

So, what's the difference between the approaches for the functional and combination style resumes being described here?

The main difference is that in the combination style resume you are writing about your achievements, but these are classified or organised under functional or transferable skill headings.

In the functional style resume you are simply making statements about relevant transferable skills that you have, but you choose not to refer to, or don't have any specific career achievements to include.

Obviously you make a much stronger case about your suitability for the career change job when you write about both your skills, and how you have used them to achieve specific, and relevant results, or achievements.

Writing about your achievements or career highlights

Not sure how to write powerful statements to describe your achievements?

Check out the career highlights section of the website.

Career changed resume - Summary

The secret to building an effective career change resume writing is this.

Choose a resume style which enables you to construct a solid case..... that you possess the transferable skills needed in the career change job that you are targeting.

Ensure when you build your resume that you write about transferable skills that the employer is wanting the successful candidate to have.

In other words make sure your career change resume is suitably targeted.

New! Comments

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