Resume Writing Tips for Career Changers

When you’re not just looking for a new job but a new career, you need a new resume. Here are some crucial career change resume tips that will help you position yourself for your big leap.

Start with a relevant headline.

Write the job title of the  opening you’re applying for, such as “Marketing Consultant,” as a headline between your name and contact information and the rest of the resume. The top of your resume is a valuable spot for a first impression; don’t waste it on an empty word like “Summary.”

Build a compelling summary (just don’t bother labeling it as such).

If the first thing employers see is your Experience section, headed by a job that’s very different from the job you’re applying for, it’s easy for the employer to reject you, thinking “This person doesn’t have the right experience.” Instead, focus their attention first and foremost on your relevant qualifications. Here are some elements you might include in this summary.

Targeted introductory paragraph or bullet points: Here is where you summarize your key selling points or unique selling proposition. It might look like this:

  • BA in Business Administration with Marketing emphasis expected in May 2018.
  • Early experience as Marketing Coordinator, followed by accomplished sales career.
  • Extensive experience collaborating with Marketing as Sales Manager for top (industry) firms including X and Y.
  • Data-driven and highly analytical, as demonstrated by (very briefly mention an achievement or chunk of experience that proves this).

Keep this section very short, especially if you use a paragraph instead of bullets. Anything dense here is likely to be ignored.

Competencies block: List your skills and areas of knowledge using brief words and phrases such as “team leadership,” “project management,” “Salesforce,” and so on, so employers can see at a glance that you have the know-how. (Tip: A two-column or three-column arrangement saves space compared to a single-column list.)

“Translate” your Experience section to show how your skills are transferable.

Consider adding to your job title lines. Let’s say you’re seeking a position as a Human Resources Generalist, and your past job title was Office Manager – but half of the job really involved doing the work of a Human Resources Generalist. You can show that you were a de facto HR Generalist – without claiming you officially held that title – by writing it like this:

Office Manager (and Human Resources Generalist), Brown Educational Software, Inc.

Or if the HR duties were only a small part of the role, write this instead:

Office Manager (including Human Resources responsibilities), Brown Educational Software, Inc.

Either way, putting these important keywords in the job title will allow your resume to perform well in applicant tracking systems as well as in the eyes of the reader. (And you can do the same on LinkedIn, by the way.)

Emphasize what’s relevant. Describe your past job duties in terms familiar to the field you want to go into. For example, let’s say you used to do social media work and now you want to do grant writing for nonprofits. Some aspects of your previous job may not be transferable, but your ability to write concise, attention-getting content may be relevant and valuable.

The resume is just one component.

As important as your resume is, it isn’t going to get you into a new career by itself. More than other job seekers, career changers need to network effectively, get any additional training or experience they need, and so on. Plan a smart, up-to-date job search campaign in which your well-targeted career-change resume is one of many strong components.

Afraid to Make a Career Change?

Afraid to make a career change?Are you hanging onto a job you don’t like, because you’re afraid of looking for a better one?

Why is it that the fear of change so often trumps the desire for fulfillment?

Human beings have a built-in tendency to be anxious and risk-averse – what  neuropsychologist and author Rick Hanson calls the “negativity bias.”

“The nervous system has been evolving for 600 million years, from ancient jellyfish to modern humans,” wrote Hanson.

Our ancestors had to make a critical decision many times a day: approach a reward or avoid a hazard — pursue a carrot or duck a stick.

Those “sticks” were potentially fatal: dangerous wild animals, physical attacks from competitors, starvation. The “carrots” were rewards like food, socializing and sex. (Still popular after all these years!)

So a risk-averse caveman might fail to take a risk at killing a mammoth one day, but live to hunt again the next day. While a too-daring caveman might just die young.

You can see how evolution favored risk-averse people.

do we really need to be that fearful now? In terms of looking for a new job, we may be terrified of rejection, failure, stress, disruption – but these problems are survivable.

Fear is very unpleasant, and there are ways to decrease it, for example by working to change the beliefs that are making us fearful. But some fear will probably persist, so we also need to learn to live with it.

The key is, we can choose not to let it rule us. We can start doing whatever it is we would do if we weren’t afraid.

Feel the fear but take action anyway.

Make a plan, take steps toward your goal (even “baby steps”!), and find sources of support – a buddy, a good self-help book, a career coach. Do it even if you don’t feel confident.

Your mind is going to worry and fear, in a misguided effort to protect you. There’s no need to get angry about that. In fact, appreciate your mind for wanting to protect you.

Fear doesn’t have to stop you. Start doing what you really want to do.

Career Choice: Don’t Bark Up the Wrong Tree!

job search, jobsIf you’re considering a career change, it’s important to know not only what you are good at and enjoy, but where the best opportunities are.

Understanding both of these factors helps ensure you’re not “barking up the wrong tree.”

If you’re talented and driven enough to succeed in a glutted occupation like rock star, astronaut or librarian (!), I’m not saying you shouldn’t give it a shot. But too often I’ve seen job seekers struggle because they didn’t take these factors into account when they first made their decision – or they just didn’t know the facts.

The Department of Labor is a treasure trove for information on occupations, including statistics on their growth or shrinkage, which is a good indication of the level of demand. Look up occupations you’re considering at America’s Career InfoNet or O*NET. You’ll also find out about working conditions, skills and education required, and much more.

Which occupations have particularly good prospects these days? A recent Careerbuilder survey states that employers are having difficulty filling openings for the following:

  • Sales Representative
  • Machine Operator/Assembler/Production Worker
  • Nurse
  • Truck Driver
  • Software Developer
  • Engineer
  • Marketing Professional
  • Accountant
  • Mechanic  IT Manager/Network Administrator

You’ll also want to know whether your target industry is growing, especially if you have highly “portable” skills such as IT or accounting. America Career InfoNet’s top 50 span a wide range, from healthcare and aging-related industries through satellite telecoms, management consultants and even masonry contractors. Other online sources show lists that look very different, probably due to differing ways of interpreting the statistics. Check more than one source.

Choosing an occupation shouldn’t be based entirely on gut feelings or happenstance. It’s worth doing some research!