Here are seven ways to refresh your resume if you’re seeking a career change.
Many people cruise along on their career path only to eventually come to a fork in the road and decide it's time for something new. The average employee changes jobs 10 to 15 times throughout his or her entire career, and switching careers altogether has become part of the norm. If you're ready for a career switch, the last thing you want to do is start over. After all, you already have years' worth of education, experience, training, and credentials under your belt. So how can you best apply these qualities to your career transition?
It's important to organize and update your resume, making it applicable to the new kind of position you're looking for. Our resume experts at TopResume can help, starting with a free resume review with personalized feedback and recommendations as they pertain to new job opportunities and career growth.
You don't have to start from a clean slate, but there are some essential elements your resume should include (or exclude), as illustrated below. It may look a whole lot different than what you're used to!
1. The job seeker's goals are clear
Define your new job goal up front and detail why you are qualified for the position. If you have minimal experience in the field, you can still glean qualifications and skills from your previous job experience. For example, a senior-level position highlights management and leadership potential, a hybrid role with multiple responsibilities shows flexibility and adaptability, and highlighting certifications and awards portrays dedication to stay on top of current industry trends.
2. Achievements are quantified where possible
Numbers help paint a better picture for potential employers. Vague language like “managed budgets” and “cut costs” aren't nearly as impressive as specifying that the budget was $1 million or that you cut costs by 20 percent. Direct numbers highlight your contributions and accomplishments in a way that is easy for recruiters and employers to assess.
The assumption is that you have met your job role expectations, but what have you done beyond the basic job description? Potential employers want to see a candidate that stands out, not one who only does the minimum. Numbers are a quantifiable way to showcase excellence in your previous role(s).
3. The resume plays up the job seeker's best selling points
If you're looking for a career change, you may have limited experience that pertains to the new industry and/or position you're seeking. In this case, highlight other positives instead. This may include adapting new skills or learning advanced programs. It can also be reflected in your extracurricular activities, like volunteer opportunities or leadership positions in different organizations. Draw attention to what makes you stand out as a job candidate, not what may make you underqualified.
4. The resume is optimized with relevant keywords
Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to pre-screen resumes and rank them based on content. Only the most qualified candidates are then forwarded to HR for review. Ensure your resume includes keywords that are included in the posted job description or a position similar to what you're looking for. It will help your resume from getting overlooked.
5. The resume format is consistent
There are an endless number of formats people choose for their resumes. The key is to be consistent with details like capitalization, numbers, dates, and abbreviations. For example, if you spell out a state in one job role, don't abbreviate it in another. When it comes to making a first impression with your resume, it's all about the details. A resume that has consistent formatting and is free of grammatical errors will look more polished and professional.
6. The emphasis is placed on the job seeker's most recent work experience
Applicants with multiple job roles don't need to list a full description and bullet points for each position. Your current role is the one that should have the longest description and detail your responsibilities and achievements. If your most recent role isn't relevant to your current job goals, you can limit this information and highlight the areas that are more applicable. Your resume should paint a chronological picture of your work history and advancement with the most significant information listed at the top.
7. The “Education” section is at the end of the resume
If you're considering a career change, then you're probably beyond an entry-level resume which typically places education more closely to the top. For mid-level professionals and above, move your education section to the end. Although your educational background is still important, it's not as big of a selling point as your skills and experience in the workforce.
A career change can be an exciting time, but you want to make sure you're well prepared to enter a new industry by updating your resume. Sell your skills and soar to the top of recruiting lists by addressing each of these seven points. Once your resume is more reflective of your future goals in the industry you desire, the easier it will be to match you with potential job opportunities that meet your career aspirations.
Still struggling with your career-change resume? TopResume is here to help.