If you’re changing careers, you may not have the same skill set and work experience other applicants have just yet. You’re often working from square one, trying to make a case for why you’re a desirable candidate.
Here’s how to create a resume for changing careers that celebrates your prior experience and provides context for future opportunities.
6 updates to make on your career change resume
Showcase prior experience.
Even if your prior experience is entirely unrelated to the new role you’re applying for, there’s still a chance to showcase soft skills and relevant hard skills on your new resume.
For example: if you were a nurse that’s now applying for software engineering roles, you may still leverage your prior experience to depict your problem solving, leadership, and empathy skills. Just because the roles are different doesn’t mean your prior experience goes to waste. For budding professionals in new industries, hiring managers are looking for someone that can fit into culture and can grow within a company.
Use a template that shows your new and former skills.
There are an infinite number of ways to format your resume, but a template that shows your prior experience and skillset against the skillset you’ve gained in order to apply for this role may be a good way to show hiring managers any parallels.
In fact, we recommend using a template that highlights your most promising assets, be it your education, prior experience, or relevant skills list.
Add a skills section.
Certain skills lend themselves to certain industries. These skills can be the use of software or tools, spoken languages, business acumen, or other proficiencies. While someone with more experience may be able to speak to these skills within their experience, you may do yourself a service by listing them separately and speaking to your capabilities aside from on-the-job experience.
Add a professional summary or objective statement.
Again, for other candidates who have more on-the-job experience, this section may not be necessary. For those who are changing careers, creating a professional summary or explaining what your objective in this new role is can give a hiring manager some context and insight into your motivations. It also gives you a chance to streamline your prior and future experience, sprinkled in with any anecdotes about your education or skill set.
Update your education section with certifications or courses.
In today’s educational environment, traditional schooling isn’t the only education you can flex. If you’ve completed a bootcamp, a certification, or any type of additional training course that taught you actionable skills, list them! Education comes in many forms and it’s important that hiring managers know the steps you’ve taken to further your studies. Plus, completing these courses shows you’re willing to continue learning on the job so companies can train you into the employee they’re looking for.
Link to your portfolio or any other projects.
A portfolio is relevant in some industries and not in others. If it’s relevant to yours, don’t send a resume without a link or an attachment to one. Whether it’s showcasing coding projects, articles you’ve copywritten, graphic design projects, or interior design examples, you should have a working document or site that allows a potential employer to see what you’ve worked on.
While there are some must-do’s on a career change resume, there are a few do-not’s, as well.
5 items to leave off your career change resume
Hiring managers don’t need to see your picture. Plus, photos may mess up the formatting of your resume so it won’t go through the proper scanning software.
It’s a common mistake career changers make — fattening your resume with all the prior experience in the world, hoping something sticks out to a hiring manager.
You’re better off padding your career change resume with experience, proof of skills, and education that are actually relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Social media profiles (that aren’t required).
Throw your LinkedIn on your resume and your Twitter if it’s relevant, but leave off personal Facebook and Instagram profiles. It could actually do more damage than good, and you want your professional self to shine through.
Buzzwords or too many “I” statements.
Certain keywords that are relevant to your experience — like if you led a project or created a new process, for example — are great to include. Stuffing your resume with keywords in the hope that it’ll get picked up on hiring software is not.
Don’t be tempted by elaborate, colorful, eye-popping formatting and color schemes for your career change resume. Keep it simple, straightforward, easy to read, and in black and white.