I am a master’s level career counselor. I am internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International and have been recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors
Career changes aren't easy, especially if you don't have a new job already waiting in the wings. You'll need to update your resume and tailor it for a leap from one industry to another. But how can you do this without alienating potential employers? Here are seven tips for making the transition.
1: Use A Template
Don't send out your regular resume when you're trying to switch careers. Different industries have different standards, and you'll need to conform if you don't want to make it obvious that you're an outsider. Find a good sample resume and then customize it using your own experiences and qualifications.
2: Focus on Transferable Skills
Avoid padding your resume with skills and achievements that will mean nothing in your new position. Instead, emphasize talents that are universal or easily utilized in a variety of fields. For example, having a good grasp of office software is beneficial to both financial analysts and middle school teachers. Excellent verbal communication skills are a necessity of flight attendants and sales associates alike.
3: Write A Passionate Cover Letter
According to the Washington Post, 75 percent of hiring managers will consider an applicant with a good cover letter even if they aren't fully qualified for the position. Passion is your greatest asset here; unlike resumes, which have to follow formats and guidelines, cover letters can come straight from the heart. Make your case with enthusiasm and drive.
4: Lead With Your Qualifications
If you can begin your resume with a strong headline, employers will be much more likely to overlook a thin job history. For instance, even if you've never worked as a medical assistant before, you can still describe yourself as a "newly certified Home Health Aide (HHA) with a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University." They don't have to know that it was in political science.
5: Emphasize Your Novelty
If you don't want to downplay your unrelated work experience, go in the opposite direction and wield it like a tool. As an applicant with a nontraditional background, you'll bring fresh perspectives and unique ideas to the job, and you won't have any bad habits to break. You're perfect for molding into the ideal employee. Weave this line of thinking into your objective or cover letter.
6: Mention All Relevant Experience
Don't be shy about listing experiences just because they weren't from a previous job. You probably didn't decide on a career switch without inspiration from somewhere, so mention the business seminar or professional development group that put the idea in your head. Include all your freelancing or self-directed work since then.
7: Beware Gaps
It's common for large gaps to appear in your resume when you trim it down to appropriate and industry-specific parts. However, you shouldn't allow yourself more than one or two chasms unless you want to appear chronically unemployed. Leave off the months in your dates or supplement your job list with the volunteer work and training courses you've done in the meantime.
If you're serious about breaking into a fresh industry, use these seven tips for a new and improved resume. Employers won't mind your evolution as long as you sell yourself correctly.