5 Resume Tips for Those Making a Career Switch

In this article, we discuss our top tips for writing a resume when making a switch in your career.

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Making the switch to a new career path can be daunting. How to stand out from a field of applicants who may have more experience working within the industry than you do?

Changing career paths is certainly possible, and writing an excellent resume is one of the first and most important steps to getting it done. In this article, we examine what skills to highlight, and other important aspects of writing a resume that will get the right kind of attention from potential employers.

Update Your Skills

You don’t necessarily need to go back to school to create a resume that will make you eligible for a new career path. Doing so can help, particularly if you are interested in entering a field that changes so dramatically as time passes (tech, data processing, etc.).

You do, however, need to be able to show potential employers that even though you’ve been in one position for a long time, your skills haven’t stagnated.

In other words, dusting off your old resume, punching in your last position, and sending it out probably won’t get you very far.

Think about skills you have developed in your previous career path that might be relevant to the job you hope to get. Of course, the skills you list should be honest and sincere. However, there is more room for creativity than you might first assume.

For example, fluency in various technologies specific to your old job might well be valuable to the position you are trying to get, even if they aren’t strictly related. Why? A new employer will want to see that you can adopt and adapt to new tools.

Feel Things Out

It’s important to go in with an understanding of what the language surrounding this new career path is trying to communicate. What words are hiring managers using in their listings, and what sort of language are successful applicants using in their resumes?

While job listings often feel generic and cookie-cutter, there are subtle distinctions that may help clue you in as to what the employer is looking for in an applicant. The closer you can match that tone, the more likely it will be that you get hired.

KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)

Overused, perhaps, but always effective. Keeping it simple, sweety is an important aspect of writing a compelling resume. Imagine the number of applications businesses offering desirable jobs get. There could be dozens or more people applying for one position.

It’s easy to mistakenly assume that a good resume should be a door stopper that describes everything clever or good you’ve ever done in your life.

No. Hiring managers don’t want an autobiography. They want clear, concrete insights into how you will perform on the job. Be highly selective in what information you include in your resume, and aim for a punchy, readable document that will stand out in a thick stack.

Build a Personal Brand

The modern business world is all about branding. Consumers like to support businesses that match their values. Customer X buys from business Y not just because he thinks their cappuccinos are top-notch, but because they share his enthusiasm for fair trade. Customer Q frequents thrift store W not for the distinctly moth-eaten smell, but because like them, she believes in the importance of sustainable fashion.

Branding is the story behind the product. Or, in this case, the story behind the applicant. Ideally, your resume will explain what’s important to you and how that translates into your professional behaviour. Of course, this is the digital era where personal information is just a Google search away. Your personal brand image has to appear not just on the page, but anywhere a potential employer might look.

If your resume says you are a marketer who cares about mother Earth, your Twitter account shouldn’t tell the story of Joe Schmoe who likes to litter.  Everything you post on social media should be, if not in support of your personal brand, at least not in contradiction to it.

Also, note that you can attempt to match your personal brand to that of the business you are applying to. Most companies will give you a very clear look at their values somewhere on their website. Of course, you shouldn’t invent a persona to match that of the company you are applying to.

You can, however, find sincere ways to explain how your values are similar to theirs.

Answer the Question: Why?

Yes, why. Why, after working job A, have you decided to migrate into career path B? This question will be on the mind of whoever examines your resume, so you need to be able to answer it.

Your cover letter is the most appropriate place to address this. Explain what you admire about the career path you are pursuing, and how your skills make you suitable for the job.

This article was guest written by Andrew Deen.

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