If you’ve decided it’s time for a new career direction, crafting a resume that positions you as a star candidate can be… tricky. What do you do when you want to break into marketing but until now you’ve only held finance roles? How do you compete with people who come with years of experience in the field that you want to get into?
The key is to focus on the value of what you can offer. By being targeted about what you include in your resume, and how you present it, you can balance out your lack of direct experience with your passion, commitment and relevant skills.
Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at TopResume, a resume-writing service, puts it like this:
“You must evaluate your experience, education, and professional development and skills to determine what’s considered important for your new career, and then you’ll have to re-position or re-brand yourself.”
Start from scratch
You need to look over your skill set and experience with a fresh pair of eyes. Try not to be lazy and think you can update your years-old resume by drafting in a few references to your new career ambitions. Instead, be determined to have laser focus on what skills your new sector or role calls for and build your resume around that.
Highlight relevant experience
What ever you do – don’t be tempted to give every minute and intricate detail of your career history. Your prospective employer will not have the time to sieve through all of that! Instead, try to pull out the specific duties, projects and achievements that demonstrate you have used the skills you need in your new career, or are examples of direct experience. For example, maybe you joined a marketing steering group within your finance department that gave you great insight into marketing techniques that you can bring with you to your new role. Or you were on a short-term communications working group that helped develop your skills in communicating with the general public or within a B2B network. Draw attention to anything relevant, even if it wasn’t the main part of your job.
As a career-changer, you’re likely to score lower on experience points when it comes to both your resume and at the interview stage. But where you can equal or even beat your more experienced competition is in demonstrating your passion and commitment for the particular role you are after.
If you’re changing career it’s likely you’ve gone out of your way to retrain, volunteer, seize opportunities, gain working experience or take on new projects that were related to your goals. This positions you as someone who’s not only passionate about their new direction, but who’s being proactive in their personal and professional development – which is highly attractive to any recruiter.
Watch your language
Make sure you use terminology from your new sector, both in your resume and in person during interviews – try not to use jargon from your old career, especially if it was in a completely unrelated field. This does two things: it makes it easier for your recruiter to understand you because you’re speaking their language (making it as easy as possible for your recruiter to choose you is always a good thing). And it shows you’re confident and comfortable in how your new sector communicates, making you seem less of a newbie.
At the end of the day, it is all about showcasing what you’ve got in the best possible light. So make sure you structure your resume accordingly and also follow through in the same way at interview. There are no iron-clad rules about the perfect format for your resume. The sole purpose of your resume is to entice your recruiter into thinking you’re worth a shot at interview. So if you need to put your skills above experience to get noticed, or provide a slightly longer profile section to get your message across, do it.