It may be a cliché, but the sentiment is true: you only have one chance to make a first impression. This notion is especially important when it comes to your resume.
If you’re considering a career change, you will need to change your resume to reflect your transferable skills and experience. Aspiring candidates also need to address the way a resume looks and make sure the format works for the industry or employers being targeted. If your resume has not been updated in several years, you will probably want to rethink the template you used to create it. Today, the look, feel and content of your resume are all extremely important to applicant success.
While your experience and qualifications should be what a potential employer notices about you, a career-change resume that creates an amazing first impression is what initially gets most candidates through the door. Here are some tips from the team at University of Phoenix to help candidates prepare their resumes for a career change.
Research Career-Change Resume Requirements
Before you put pen to paper, research your new career field. Every industry has its own requirements for skills, experience and training. For instance, is your experience more important than specific training courses you’ve taken? According to Steven Starks, senior manager of career advising at University of Phoenix, answering questions like this is key to finding success in a new field.
“Research online job postings to identify the knowledge and skills employers require,” Starks says. “Additionally, talk to at least three people in the role you’re targeting to understand what the job is really like including the people, projects and performance metrics it encompasses. Then, reflect on your experience to pinpoint parts of your background that directly match or strongly relate to your desired role. This may come from work history, volunteer activities or education.”
Review Your Resume Format
Next, consult a career advisor who can provide templates to build your resume. Most people use one of three types of resume formats:
- Chronological: The most common type, this style begins with your most recent or your current role and moves in reverse chronological order through your previous work experience.
- Functional: This type organizes your experience by skills instead of employment dates. This can be helpful when changing careers since it highlights your most relevant experience. Potential employers can easily see the connection between your skill set and the open position. For example, if switching from teaching to IT, you can emphasize your use of technology to manage class routines, propose solutions or fix problems.
- Combination: These resumes offer the best of both worlds. You can organize the document chronologically but highlight skills and qualifications that are most important to a new industry.
Style and Content Are Important
When researching your new industry, pay attention to how others organize their own resumes. If you are lucky enough to see a current resume from someone who landed a job, explore what made it successful. You don’t want to copy their resume exactly, but you can use it as a guide for style and the type of content to include from your own experiences. .
University of Phoenix shares several key resume tips to consider regardless of your chosen career field:
Less Is More
Limit your resume to two pages at most, and avoid including detailed information about previous jobs or supervisors. Make every word count and pinpoint the exact skills, training, achievements and experience you want to showcase. You can demonstrate your experience while also omitting extraneous words or phrases as well as any previous roles that are not relevant to your career change. Don’t feel you need to write in complete sentences (consistent bullet points are easier for recruiters to read), and don’t include your complete home mailing address.
Use Numbers When You Can
Include statistics, numbers and metrics that show how you are a top performer capable of making positive change in the workplace. If you do not have specific figures, you can include short success stories to show where you have made a positive impact. Just don’t get too long winded with the details.
Don’t Use Jargon
It’s natural to speak in your current industry’s language, but someone in a new field might not understand what you are trying to convey. For instance, the same abbreviations can mean different things across various industries. Be specific about what you have achieved without assuming your reader is familiar with your background.
Omit the Objective Statement
These are out of date in today’s world of candidate recruitment. Instead, you can start your resume with a few bullet points that highlight the most relevant qualifications and keywords a hiring manager may be looking for in a particular position.
Use Action Verbs
Instead of “responsible for” or “duties include,” make your experience more impactful. Start with and use action verbs that indicate the work and achievements you have experienced in a way that readers can envision. Examples include terms like increased, spearheaded, led or grew in tandem with the task or result you accomplished.
Consider a Career Advisor
Changing careers is a significant milestone. A career advisor has insider knowledge of specific industries and can help you focus your resume appropriately. The professionals will also offer an unbiased, third-party view of your resume and cover letters. Career advisors can also serve as sounding boards and help you practice interviewing skills.
“Career advisors can help you identify accomplishments from your work history and offer an objective, fresh perspective on the strengths you bring to the table,” Starks says. “Oftentimes, job seekers struggle to recognize the positive impact they’ve made in the workplace. Perhaps they’re too modest or simply can’t remember. By asking thought-provoking questions, career advisors can help you draw out these details from your career.”
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix focuses on opportunities for higher education so adult students can gain the skills and knowledge needed to further their professional goals. By providing students with what they need to succeed, these students can improve their communities and organizations both now and in the future. University of Phoenix offers quality, value, excellence and convenience in education to students all over the country.