Past IssuesApril 22, 2013
How to Write a Career Transition Resume
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How to Write a Career Transition Resume
By Shelagh Dillon, Demand Media
It can be difficult to match your past employment with what is required for a new career. You need the employer to focus on what you are capable of more than your past work history, which may seem otherwise irrelevant. Very often job applicants have more skills, experience and knowledge than they include in their resumes. Voluntary work, social activities and pastimes all can contribute to your valuable expertise.
Read through the job descriptions and personal specifications for jobs in the field you wish to apply for. These will give you an indication of what is required and a clearer focus for your resume. You also will be able to identify any important gaps in your knowledge and experience. A job description will tell you about the tasks involved, but a personal specification is even more useful as it outlines precisely what the employer is looking for.
Review your career to date. Write down all your qualifications, experiences and achievements. Include employment and other experience. Activities in your social life such as playing sports, taking part in community projects, volunteering and organizing family events are all possible sources of transferable skills, attributes and relevant experience. Teamwork, communication, organization, commitment and enthusiasm are valued by employers and can be applied to numerous situations. Even seemingly irrelevant experience may involve essential skills or attributes you previously had overlooked or were not required in past jobs.
Highlight the most relevant skills, experience and attributes to your new career with a highlighter pen, using the job information as a guide. This exercise will help to organize and focus the facts in a way that better reflects your new career as you write your resume. It also helps to build your confidence as you are likely to see you have more to offer than you might have thought.
Choose a resume template and style. You will find many examples on career websites. Some word processing programs such as Microsoft Word, have them written into their program, so you may have them installed on your computer. When changing careers, a competency or skills-based design draws the employer's attention to what you can do, rather than focusing on what you did in the past.
Start your resume with your personal information. For the majority of careers it is not necessary to include photographs, date of birth or anything too personal. You also are not obliged to give details of references. All you need is your name and contact details.
Write a short profile to go near the top. Include a brief description of yourself as an employee and what you hope to achieve in your future career. Keep it short, up to six lines. Your resume is your shop window and your profile attracts attention and keeps the reader interested. Ideally, write in the first person but do not use too many "I" statements.
List your key skills or competencies. Select six to 10 of the skills most relevant to the job, referring to your highlighted list. List skills individually, or group together under general headings such as leadership, communication, technology or management. Give examples of how you used those skills. For example: "Developed team leadership skills as captain of the local hockey team," or "As a hospital receptionist I frequently dealt with difficult people in a diplomatic fashion to achieve a win-win outcome."
Outline your employment history, starting with the most recent. Even with a skills-based resume the employer will want to see your history and may pick up on employment gaps. Include the date, the company, job title and brief explanation of your responsibilities. A sentence or two is sufficient. Short gaps can be disguised on your resume by mentioning the month and year or just the year. Longer gaps may require an explanation but where possible, make it a positive experience. For example: "After being laid off, I took the opportunity to study, take on freelance work and reconsider my career direction."
Insert any relevant qualifications specific to the career you are applying for. Include the dates, educational facilities and significant results. Although employers are more interested in your work experience and abilities than certificates and diplomas, where it is necessary to hold specific qualifications for the job or a minimum level of education, you should mention them.
Complete your resume with any relevant additional information you think the employer should know but has not been mentioned.
Shelagh Dillon has extensive experience gained from more than 34 years in business, human resources, training and personal development. Beginning her professional writing career in 2007 for her own website and blog, she has since been published in the "Edinburgh Evening News" and written extensively for various websites.