It’s often the case that the thing we start out doing workwise isn’t necessarily the right path. Each year, countless Americans don’t just look to switch jobs but, rather, switch careers entirely. And I should know, because I’m one of them. In fact, my experience runs the gamut from hedge fund associate to toy designer to marketer to personal finance writer, where I’ve happily landed. Along the way, I’ve had to create my fair share of resumes to allow for these changes. With that in mind, here are some tips for crafting a resume when you’re going from one industry to another.
1. Highlight your most transferrable skills
No matter where you work or what you do, there are certain universal job skills that are just plain valuable — and these are the ones you should aim to highlight on your resume when you’re looking at a career change. For example, I’ve always been fairly adept at time management, and so when it came time to make the switch from hedge fund associate to toy designer, I made sure to highlight that skill on my resume in different ways. Some other skills you should aim to promote are communication and organization — attributes that are needed in pretty much every industry.
2. Craft an opening statement geared toward the profession you’re interested in
A strong resume is one that has a solid opening statement, which sets the tone for the reader and draws him or her in. While this is the perfect place on your resume to explain who you are and what you’re good at, it’s also a great way to promote yourself as someone who’s equipped to work in a brand-new field. For example, if you’re looking to go from lawyer to graphic designer, you can highlight your ability to stay cool under pressure and approach each assignment you’re given with a unique and creative perspective.
3. Create a functional resume, not a chronological one
Most of the resumes you’ll see out there are chronological in nature, meaning they’re essentially a rundown of a given candidate’s work history and education. And in many situations, these resumes work just fine. But if your goal is to switch careers, then it pays to submit a functional resume instead.
A functional resume is one that focuses on your skills and experience, rather than serve as a biographical summary of your career to date. The benefit of using a functional resume is that you’ll get a chance to really delve into the talents that make you suitable for the roles you’re applying to. Or, to put it another way, a functional resume allows you to focus on relevance rather than work history.
When I was applying for a marketing job, I chose to highlight the fact that as a toy designer, I was also responsible for designing the packages my products would go into, as well as pitching those product ideas in the first place. I didn’t bother getting into the nitty-gritty of my hedge fund experience on my resume because it wasn’t particularly relevant — though when I interviewed, I did bring up that job and the fact it really taught me how to be organized, manage my time, and thrive under pressure.
Remember, the point of submitting a resume is to get yourself invited for an actual job interview, and that’s where you really get an opportunity to sell yourself. Make your resume as appealing and relevant as possible, and you’ll increase your chances of getting to the interview stage and beyond.
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