Whatever your reasons for switching career paths, it’s important to realize that your old methods, which may have been sufficient for landing you a job in your established field, may need some retooling.
Especially during times of economic upheaval, career changes are made for practical reasons, in response to industry changes that result in lack of jobs, too much competition, or less attractive future prospects.
That means creating a resume that will help you market your best transferable skills.
1. Highlight valuable experiences
If your past professional experience has little application to this career switch, you may be able to make up for it by emphasizing work done outside of office hours. Show that you have a passion for the new field and have been taking every opportunity to develop your skills. Think about projects in your past that allowed you to develop transferable skills — including related education, training, and volunteer work.
2. Be Specific
Each job teaches us something, and those things can be widely used elsewhere. For instance, your time management skills or knowledge of certain computer programs would be useful in almost any position.
Zero in on those skills that would be most interesting to the person looking to fill the position. Whatever format you choose, your new resume (or resumes) should be comprehensive, but not overwhelming. Your time at a PR firm may be impressive, but not so much to a hiring manager looking for a tech assistant.
3. Don’t fear the qualification gaps
Focus on showing your strengths and abilities in the most compelling way possible. Your enthusiasm and bravery in switching fields will come through in your cover and resume, and lead you straight to the interview. So don’t be intimidated at the thought of being less than 100% qualified.
For candidates from unrelated professional backgrounds, there will be qualification gaps. Many employers would rather hire someone who’s an 80–90% fit, but has great enthusiasm and willingness to learn. However, keep in mind that few job candidates meet 100% of every single desired qualification.
4. Prepare for resume rewrites
It’s always smart to customize your resume for each new position to which you apply, reworking to highlight the skills and past experience most relevant for each job. A common mistake career changers make is to use the same resumes that worked in their previous careers.
However, it’s even more important for career changers to present a customized resume that clearly demonstrates your fit for this new career.
5. Make a strong first impression
Don’t assume that the reader can make the leap between your experience as an attorney and your fit for a marketing position. The cover letter is your first impression with many hiring managers and an opportunity to convey the meaningful connections between your professional past and the skills you can bring to the job going forward.