Changing your resumé so you can switch careers can be like baking cupcakes instead of a layer cake: You can use the same ingredients, but they have to be put in a different pan. In other words, you can use the same skills and abilities, but you have to present them in a new way.
In these situations, it’s best to talk more about who you are and less about what you’ve done, advises Tony Di Gaetano, an instructor in the University of Phoenix MBA program who holds workshops for people thinking of switching careers.
He advises reorganizing your resumé without an employment history — or with a minimal one — since your work experience could make you less appealing to a prospective employer in a different field. Here are his five steps for how career changers should structure their new resumés:
1. Define your brand at the top of the page.Start your resumé by summing up your skills and uniqueness with a couple of short sentences that define who you are as a personal brand. Di Gaetano suggests language like this: “I bring strong management skills and am looking to join a dynamic health care organization.”
2. Move your education up.When you don’t want the reader to focus on your job progression, your educational history should be the second item in your career-changing resumé, because your educational background “shows your commitment, your dedication and your self-motivation,” Di Gaetano says.
3. Highlight your skills.List the skills you acquired in your last job that can be transferred to a new field. For example, oral and written communication skills are useful in a variety of fields and might be of interest to a new employer in a different industry.
4. Don’t leave out management experience.“What company isn’t looking for management and leadership ability?” Di Gaetano asks. In the fourth section of your resumé, provide a list of leadership positions. If you weren’t a leader on the job, perhaps you managed people outside of work: Being the chairman of a committee for a community organization or being the coach of a team shows management skills.
5. Detail your technical capabilities.Finish your new resumé with a list of any experience with business technology that could be useful in a different field. For example, Di Gaetano says, if you use Microsoft Excel® in your current job, a new employer in an unrelated industry may find that valuable.