Shifting careers is usually a challenge, even before 2020. One of the biggest hurdles career changers face is being able to show hiring managers how their past work experience will help them to be successful in their new role.
Did you know hiring managers only spend an average of 6 seconds reading each resume? That being the case, career changers must learn how to stand out and share their story well.
Want to know how to get started? Keep reading below.
[Read to the end to grab our Career Change Summary template]
Understand what hiring managers are looking for
What do hiring managers want? Someone who can do a job and do it well. And, considering that recruiters sort through hundreds or thousands of resumes before they invite anyone to interview, you don’t want to be the one to make them connect the dots between your previous experience and what’s required for the job you want. Rather, you’ll have to paint a clear picture of what you’ll be able to do for the company.
You can do this best in two ways:
Take stock of your transferable skills
Take a close look at the job description and do your best to mirror its language in your resume (as much as you honestly can). This not only helps hiring managers to connect the dots between your previous experience and the job you’re after, but it will also help you to get past digital screening tools looking for certain words on resumes.
Like we said, hiring managers will only interview someone who can be effective and do the job well. The best way to prove this is by sharing that you have a track record of being effective in your past roles. The good news is that you don’t need to be a finance professional or in a management role to quantify your work experience.
Not sure how to quantify your experience? Start with these questions:
- How much did you do?
- How often did you do it?
- What were the tangible results, and over what period?
Here are a few examples of statements that quantify work experience:
- Managed public relations communications, including 100+ press releases and 10 media kits, for 10 clients in the financial services industry
- Reviewed 25 article submissions per day and narrowed down to the top two for publication in the next day’s newspaper.
- Launched a six-month capital campaign resulting in $8.2 million in donations, a 30% increase from the previous year’s campaign.
Write a summary section at the top of your resume
For the average job-seeker, a summary section can often be a redundant and poor use of valuable space. For the career changer or those with a non-linear career path, however, a summary section can be a valuable asset. A good summary section will be a great resource when it comes to owning your narrative and branding yourself.
Also, it’s important to be sure that the most important words in your summary section stand out.
You can do this in two ways:
- Bold certain words or phrases in your summary section that you believe are the most important for the hiring manager to see as they skim through your resume.
- Include a “Core Competencies” or “Skills” section beneath your summary (these should also be in line with your transferable skills).
Overall, your summary section should follow this format:
- Top: List three descriptions of who you are, ie. “Political Campaign Professional, Business Operations, Account Management.
- Middle: Briefly quantify your experience to demonstrate your impact.
- Bottom: List key skills or competencies that align with your transferable skills.
Here are a couple of examples of great summary sections that you can take and make your own:
Political Campaign Professional | Business Operations | Account Management
Dynamic and motivated professional having launched a six-month capital campaign resulting in $8.2 million in donations, a 30% increase from the previous year’s campaign. Built and managed cross-functional teams of 10 or more individuals, demonstrating exceptional communication skills, and making critical decisions during challenges. Instrumental in managing a pivotal business shift during a period of crisis. An adaptable and transformational leader with an ability to work independently, creating weekly presentations, and gathering data for weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual business reports.
Social media expert with expertise in the creation and management of social media strategies and campaigns for global retail organizations
- Extensive experience in the commercial utilization of multiple social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
- Build out successful social strategies that increase brand awareness, promote customer engagement, and drive web traffic and conversions.
- Earned a degree in psychology and strong business acumen, bringing a customer-focused approach to online and social marketing.
Give the most resume “real-estate” to the most relevant work experience
For someone with a more traditional career progression, we would typically tell them to give the most space on their resume to the roles they’ve had most recently as they would likely be the roles that have the most relevant experience.
For those changing careers or with non-linear career paths, however, we recommend giving more detail for the roles that are the most similar (or have similar responsibilities) to the type of role you’re now looking for.
Don’t leave any important information for the second page of your resume (if you have one). There’s a decent chance a hiring manager won’t make it to the second page of your resume, so make sure whatever is most impressive about you shows up on the first page. Did you have a great education? Put it on the first page. Have a job several years ago with a lot of relevant responsibilities? Put it on the first page.
Last but not least,
Own your narrative
Tell your story so the recruiter has no choice but to leave with the impression you want them to have about you. Before writing or editing your resume, make sure you have a clear understanding of the picture you want to leave the hiring manager – one that paints you as the perfect candidate for the job because of your varied experience, not despite it.