Looking for a career change? Switching jobs, particularly changing from one industry to another, can feel like a daunting task. If you’re one of the many people whose job was furloughed or the company went under during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Starting over can feel scary, but we’ve got the inside scoop straight from hiring managers about how to do it.
5 Steps to a Perfect Resume for a Career Change:
- Figure Out Your Transferable Skills
- Build a Bridge Between Your Past and Your Future
- Adjust Resume to Highlight Skills
- Don’t Just Tell, Show!
- Use the Sixty Percent Rule
Or check out our example resume.
Figure Out Your Transferable Skills
You will have an easier time getting a new job in a new industry if you can use the skills from your last one. For instance, people who have worked in the hospitality field have excellent customer service skills. They have to because they depend on tips from the patrons in order to pay their bills. Those people with hospitality experience are usually excellent when they switch to call center roles or bank tellers. Consider that bank teller, hospitality employees, and call center employees all have to be patient and helpful, even when dealing with difficult customers. All three require a level of integrity since each occupation involves handling money in some way. Call center employees often handle credit card information, bank tellers handle cash, and hospitality employees handle both.
If you can figure out which industry has the same kind of skills that your last one had, you will have a built-in skillset to present on your resume. This saves the recruiter/hiring manager time to see if you’re qualified.
Do You Need an Objective?
Much like the rest of a resume, the objective is all about you selling yourself. What’s different about the objective or a summary is that you’re selling why they should consider you. This space is useful for you to connect the dots between your past experience, your useful skills, and why you should be considered for this new position.
Build a Bridge Between Your Past and Your Future
If you’re worried that your skillset isn’t strong enough or if you want to start completely fresh at something new, build a bridge. By that, we mean that you will need to do something else (that you won’t be paid for) that will help you get there. You need a bridge to show your legitimacy at being in the room, even if that bridge is volunteer work, a certificate, or an internship.
The scary part about switching industries is that you have to convince both the hiring manager and yourself that you’re a good fit. The easiest way to do this is to test it out (as much as possible) by getting as close to the industry as possible before you apply for positions. Show that you’re legitimately interested in being in this industry – and not that you somehow applied to every job available.
Volunteer work, internships, and online certifications are all excellent ways to gain legitimacy in a new field. No, it doesn’t pay you money immediately and yes, this is hard to do when the bills keep coming in every month. Ideally, you’d be working somewhere else at the same time to pay the bills. No, it’s not easy to do both. Doing this is investing your time and effort in your own future.
Adjust Resume to Highlight Skills
To highlight your skills and education for your career change, make sure that your resume is skills-focused. This is also known as a functional resume. After your contact information, then include your objective or summary, and then instead of your past jobs – list your skills that are relevant to this position. Make sure that you include keywords from the job description in a reasonable context so that your resume will get through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and into the hands of a person.
Don’t Just Tell, Show!
Don’t just insist you have those skills, but show them with numbers and achievements! People often say that they have “leadership skills”, but that’s too vague. It makes a difference to the hiring manager if the resume says “led a team of five and sales grew $50,000 more from that department”. That’s showing a directly related example (the team of five) and connecting it to a number that benefited the company ($50,000). This is the sort of detail that’s often overlooked by job seekers, but can make-or-break it for the hiring manager’s decision.
Use the Sixty Percent Rule
Our seasoned professionals at NESC Staffing have a very clear bit of advice for all job seekers: No one wants to see your resume if your skills don’t match at least 60% of the job qualifications. Sure, some of the job descriptions are filled with every single thing on the hiring manager’s wish list. The idea is that if you have at least 60% of what they need, they can teach you the rest. Save yourself the agony of “why didn’t they call me?” and follow the 60% rule.
It’s important that you follow each of these steps so that it’s easy for hiring managers to see why they should call you for an interview. For a true career change, you need to make sure it’s obvious that you belong in that industry.
This is an example resume of someone attempting to change industries. You can do a functional/skill-based resume, which is good for people changing careers or with large unemployment gaps. That contains your name, contact information, a summary or objective (optional), skills summary, additional skills, work experience, education, any other accomplishments. The important take-away from this resume is that your skills need to be at the top and the main focus of this resume. If your experience doesn’t match the industry, keep it towards the bottom and minimize the focus.
(123)-456-7891 * email@example.com
Proficient in Vantage, AutoCAD, Cadcam, and Accuvue programs and SolidWorks
Safety and measurement trained and certified
Lathe and Mill trained and proficient
Trained to work on, repair, and maintain die sets and fixtures used for metal impacting and forming
Assembly and Machining
Grocery Store January 2021- present
Charged customers, assisted with groceries
Heatware Warehouse February 2017- December 2020
High school graduate
References available upon request
By this point, you should know the skill that you’re bringing to this new job and how you’ll highlight them in your resume. When you decide you’re ready for a career change, it’s important that you show the world how it’s a natural switch for you – and how your current skills will help you get there.
To recap how to change careers, you need to figure out your transferable skills, figure out how to bridge your past work with your future career, highlight your skills on your resume, be specific with examples when possible, and apply to jobs where you have at least 60% of the qualifications required. You’ve got this!
Make sure you’re prepared:
Need more help finding what you’re looking for? We can do that! Check out our opening at NESC jobs.