Resumes for Career Changers

Tips for job seekers breaking into a new industry

Career changers are “starting over” in a new industry, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are entry-level job seekers and should follow all of the resume tips for fresh graduates who are truly new to the professional world. You’ll likely be up against this population as a career changer, so it’s critical to not sell yourself short and clearly show employers what you have to offer that your competition does not – professional experience. Despite the industry, real world experience is invaluable.

The key to an effective career changer resume is the inclusion and emphasis of transferable skills. What are transferable skills? Any qualifications deemed valuable across multiple industries. For example, let’s consider a professional with a 10-year career in outside sales who now hopes to become a nurse. In addition to the specific clinical skills that will be gained in school and rotations, this former sales professional brings relevant expertise to the table: building relationships and establishing rapport with diverse individuals,  managing and updating account records, solving problems efficiently, setting and exceeding performance goals, multitasking, working within a team, etc.  Next let’s consider a retail store manager who recently achieved a Master’s degree in HR and wants to break into the HR field. This candidate most likely hired and trained staff, conducted evaluations, set schedules, processed payroll, and various other HR-related tasks as a retail store manager. All of these skills are transferable into a new industry and should be emphasized on the resume.

In terms of format, career changers are almost always best served with the functional or hybrid approach. Despite the specifics of your career history, and as stated in other posts, always consider your audience when determining what to include in your resume. Every bit of information in your resume should generate excitement for the reader and be relevant to the position you are targeting. As a career changer, this strategy will help you decide which transferable skills to highlight, how much detail to include for your previous career, and which accomplishments will be interesting to your new audience.


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