Resume Advice for Switching Careers
If you're tired of your current field and interested in trying a whole new career, this post is for you! Maybe you've been working in tech support and you want to try software development. Maybe you're an administrative assistant but you've always wanted to be a copywriter. Or maybe you're a server in a restaurant and you're looking to get off your feet and start a cushy office job. Wherever you are in your career, you can make the switch with the right adjustments to your resume.
Focus Your Resume
The key to a career-switch resume is focus. Focus your resume on the job you want by:
Adding the job title you want to the top. Include it just under your name and contact information.
Refining the skills section to only include skills relevant to the job you want.
Only including work experience relevant to the job you want.
Read on for more tips on how to focus your resume...
Do Your Research
Review job listings for the job you want and make a note of keywords and phrases that might apply to you. Add those words and phrases to your skills and experience on you resume. For example, the administrative assistant who wants to be a copywriter probably has experience with Microsoft Office Suite, excellent spelling and grammar, and strong communication skills. This not only helps to tailor your resume to the job you want, but it also helps your resume get through dreaded ATS systems, which scan for specific keywords and reject resumes that don't include them. Pro tip: When I'm writing a resume, I like to print out job listings and highlight the information that's relevant to my client, then work that into their resume.
Leave Out Irrelevant Information
Remove any work experience or skills that aren't relevant to the job you want without leaving any gaps. For example, the administrative assistant who wants to be a copywriter will have to leave their administrative experience on their resume to avoid gaps, but they can refine it by removing things like answering phones, scheduling, and filing and only leaving things like composing correspondence, proofreading documents, and updating the company website.
If you had a job that's not relevant at all, include the title, company, and dates, but keep the description brief. Say our administrative assistant friend worked as a cashier for a year before starting their current job. They could include this job with a brief description like, "Assisted customers with retail transactions." Boom. That's it. It's not relevant to copywriting, so they just want to show what they were doing for that year.
Freshen Up Your Skills
While you're browsing job listings, you may notice skills you don't have are frequently mentioned as requirements. That's OK. There are many ways to learn a new skill and get your foot in the door.
Take an online course. There are tons of free online courses you can take to learn a new skill. Do a Google search for "free online courses," and you'll find tons of results. When you complete a course, you can add that skill to the skills section of your resume and the course to your education section.
Offer free/volunteer services. A great way to gain experience in a new field is to offer your services for free. Back in the day, when I wanted to get into copywriting, I posted an ad on Craigslist offering free copywriting services. That's how I ended up getting my first paying gig. You can also volunteer your services to a nonprofit organization. For example, our tech support agent who wants to get into software development can offer to develop a website or app for a nonprofit for free.
Create a portfolio. If you want to get into something like design, writing, coding, video, or audio, creating a portfolio is key. You can use the options above to help you generate content and create a free website using a service like Wix or Wordpress. Another way to generate content for your portfolio is to imagine a fictional company and create content for them. Go into detail, creating a company name, location, services, and business needs. For example, our tech support agent could devise an imaginary restaurant that wants to create an app so their customers can order online, then build the app for their portfolio.