How to tailor your resume for a career shift

Resumes aren’t easy to tackle in general, even without having to worry about adjusting it to fit a career change. Most of the time, resumes that I see have either too much or too little information when it comes to the amount of detail included. It’s important that anyone considering making a career change has just the right amount of detail and information in their resume to appeal to a human resources professional or hiring manager.

Here a few tips for what you need in your resume if you are making a career change.

Identify Your Goal

Be sure to hone in on your new career goal. For example, if you are currently working in customer service, but you would like to move into a marketing role, think about what type of marketing role. Social media copywriting or account management? Once you have a clear goal for your next position it will be easier to tailor your resume. (Don’t forget, once you make your general resume for your career switch you will have to tailor it to each individual job posting.)

Identify Transferable Skills

Once you have identified your career goal and you understand the types of positions you are looking for, you can start picking out transferable skills. Check a few job descriptions on (my personal favorite job search engine) to see what skills are typically required in these types of roles. Get a feel for what skills overlap between your current job and your future role.

Read more: Phone Interview Tips

For example, if you worked in customer service, perhaps you coordinated client care over the phone. That would be a great transferable skill for a marketing role! When outlining your professional experience be sure to approach your bullet points with the goal of including transferable skills. Be sure your bullets are clear, concrete and include who, what, how often and why, if possible. Example: Coordinated 15 different client’s customer care through email and phone communication weekly. Find out more detailed information on transferable skills here.

List Your Skills

To be honest, I’m torn here because I’ve seen resumes where half of the first page is just a bullet point list of skills. Typically, I suggest that individuals include their skills within their resume bullet descriptions so the recruiter or hiring manager can see specifically how these skills are used.

Making a career change is the one time that listing out skills on a resume can be helpful. Pick out 5-10 transferable skills and list them as “Key Strengths” or “Skills”. Even better, list them as skills that are for the career you hope to transition into, for example “Marketing Skills”. Make sure you create columns so your skills don’t take up too much space on your resume. See some examples here.

Utilize a Professional Statement

A professional statement is like a detailed and in my opinion, a better, objective. This is a great way to highlight a few key transferable skills and state your goal for your next role. Objectives are rarely used once someone has about one year of job experience outside of college and some employers prefer not to see them.

Professional statements capture more skills and it allows the hiring manager a quick snap shot of the individual. Here are a few examples of professional summaries that I feel are well written. A summary should be about 2-5 sentences. It includes top skills, accolades and, in this case, your goal for changing careers. 

Example: Over five years of experience coordinating client needs in a high-volume sales environment. Received top customer service award out of 50 employees in the client care department in December 2019. Communicated detailed client phone and email communication from customer service needs to more personal notes, like client birthdays. Transitioning acute client relation skills to a marketing account manager role.

Formatting and Wording

Make sure your resume fits in with your new career. By this I mean that the formatting should match with industry standards. For example, computer engineering resumes look different than marketing resumes because different wording and industry jargon are used.

Be sure to have one “standard” or “go-to” resume at all times. If you are designing a fancy resume in InDesign be sure to have a standard resume (like one in Word) as well. Not all hiring managers are also designers and they need to be able to read a resume quickly. 

Cover Letters

The best way to depict your goals for a career change would be in a cover letter. This isn’t the time to tell your whole life story about how you broke up with your girlfriend, moved, and then realized your true passions in life.

This is the time to describe how your previous professional experiences (and maybe hobbies) have led you to transition into a new career and then explain why that career is right for you. Consider what your “origin” story is for your career change. What sparked that change?

Personally, working in human resources led me to a career in counseling. I realized my desire for this career change while engaging in employee relations issues and discussing challenges my employees faced in both work and personal life. I always wished to help my employees on a more interpersonal level, which led me to a career in counseling. Here’s a great article with tips on how to write a cover letter for a career change.

Don’t Sweat It

Easier said than done, right? It may not feel like it in the moment, but many people are making career changes of all backgrounds and ages. You are never alone in this process.

Our careers are consistently evolving and changing. If you feel you need help in the process you can always reach out to a career coach or a career counselor to aid you in the process.

If you are worried that you do not have enough transferable skills, think about how you can gain some additional transferable skills in your community through either volunteering, job shadowing, or taking a class at a local community college. These are just a few of the ways you can make your career transition an easier process.

Looking to get your resume tuned-up? Contact Megan on her site.

Megan Myers

Megan Myers is a former recruiter currently working on her Masters of Science in Counseling. She's the founder of Myers Career Coaching which helps individuals land their dream job by fine-tuning their resumes and honing their interview skills.