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by Kristin Savage | August 28, 2019

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Whether you’re far along in your career or just a few years into it, changing your career path can be provide a significant boost to your development. According to Estelle Leotard, a writer at Studicus, "Even though you may be an expert in your field, after five, 10, 15 years of working in the same position, you may become burnt out and unable to go on. While a career change may be hard and require additional learning and development, it may be just the thing to jolt your motivation and productivity upward."

Indeed, a career change can offer numerous benefits, including learning new skills, meeting new people, challenging yourself on a professional level, a chance to earn more income than before, and a renewed personal energy and purpose in life.

Of course, to start the process of changing careers, one of the first things you need to do is update your resume. And when it comes to writing a career-change resume, things are a bit different compared to writing a traditional resume when you’re searching for jobs within the same field. On the plus side, even though you’re switching careers, you’ll undoubtedly have a lot of experience when it comes to teamwork, time management, and respect for work-related obligations. However, chances are that you’ll have little to no professional experience in your target industry, meaning your career-change resume will need play up other aspects of your persona.

With that said, here are four tips for writing a winning career-change resume.

1. Emphasize personal over professional experience when applicable

Both personal and professional experiences play major roles in terms of writing a successful career-change resume. And it’s very possible that your personal experiences will be more applicable to the new industry you’re targeting than your professional experience. For example, your work experience might not be as applicable as various conferences or seminars you’ve attended. Even your volunteering experience or side hustle might be more applicable. So it’s good practice to clearly and distinctly separate your professional and personal experiences. This will allow future employers to easily scan through your resume to decide whether or not you’d be a right fit for the job.

2. List both hard and soft skills

Your soft and hard skills will both play a large part in whether or not you get hired, despite your previous professional experiences. Soft skills such as project management, teamwork, and critical thinking are sought after in many industries and at many companies, regardless of which products or services they offer. Hard skills, on the other hand, relate to the technical, specific skills you’ve earned during your previous professional commitments. Depending on what they are, they might not be as sought after in your new target industries. So make sure to list soft and hard skills separately, into easy-to-scan sections for your employer’s convenience. Doing so will put you a step closer to your career-change goal.

3. Address the “why”

For one reason or another, some companies will be reluctant to proceed with interviewing individuals who don’t match their expectations to the letter. The fact that you’re coming from a different professional background altogether might be the proverbial “nail in the coffin” for your chances of employment with some companies—but only if you don’t address the “why” behind your decision. This can be done in several subtle yet professional ways, including a short cover letter explaining your reasons for shifting to that particular industry and why this company is the best place for you to do just that. Alternatively, small addendums or comments can be added to the professional career section of your resume in single-sentence explanations. While it may only be a precaution, addressing the “why” behind your career change will allow you to get more interviews and chances of employment despite your lack of experience or degrees in certain professional fields.

4. Adjust to each employer

Lastly, if you plan to send your career-change resume to multiple companies and HR specialists, make sure not to send the same file to everyone. Instead, before applying, do some background research on your target companies and their business cultures to decide whether or not you'd be a good fit with their ideologies. This will help you eliminate unfit companies early on and allow you to incorporate company-specific skills or experiences for different companies. Adjust your resume slightly for each company you plan on reaching out to and your chances at getting follow-ups will improve drastically.

A final note

Before making a career switch, make sure to explore different paths and weigh whether or not you’d be able to shift into them, taking into account your skill set, years of experience, and network. And remember: while changing careers can seem scary and difficult at first, it’s often just what you need to rejuvenate your interest in your professional development. So get out there and seize the opportunity.

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of words through her website Fly Writing. Along with pursuing a degree in creative writing, Kristin aims to gain experience in the publishing industry through writing platforms such as Supreme Dissertations and Best Essay Education. Expertise in marketing strategy creation for publishers and authors is also high on her list of professional priorities, rounding out her goals to become the best writer she can.

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