How To Write A Career Change Resume (With Examples)

by | Resumes & LinkedIn

Despite a looming recession, workers are continuing to change occupations and industries at pre-pandemic levels, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center.

Data doesn’t lie: Switching careers and securing a larger paycheck is more than possible.

Over the last two years, nearly half (48%) of workers who changed employers also landed in a new industry. Additionally, approximately half (49.5%) of workers who changed employers also landed in a new occupation. Many of these workers also saw increases in their salaries.

In this article, you’ll learn how to write a resume for a career change, as well as common missteps to avoid, so you can successfully make a pivot.

5 Tips To Write A Resume For A Career Change

You need to craft your resume with strategy and intention if you want to switch to a new career. Here are five tips to write a career change resume:

1. Share accomplishments that showcase your transferable skills.

You’ve probably heard that “transferable skills” are necessary to make a career change. But what exactly does this mean, and how does it apply to writing your resume? Simply put, when employers are hiring for a role, they want to know that you have the relevant skills and experience needed to do the job.

If you’re applying for a similar job in a similar industry, employers might assume you have the base knowledge needed to be successful in the role. However, when you’re switching roles, levels, or industries, you must explicitly call out how these skills are transferable, hence the name “transferable skills.”

Note: Rather than merely listing your transferable skills on your resume, you want to share relevant accomplishments that demonstrate the skills in action throughout your career.

2. Incorporate relevant keywords from your target role.

When you’re switching careers, you want to ensure your resume also uses relevant keywords from your target role. And how do you know which specific keywords to choose? It’s easy. You use a target job posting to guide you in selecting the most relevant ones.

Importantly, you don’t need to stress about incorporating every single keyword, or action verbs like “developed” and “managed,” from the job posting, as this won’t help you stand out from other applicants. You want to focus on role-specific keywords that accurately reflect your experience, knowledge, and skills.

Example: If you’re looking for a role in product management, you’ll want to include relevant keywords like “roadmap creation,” “product management,” and “stakeholder relations” throughout your resume.

3. Call attention to your fabulousness.

Many job seekers choose to hide the fact that they’re career changers because they fear it will hurt their job search prospects. However, when marketed strategically, your unique background and experience can help you stand out in the saturated job market. In other words, the fact that you’re a career changer is a benefit, and it’s your job to effectively communicate this through your resume.

Notably, you don’t want to shine a light on your differences for the sake of being unusual. Instead, you want to connect the dots for the reader and explain how your distinct background will benefit your next employer and add value to the organization.

Example: If you’re looking to break into big tech, but you come from a nonprofit or higher education environment, you can call attention to your success working within highly matrixed, bureaucratic environments, which can be helpful in the industry.

4. Prioritize quality over quantity.

As you build out your resume, you want to be mindful of how much information you include, since recruiters are strapped for time. A common mistake I see among career change resumes is the inclusion of unnecessary details from the past, which can result in your resume being passed up.

The solution? Leave out gratuitous details that don’t add value to your narrative. This is particularly important when crafting a resume for a career change, since you don’t want to be seen as underqualified. To put it simply, focus on quality over quantity, and skip the fluff.

Tip: If you possess early-career work experiences that are less relevant, yet still add value to your career story, consider only listing the company, title, and dates of employment on your resume.

5. Consider adding a cover letter.

Lastly, consider including a cover letter alongside your resume. Although cover letters are often optional in today’s day and age, they can help you stand out when trying to make a career change.

Important: You want to give prospective employers a reason to read your cover letter. Don’t just summarize your resume, share specific examples that reinforce your fabulousness and further demonstrate what sets you apart from other applicants.

Conclusion: How To Write A Career Change Resume

A career change resume requires a specific strategy to grab the attention of prospective employers:

  • Share high-impact accomplishments that demonstrate your transferable skills in action.
  • Weave in relevant keywords from your target job posting throughout your resume.
  • Dedicate ample time to calling attention to what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Focus on quality over quantity, and skip the fluff.
  • Consider including a cover letter alongside your resume to call attention to your fabulousness and stand out from the crowd.

On a final note, know that whether you’re 30, mid-career, or 60 and beyond, switching jobs is possible. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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