The purpose of a great resume is to get your foot in the door, so you can show off your qualifications in an interview. If you’re changing careers, use your resume to convince your prospective employer that you have what it takes. Choosing the best resume format, and avoiding any writing pitfalls, will help you land a job in any new field.
Is a Functional or a Chronological Resume Format Best for a Career Changer?
Traditionally, the chronological resume is your safest best. Traditional companies prefer chronological resumes because they demonstrate growth in a given field. If you choose a chronological resume format, be sure to clearly spell out how previous jobs have prepared you for the new career you’re seeking. That said, although every job hunter should have a chronological resume available, you might be better off with a functional resume if you are switching careers entirely. You can hide long gaps in your employment history by grouping your experiences in terms of your skills instead of listing your job history. Again, only use a functional resume for jobs in less conservative fields. As always, consider both your unique situation and the needs and culture of the company to which you are applying.
Resume Sections to Include for a Career Changer
Regardless of which resume format you choose, begin every resume with your contact information. Start with your full name, your city and state of residence, a telephone number that will always reach you and an email address that you check regularly. Do not include an objective as this is no longer preferred by employers. Then, list any schools attended, degrees conferred or certifications earned under the header, “Education.” When switching careers, it is important that you demonstrate the proper educational background for your new field. If, for example, you have a degree in art history but are applying for a job in a medical field, you can mention relevant biology classes that you took in school.
Finally, depending on whether you choose a chronological or functional resume format, list either your experience or your skills in what should be the longest section of your resume. Ask yourself, “What specific skills and useful experiences do I bring to this new career?” The best resume format will show employers, at a glance, why you are a good fit for this new role.
Tips for the best resume format for a Career Changer
Focus on the needs of the employer, and don’t create a long list of experiences or skills that are not pertinent to the job. Instead, find aspects of your previous work that are applicable, and explicitly spell out how they will be useful in your new career. Use action words to describe your accomplishments in each position. If you don’t have much relevant experience, the best resume format will focus on your positive achievements in other roles. Give specific examples to demonstrate things like leadership skills and the ability to work well with others. You can even include unpaid positions, such as volunteer work.
Finally, get someone you trust to proofread your resume. Ask if the information on the first page stands out. Because your resume summary section is the most eye-catching element on the page, it’s important to ensure that it is written well. It should be around four to six lines, in the first-person voice minus the pronouns. In fact, first-person pronouns should not be used anywhere in the resume.
Don’t be afraid to switch careers! LiveCareer has many more useful tips to craft the best resume format for your new job.