When you’re changing careers, knowing how to format a resume is important. Your resume is your first chance to market yourself to a potential employer, and if you’re switching your focus to a new field, proving why you’d be a valuable employee is especially important on your resume. When you’re determining your best resume format, consider your unique skills, prior experiences and personal goals.
Knowing how to format a resume might seem challenging, but remember that your main goal is simply to assess which type will cause your strengths to stand out in the best light. This can be easy if you know what employers are looking for. Consider these tips to make an appropriate choice.
1. Focus on your current job ambitions rather than your past ones.
Many applicants make the mistake of reusing the same resume they used to apply for previous jobs instead of updating it to reflect their new career direction. Reword your old resume to emphasize all qualifications that are applicable to your new employment path. Highlighting the skills that are transferable from your past line of work will encourage your interviewer to take a risk on you and show them how flexible you can be.
2. Choose a style that allows you to downplay your prior unrelated work history.
Whenever you’re factoring how to format a resume for a career change, place a higher emphasis on your skills than on your unrelated work history. While the standard resume format lists experience in reverse chronological order beginning with your most recent position and working backward, consider using a hybrid or functional resume instead when changing careers. Hybrid and functional resumes both place emphasis on the gained skills rather than the timeline of gaining those skills. They are organized by the type of skills utilized in the positions rather than the dates where you worked there.
3. Begin your resume with your intended career goals and a clear summary of your qualifications.
Regardless of which format you choose, draw attention to your intended career goals in your summary section at the beginning to show the employer why you’re a good fit for the position. Write four to six lines to give the employer a good overview of your experience and include two to three of your most important skills. You also can include some personality traits, such as being outgoing, adapting well to change and possessing strong analytical skills, to show why you’d fit in well at the company.
After the summary statement, you’ll want to include your experience and schooling in the format you’ve chosen. If you’re using a chronological format, list your work chronology in detail and include all of your prior dates of employment as well as duties and achievements for each position. Schooling should be listed after work experience unless you recently graduated. If you’re using a hybrid/functional format, organize your previous experience by your developed skills and include relevant experience, education and achievements together.
4. Check your finished resume for mistakes and formatting errors.
After you’ve decided how to format a resume to best feature your skills when changing careers, make sure to look over the document multiple times for any errors. Rather than relying on a spellchecker, triple check your work and carefully scan for homonym errors and words that you used incorrectly. Never use a font size that is less than 10 points, and don’t include your salary requirements or references directly on your resume unless you were specifically directed to do so. This is also the perfect time to check that you your email and phone number were typed correctly since it’s essential that the employer be able to easily get ahold of you.
If you have other questions about how to format a resume, LiveCareer offers insightful and useful articles and tips to help your resume stand out in a crowd.