Quitting your job and switching careers can be one of the most unsettling moments of your life. It is scary, intimidating, and sometimes overwhelming. 

But changing careers could also be one of the bravest and most fulfilling things you can do if you are willing to put in the work. A critical asset in your big move is a career change resume that focuses on all the right things.

In this guide, we will help you craft your career change resume and gain more confidence as you take that next big step in your career.

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How to craft a resume for your career change

Doing a career pivot means you are starting over. With this, you need to convince recruiters and hiring managers that you have what it takes to do the new job well. And one way to prove your value to recruiters is by creating a career change resume that will grab their attention. Here’s how you write one.

1. Study the job description to match up your transferable skills

First things first, you need to carefully read the job posting and understand how your past achievements and transferable skills can help you succeed in your desired new role.

Transferable skills are any skills that you can take with you from one job, field, or industry to another.

For example:

A job seeker with a background in journalism might recognize the keyword “writing” in the job description for an advertising position. While this job seeker doesn’t have advertising experience, they do have expert-level writing skills that would make them a great candidate for the new role. 

Writing, in this example, is a transferable skill. Transferable skills include both hard skills and soft skills, like leadership, time management, multi-tasking, communication, organization, emotional intelligence, listening, research, and many more.

Pro Tip: Include these skills in your work experience section, focusing less on duties and more on the skills you have developed, as these will be of the most interest to the hiring manager. 

2. Choose a career change resume format that highlights a logical connection in your career change

Oftentimes, job seekers choose a functional resume for career change job searches. A functional resume can be appealing because it turns the focus away from work history and toward skills and accomplishments. However, it can make it look like the job seeker has something to hide. 

A better option for most job applicants making a career change is the hybrid resume (also called a “combination resume”), which still showcases skills and accomplishments but includes a traditional work history in the second half of the document.

Here’s the bottom line when it comes to resume format when changing careers: if you’re staying within the same industry, a hybrid resume will work great for you. If you’re changing careers and industries, you can consider a functional resume format, though the hybrid resume is likely still a better choice.

Steps to write career change resume

3. Write a resume objective or summary that frames your career change as a strength

Your resume objective or resume summary sections are a great way to convince recruiters that your past experience sets you up as the perfect candidate for the new role. These statements tie in your experience and skills with what your new career demands.

When writing your resume objective, focus on the skills that you’ve picked up throughout your current career and other previous roles and explain how you plan to use them in this new industry. 

For example:

  1. Accounting professional with over 10 years of experience looking to transfer my skills to the finance industry. My proven mathematical and money management skills make me an ideal fit for the Finance Assistant position.
  2. Passionate sales representative with over 5 years of experience working with customers and selling software. Looking to leverage my proven skills in seeing our customers’ pain points and providing solutions to whatever I write as an aspiring Content Manager.

Kerianne Burke, a tech recruiter at Segment in San Francisco, recommends that job seekers provide recruiters with insights into how they have gained knowledge about this new category and role. “Have they taken classes? Completed extensive independent research? Be very specific here!” 

Second, Burke said that job seekers need to show that they would be able to make an impact in the role they are applying for.

4. Use keywords

Resume keywords prove to recruiters that you have what it takes to succeed in the new role. These keywords also help you get noticed by recruiters who use search functions in their applicant tracking system (ATS) to filter candidates by what’s on their resume.

You can find relevant keywords in the job description or job posting. Take stock of these keywords and incorporate them into your career change resume when possible.

Tailoring is key to a career change resume.

Even in a field that is brand new to you, you can find keywords that relate to your past experience. As Burke explains, “Look closely at the qualifications in the job description and tailor some of your first few bullets on your resume to highlight that applicable experience. It’s always great to tie your impact to data when possible!”

Read our full guide here: How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

Jobscan makes it easy to identify the most important keywords in the job description, so you know what to focus on. Try it below:

5. Add training and certifications to your career change resume

Adding training and certifications to your resume is another way to show off relevant skills during a career change. List down all the relevant training, courses, and certifications under your belt and show recruiters how these could help you in the new role or career.

A word of encouragement here: You don’t have to go back to school and take extensive training in order to make a career change. In many cases, the skills you’ve honed over your career will be enough!

As Monica Fochtman, a career coach who specializes in career changes put it: “Going back to school is the last thing that I suggest to people. Especially now, with so much on-demand learning like LinkedIn and Coursera and Teachable…there’s no shortage of places to get on-demand training. There are other ways to get those skills and demonstrate that you have those skills without going back to school.”

You don’t need the certification; you need to demonstrate that you have what the certification represents – the knowledge. The important thing is to choose a career that fits your already developed skills. That doesn’t mean your duties will be the same. It just means you’ll be able to use the same skills.

Learn more: Read our full guide on how to make a career change, with tips and insights from Monica Fochtman, PhD.

Career Change Resume Templates

1. Hybrid Resume

The hybrid resume or combination resume is ideal when changing careers as this format highlights your skills and accomplishments while still detailing a chronological format of your career trajectory.

Here’s an example:

Download the template here.

The hybrid format draws attention to your most important skills, accomplishments, and values and so recruiters and hiring managers can see what you bring to the table quickly.

2. Functional Resume

When you are switching to a career in a different industry where you have limited or zero experience, you can use a functional resume. It puts the spotlight on your transferable skills while downplaying your limited work experience.

Here’s what a functional career change resume looks like:

Download the template here.

You can find more sample career change resume templates on Jobscan’s Resume Templates page, which you can use for free.

Career Change Resume Examples and Ideas

Here are career change resume examples to get your resume writing juices flowing:

1. From project management to a job in sales

This career change resume highlights Mindy’s robust experience in Project Management under her work experience section. In her resume summary, she relates how she can use her project management skills in her new role in sales and proves to the hiring manager that she has the necessary skills and experience to excel and succeed as a Sales Manager.

2. From administrative work to writing

In his resume, James mentioned in his resume objective statement that he is passionate about solving customer problems. Having worked in various fields, his empathy and problem-solving skills make him an effective content writer who can relate to the readers’ struggles but is also able to share tips and insights that work. He also mentioned writing as one of his skills.

3. From accounting to a project management role

In this career change resume example, although the job seeker is an accountant by profession, she showed that she had relevant experience in leading teams and managing projects which makes her a good candidate for the new job. The resume summary also states her desire to use her skills as an accountant to run projects effectively and see them through to completion.

You can check more resumes for any job to help you with your career change resume in our Resume Examples Page.

Pro Tip: To supplement your career change resume, include a cover letter to provide context for your past achievements and build a strong case as to how your accomplishments and skills can help you with the new position.

Check our full guide here: The Career Change Cover Letter: How to Get it Right

Key Takeaways

Changing careers can feel scary and intimidating. But it is also a great opportunity for you to discover more about yourself and grow into the best person you can be.

Here are some key takeaways to help you with your career change:

  • Craft a powerful career change resume that will prove to recruiters that even when you are jumping into a completely different career, you have what it takes to do the job and do it well.
  • Use the hybrid resume (combination resume) format when creating your career change resume. It highlights your top skills while detailing your work experience and career trajectory.
  • Proactively seek opportunities to upgrade your skills and pursue professional development through training, courses, and mentorship.

Save your time and get more career change insights with Jobscan’s career changer tool!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What questions do you need to ask before making a big career change?

Here are 5 questions to consider before making a career change:

  1. Why do you want to switch careers? 
  2. Why are you dissatisfied with your current role? What do you hate about your job?
  3. What are your career goals? What is your dream job? Is your current career aligned with your passions, skills, or interests?
  4. How much does it pay? Can you live on it comfortably? If not, are you willing to take the risk?
  5. What type of company do you want to work for?

How do you write a resume when changing careers?

Here’s how.

  1. Choose the best format for your resume.
  2. Write a resume objective or resume summary explaining how your previous roles will help you succeed in the new role.
  3. Include relevant keywords (especially those found in the job description.)
  4. Tailor your resume for career change to each job you are applying for.
  5. Showcase transferable skills and include certifications and relevant training when possible.

What is a good objective for a resume for career change?

A resume objective for career change bridges the gap between your previous role and your new role. A good objective would clearly and briefly provide your relevant experience and explain how this will help you succeed in your new career.

For example, an accountant wanting to land a job in sales would write:

Certified Public Accountant with 10 years of experience writing accurate and timely financial reports, reducing costs, and improving overall efficiency. Looking to leverage my analytical skills and attention to detail in crafting sales systems that will streamline all sales processes and increase profitability.

How do you describe your career transition?

Here’s how you share about your career transition:

  1. Provide a brief description of yourself: who you are, what you value, and what you want to achieve.
  2. Share about your most recent and significant work experience.
  3. Explain how your skills and experiences make you the best fit for the new job.
  4. Stress why you want to do a career change and the value you can add to the company.

How do you write a resume summary when changing careers?

Focus on showing recruiters and hiring managers what you bring to the table, even as someone who is switching careers. Here’s an example of a career change resume summary.

For example:

Customer-focused cashier with 5+ years of experience serving different customers and creating a warm and friendly store environment. Has raised sales by 5% through strong communication and interpersonal skills. Looking to bring my leadership and organizational skills to an executive assistant position.

How do you put transferable skills on a resume?

Transferable skills are critical when you are switching careers because these show recruiters, hiring managers, and potential employers that you have the skills that they need for the new job position. To showcase these on your career change resume:

  1. Include them in your resume summary or resume objective.
  2. Add skills to your work experience section.
  3. Clearly write transferable skills in your skills summary section.

Pro tip: Check the job description for specific skills and work those skills into your resume for career change.

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