How to Write a Career Change Resume


Changing careers, whether big or small, can be daunting.

Your intention for a career shift may be self-driven or involuntary. Whatever your reasons for a career change are, your ability to communicate your transferable skills on your resume makes it easier for hiring managers to understand how you are best suited for the new job or sector, even if you don’t meet all the requirements.

However, writing a career change resume can be very overwhelming. There are so many things to consider before you can submit your new resume to an online portal or to an organisation.

We are here to help you make this task easier.

Here is how to get started in crafting your career change resume:


Use transferrable skills instead of job descriptions


So what exactly are transferrable skills?

These are the skills that you can transfer to a different type of career, sector, or work environment. When changing careers, your job responsibilities become irrelevant since they are only applicable to your former career.

Specific skills, however, can link prior experience with the expectations of a new role. Transferrable skills can include both hard skills and soft skills, such as communication, multitasking, teamwork, critical thinking, leadership, computer proficiency, and many others.

On your resume bullet points, try to focus less on job duties and highlight the skills that you have developed to capture the interest of the hiring manager or recruiter. Start by researching your target industry. Evaluate job descriptions to gain a sense of the skills that employers typically require. Subsequently, list all of the skills that you have acquired and used throughout your career. Then list out the skills commonly required in your intended industry and look for the match.

This activity requires creative thinking. For instance, for someone transitioning from nursing to pharmaceutical sales, what are the skills that both roles have in common? Both jobs require the ability to communicate medical terms and information using language that is easy to understand and remember.


Use the resume format that gives prominence to your transferrable skills


Chronological format, which lists all experience from most current to the eldest, is the most commonly used resume format. But this is not the only option out there.

Similar to those with a long gap in their employment, career changers need to emphasise their skillsets and capabilities over their work experience. Hence, a combination resume is an ideal resume format for job seekers who want to attain this goal.

What exactly is a combination resume?

The combination resume (also called ‘hybrid’ resume) is divided into two parts.

The first part is similar to a functional format where related activities are grouped together based on themes. These themes might be skills listed on the job advertisement (for example: ‘Sales Experience,’ ‘Project Management Experience,’ and so on). By grouping similar skills under one bucket, hiring managers or recruiters can easily see that you possess the necessary skills for the job, removing the focus from your irrelevant work experience.

The second part is the reverse-chronological employment history similar to the chronological format explained earlier.

The combination or hybrid resume should enable you to state your most relevant skills upfront, while also providing the employment details and timeline that hiring managers would like to see.


Exclude any irrelevant information


There is no sense in stuffing your resume with irrelevant information just to increase the resume length. After all, there is really no standard resume length for the Australian job market. A short and clear resume is what attracts employers. What to exclude:

  • Professional development, seminars, and conferences you have that are not connected to your target industry
  • Your hobbies and interests (unless these are relevant to the sector you are trying to transition into)
  • Very specific computer programs that will not add value to your prospective role
  • Old job histories (in particular, roles that are more than 15 years ago)
  • Non-career or community service-based achievements
  • Reasons for leaving each job (these are better discussed in the job interview)

Avoid using jargons as these can confuse and alienate the hiring manager in your new field. Explain complex terms in plain language that anyone can understand regardless of the job industry. Better yet, translate these jargons into your intended field’s insider-language and shorthand.


Make a strong first impression


Exert some time and effort in crafting a compelling cover letter. This is your chance to make a good first impression with hiring managers and recruiters. It is an opportunity for you to communicate the meaningful connections between your past and the skills you can transition to the new job going forward.

Don’t assume that the connections are obvious to the human reader. For example, your nursing experience and its fit for a pharmaceutical representative role is not always clear. This is why it is important to bridge this gap in your cover letter and spell out the connection. For sure, you will be up against applicants with relevant job experience that seems a more obvious fit, so do your best to communicate why your nontraditional background makes you an ideal fit for this new role.

A cover letter also gives you the opportunity to share your interest in the new career field and your dedication to learning new skills. It should also highlight your successes from past positions. Even when you are lacking in specific job-related experience, this shows the potential employer how you would add value to their company.

If you still have concerns about crafting a career change resume, have it written by an expert in Australian resume writing.

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