If you are considering making a career change, you are far from alone. Moreover, the fact that changing careers midstream gives us another important datapoint – employers are perfectly willing to hire someone from outside their current or past sector of activity. In this article, we have outline a few tips to help you draft a perfect resume if you are venturing outside your field.
In a recent survey of 662 full-time US workers, 49% of those workers stated that they have made a drastic career change while another 58% of them are currently considering such a move.
The fact that employers and recruitment agencies are happy to hire outside their sector of activity should not be too surprising. Many skillsets and personal characteristics can easily transfer from one field to another. And the skills that are specific to one field or one position can always be learned.
Because of this, when drafting a resume with the intent of making a career change, it is important to focus on those two factors – the skills that can easily transfer from one field to another and your ability to assimilate new information and acquire new skills.
There are many factors worth taking into consideration when contemplating a career change. And some fields are more open to outsiders than others. For example, if you are considering a career change at 30, you may want to consider going into business for yourself.
But regardless of your age or the new field you are considering going into, you will need to make changes to your resume in order to appeal to employers in a sector of activity you have little to no experience in. This article will provide you with some advice and insight into drafting a resume that will, hopefully, generate a few sparks of inspiration as you prepare to make a change in careers.
Highlight Your Soft Skills
Also known as transferable skills, soft skills more accurately define how you work rather than what you work on.
They are generally not the kind of skills you could learn through a course or at a seminar but are rather the kinds of skills that stem from your personality and your upbringing and are then honed and refined through practical experience.
Soft skills are especially attractive to employers and recruitment agencies because they can not be taught – at least not quickly or easily. These are the skills the employers look for in employees. They are also particularly attractive to employers because soft skills go a long way toward cementing company culture; they help to ensure team cohesion, and they help to create an agreeable and productive workplace.
Some of the more sought-after soft skills include:
- Communication skills (verbal and nonverbal)
- Public speaking and/or storytelling
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Creative problem solving
- Research skills
- Conflict resolution
Soft skills can also be expressed as personality traits that are appealing to employers:
Show, Don’t Tell
You may be familiar with this oft-repeated mantra of writers and writing coaches.
It means, don’t write such that a character in a story is angry, for example. Instead, write that the character balled their hands into tight fists that turned their knuckles white; that they furrowed their brow and ground their teeth while the pupils in their eyes constricted to the size of a pin. Show, don’t tell.
This mantra should also be applied to resume writing – though it could perhaps be modified to state ‘Show and tell’.
In a section of your resume titled ‘Transferable Skills’ – or merely ‘Skills’ – it is fine to list your skills, but it is far more effective to also ‘show’ how those skills were implemented in a real-life context.
For example, state that you have good communication skills then give a real-life example of how you put those skills into practice and the benefits they produced. The real-life practical examples do not need to have a workplace context.
Highlight Your Ability and Eagerness to Learn
Whether you’re applying for a position in a similar field or a field you have no experience in, it is inevitable that you will be required to assimilate new information.
You will have to learn work method and processes that are specific to that company. For this reason, employers and recruitment agencies are very keen on finding someone who appreciates learning and has demonstrated the ability to assimilate new information quickly and enthusiastically.
There should be a dedicated section of your resume that lists all the training courses and webinars you have completed.
It makes little difference how relevant to your new position the skills are that you learned at these courses and webinars. What matters is that, after perusing your resume, the employer or recruiter comes away with the strong impression that you are someone who has a high aptitude for learning new things.
Don’t limit yourself to only professional training courses and webinars. Include the non-professional classes you have taken too – cooking classes, dance classes, DIY home repair, YouTube tutorials, and self-help books. In fact, a wide variety of topics explored and a wide array of skills acquired further expresses your intellectual curiosity and your enthusiasm for learning – attributes that are highly sought-after by employers and recruiters.
If you feel this part of your resume may be lacking, take the time to go through an online course or 2. You can find online courses (many of them free) on a seemingly endless variety of subjects on popular e-learning platforms such as Coursera and Udemy. Go for what appeals to you most. The skills and information you learn are not as important as the learning process itself.
If you are considering making a career change, know that you are not alone. In fact, the majority of the workforce has either already changed careers or is considering a career change now. In contrast to prior generations, changing careers today should not be considered problematic or overly risky.
When you apply for a position in a field you have no prior experience in, you will still be able to present yourself as an appealing candidate by focusing on your soft skills and on your ability and enthusiasm for learning new skills and assimilating new information.
When framed in the context of a candidate with proven transferable skills and a proven passion for learning, changing careers can be seen as further evidence of intellectual curiosity and a further appreciation for facing new challenges. When framed right, the fact that you are an outsider with little to no experience in the field you are seeking to enter could be seen as a positive. It could help your resume stand out from the others and help you to secure a new job on a whole new career path.