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How To Tailor Your Resume For A Career Change

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How To Tailor Your Resume For A Specific Job

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Customize Your Work History

Your work history is the next most visible section on your resume, so the hiring manager should immediately be able to tell that you have relevant experience. If you have a long work history, this may mean you need to minimize or remove any positions that do not align. Or if your most relevant jobs were further back, you may split this section into two for further tailoring: an ” experience” section and an “Other work experience” section.

The bulleted lists under each position should always utilize the job description’s keywords. This specific language shows that you will start the job with the required skills and experience. Keep in mind that your first bullet points should represent the most relevant responsibilities or tasks. For example, if the description emphasizes leadership abilities, start each list with examples of how you led a team, trained peers or other similar tasks. Even if those were not your main responsibilities, those responsibilities best match what the hiring manager wants.

Include A Resume Summary

If you choose to write a resume summary, it needs to be customized for every job you apply for. A resume summary isnt always necessary, but you should consider including one if you have extensive experience, if youre changing careers, or if you want to contextualize something thats not otherwise obvious from the body of your resume.

A resume summary should include the title of the job youre applying for, a brief overview of your experience, and a few top accomplishments that show your skills in action. For a more complete overview, see our detailed guide to resume summaries.

Your resume summary should highlight specific skills and experience thats most relevant to the job youre applying for.

Here’s another example of someone changing careers. Notice how the resume summary is carefully tailored to the new role this person is changing careers into, and not focused on their previous skills.

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A Resume Example For Career Changers

Before we dive into exactly what recruiters want to see in your resume, here’s a sample career change resume template that you can use as a foundation to get started, with some key tips you should keep in mind:

You can download this career change resume template from our Data Scientist Resume Examples page, which has this template.

Revamp Your Bullets Even For Less Relevant Experiences


Now that your relevant experiences are at the top of your resume, that doesnt mean you should ignore everything else. Nope, it just means you need to pull out the relevant bits of those experiences in your bullets.

From the job description, youll likely find more than just the technical qualifications needed to complete the job. Strong communication skills, ability to work in a team, and other soft skills are probably listed as well. So, while your tutoring experience might not be directly related to the sales position youre interested in, you can definitely still highlight some of the soft skills that both positions require. For some ideas on how to spin your bullets to emphasize certain soft skills, see this article.

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Hybrid Or Combination Resumes

A combination resume follows a mostly chronological pattern while still emphasizing your summary, skills, education, and achievements. This type of resume is an alternative for career changers — it tells hiring managers that you have prior work experience while also showcasing your transferable skills.

Connecting Your Work Experience Skills And Qualifications To The Job You Want

When heading into a different career, its imperative to understand that your work experience is valuable. You just need to do a little more work to make that clear to the potential employer. Your experience section should feature previous jobs and relevant experience with bullet points briefly outlining your responsibilities.

Help the recruiter make connections between your choices and the responsibilities of the advertised role. Establishing a track record of success in your resume is also helpful as it suggests you are likely to bring these attributes to the new job.

When entering a new field, job seekers need to demonstrate transferable skills. Include these in-demand soft skills in your skills section:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Interpersonal skills

No matter the position, all recruiters see these as relevant skills. Look for other soft skills mentioned in the job description for inspiration on what to include.

For your education section, dont include certifications that arent relevant to the role. This can be difficult to judge. As a general rule, you can share details of your university degree, but its best to avoid other non-industry-related qualifications.

You will build on these sections in your cover letter. Your well-crafted cover letter will help expand on your resume sections to explain how you can excel in the new role with your current skill set.

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Leave Out Unnecessary Information

Your resume does not have to exhaustively list every position held, a task completed, and programs used. Think of your resume as a greatest hits album: Include only the highlights that will help your resume seem relevant to hiring managers in your new field. This can be particularly important if you’re switching job levels, as well as shifting careers.

Write Your Resume By Working Backward From The Job Description

How to: Tailor Your Resume for a Specific Position

This section is contributed by: Kyle Elliott Career & Life Coach and Resume Writer at

The key to a successful career change resume is to work backward from the job posting. I encourage clients to literally pull language from the posting of the job they are targeting, then massage it until it truthfully reflects their experience. You really want to speak the language of the industry you are moving into.

In the example below, my client was targeting sales roles. However, she has several years of impressive experience from working in higher education that we wanted to include on her resume. So we repositioned her earlier experience as a customer experience manager role, pulling language directly from the job postings she was targeting.

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Tailor Your Letter For Each Role

You need to tailor your resume for each role you apply to, and the same goes for your cover letter. Take time to research the company, finding out about aspects of their work that interest you, and insert those details into your cover letter. You should also tailor your experience and skills, highlighting the most relevant transferable skills or accomplishments for each job.

Add Keywords To Get Past The Ats

This section is contributed by: Susan P. Joyce Publisher of

When your goal is a career change, be sure that your resume contains the relevant keywords for the career you want. Without these keywords, your resume will not be found in a recruiters search of the applications and resumes stored in the applicant tracking system .

Analyze the job description and pay attention to the jobs requirements as well as the nice-to-have skills. Make a list of the skills and other job requirements you meet. Those terms are typically the terms that will be used most often when the employer is searching for qualified job candidates.

If you have acquired skills or experience outside of work, dont be afraid to include them, too. These include skills you have acquired while volunteering or participating in other non-work activities, especially if those skills are required for this job .

One of the best places to start including keywords on your career change resume is your Skills section. The Skills section is a way to show employers that you have the skills relevant to the position that are included in the job description.

For example: Assume the job requires hard skills like QuickBooks or SQL, and you have experience with them or have certifications from training you have taken. Include the appropriate term in your Skills section, like QuickBooks or QuickBooks Certified.

However, simply repeating keywords at the bottom of your resume is not smart or useful.

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The Resume Format Is Consistent

There are an endless number of formats people choose for their resumes. The key is to be consistent with details like capitalization, numbers, dates, and abbreviations. For example, if you spell out a state in one job role, don’t abbreviate it in another. When it comes to making a first impression with your resume, it’s all about the details. A resume that has consistent formatting and is free of grammatical errors will look more polished and professional.

Optimize Your Work Experience Section

Modern Resume Template Professional Resume Template Resume

Your work history is one of the most crucial parts of your resume — and its one of the first sections recruiters will want to read. Here are a few ways you can maximize your work experience section as a prospective career changer:

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Teacher Career Change Resume

Why this resume works

  • It may seem like a leap between teaching and software engineering, but in your job description bullet points , you can bridge the gap in your teacher career change resume.
  • Look for ways to connect your teaching duties to working with software .
  • Many skills indirectly transfer from one job to another, such as the ability to work with others who have diverse needs or handle multiple tasks in a given workday.
  • Taking it a step further, if you’ve led projects that directly rely on skills you’ll need for a new career, definitely include these, such as helping students develop digital programs.
  • If you’ve already had a lengthy career, you may be frustrated with attempts to keep your resume to one page. There are a few workarounds, and an especially useful trick is to move your objective to the side.
  • Always Use Bullet Points

    On any resume, when writing about your previous work experiences, you should always include brief bullet points that illustrate your accomplishments. Provide specific examples of what you achieved in your past roles, and when possible, quantify those examples with specific numbers, as in the examples below:

    • Implemented new training initiatives for retail associates that increased quarterly sales by 35%
    • Wrote and published 10 articles on company blog, boosting company website traffic by 50% over 6 months

    Bullet points make it easy for recruiters to scan your resume and find the information theyre looking for. For maximum impact, they should be rich in details and data to support your claims about your abilities.

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    Review The Job Description

    First, you need to understand what the employer wants and the qualifications required to perform the job. Read its description and write down or highlight any significant keywords related to skills. These may be words or phrases that seem unique to the job or reoccur throughout the posting.

    Then take note of specific requirements, such as necessary education or training and years of experience. Also, look at the order of the responsibilities listed, as those mentioned first may be more of a priority for the employer. You will want to mirror the employer’s priorities when organizing your resume the first items they mention should be some of the first items you mention.

    Career Change Resume Templates

    Resume: How to tailor a resume

    You should now have a general idea of how to format and write your resume or CV for a career change.

    If you need a great starting point and dont want to create your resume from scratch then this job search resources page has multiple free resume templates that are great for changing careers.

    After clicking the link above, scroll down to the section titled: ATS-Compliant Resume Templates. All of the templates on that page are free to use and download.

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    The Resume Plays Up The Job Seeker’s Best Selling Points

    If you’re looking for a career change, you may have limited experience that pertains to the new industry and/or position you’re seeking. In this case, highlight other positives instead. This may include adapting new skills or learning advanced programs. It can also be reflected in your extracurricular activities, like volunteer opportunities or leadership positions in different organizations. Draw attention to what makes you stand out as a job candidate, not what may make you underqualified.

    How To Write A Resume For A Career Change

    Learning how to write a great resume as someone changing professions with little relevant experience can seem difficult.

    Fortunately, it doesnt have to be. Anyone can write a strong resume to change careers by emphasizing these two things in their application: 1.) relevant experience, and 2.) transferable skills.

    To make sure you hit upon that relevant experience and target those transferable skills in your career change resume, follow these five steps:

  • Use the combination resume format
  • Open with a resume summary
  • Use work experience to highlight transferable skills
  • Emphasize relevant school experience
  • List relevant certifications
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    The Customer Is Always Right

    The customer is always right and Find out what the customers want and give it to them are the two most important lessons we all learned at the outset of our careers.

    Now apply this to understanding the needs of the companies hiring for your target job within the new industry.

    Take the time to understand the unique qualities of service that define your target industry and the challenges they present.

    Identify people already doing this work who can educate you about these issues, and tell you why things work the way they do. Talk about these issues with contacts in industry/profession specific groups on LinkedIn, or your alumni or professional associations. Informational interviews are a perfect sourcce.

    You can also search LinkedIn and other social networking sites for people who have made similar transitions.

    The insights you gather will demonstrate to employers in your target industry that you understand the issues unique to that industry.

    How To Tailor Your Resume To A Job Description

    77+ Free Microsoft Word Resume Templates &  CV

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    Hiring managers may sort through hundreds of resumes for a single job, meaning they often scan to find the most relevant details. The best way to get noticed as a candidate is to tailor your resume to the employer’s job description. To do this, you need to showcase your most relevant qualifications using their keywords and specific phrases. In this article, we explain why you should be tailoring your resume to job descriptions and provide steps and an example to help you get started.

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    Employment History Or Experience Section

    This is another decision point based on how different your new career is from your current one. Your Employment History or Experience highlights your biggest professional successes and accomplishments. Each bullet point should tell of a challenge, your actions to solve it, and the results you achieved. Use data and details wherever possible. If your new career overlaps your current career, use the Employment History heading and focus on the transferrable skills you can demonstrate through your jobs. Recruiters want to see a pattern of growth in expertise and responsibility, so think of your Employment History as the story of your professional development. If you are heading in a completely different direction, the Experience heading may serve you better. Here you can include your involvement in activities that are not work-related but are relevant to your new career. In either case, keep the ATS in mind. Use strong action verbs that describe you as a go-getter.

    If youre having trouble providing the sub-list of achievements and milestones under each job or experience – try the STAR method. Its an acronym that describes your way forward: S – the situation you were in, T – the task that you were responsible for, A – the action you took to achieve R – the desired result. Make this almost into a mini-story in one short sentence. It will demonstrate how you handle work situations with excellence.

    Summarize Yourself As A Go

    You might want to describe yourself with adjectives like well-rounded or versatile. And it doesn’t hurt to mention that you’re changing careers, especially if you have some pretty stellar transferable skills and training/certifications that give you a boost as a viable candidate. Here’s an example of a summary you might use at the top of your resume if you’re switching to a job in IT security:

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    Career Change Resume Objective Example

    • Organized and hard-working employee looking to join XYZ as a marketing assistant. Looking to take advantage of my skills in Photoshop, graphic design, and creative copywriting to help XYZ with their marketing efforts.

    See the difference here?

    Even though the person doesnt have any relevant work experience, their resume objective still shows how their skill set is relevant to the new job.

    Career Change Resume: Examples And How To Write

    Tailor Your Resume the Easy Way | Resume Advice

    September 9, 2020 | By Conrad Benz| Reviewed by

    When changing careers, you have to convince employers that youre the right person for the job while competing with experienced applicants. Our how-to-write guide and career change resume examples will help you put together a strong application and land a job in your target industry.

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