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How To Write A Resume While Changing Career Paths

November 3, 2016

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates  

Writing any resume is difficult (luckily Jobipedia will help you for free here), but composing a resume when you’re changing career paths is nearly impossible. The major issue is, you typically don’t have any experience in the field you’re trying to transition into. As a result your resume can appear less than stellar.

We asked some of the hiring experts at Jobipedia to weigh in on this difficult topic by giving them a scenario: An individual was a social worker and now wants to transition to working as a graphic designer. We gave them this challenge because finding a link between the two career paths is a little more challenging than going from marketing to sales for example. Here are their responses:

“To make the switch from social work to graphic design is a big one. There are very little if any overlapping areas. That being said you undoubtedly have some transferrable skills, mainly in the way you talk with people. That will help in two areas: sales and delivering quality results to the customer.

My advice is to worry less about the resume at first and focus on your book / body of work. Go freelance on the side to build up a reputation, contacts and referrals. From there your work and end products will speak for themselves,” said Bret from Emerson. Read the full answer here

Bret brings up an excellent point. There are always transferrable skills you can discuss in your resume as you’re transitioning career paths. You’re going to have to think critically about what those transferrable skills are, but there are most certainly some you can find.

You can also tell that Bret is connecting dots here in a way that you will certainly have to explain in your resume and then again in further depth during the interview process. That’s not a bad thing, but it is something you will have to navigate with grace and intentionality. If you’re in this situation it will be worth asking a mentor or another person in the industry you’re moving into to proof your resume before you submit it.

Charlene, a hiring expert at Gap Inc., said, “What I think is exciting about this is you have an opportunity to really express your passion and skills and grab the recruiter’s attention by utilizing the "Objective" statement.  My theory is only use an objective statement when your experience is not in the current field for which you are applying.  So this is just for you! 

Speak to how good you are at graphic design and that it is something you love to do and find a creative outlet and challenging and that you get personal satisfaction from using this talent to impact business and make a difference.  Then throughout your resume look for other skills from your social work that would be considered transferable. 

For example; great communication skills/problem solving, throughout your social work through good communication skills you were able to quickly identify a client’s needs and identify possible solutions to help remedy the situation. We all know communication and problem solving are critical in most jobs and this is a great way to demonstrate them and highlight them for the recruiter.” Read the full answer here

Like Charlene said, using an objective statement in your resume while changing career paths is a must. Write a compelling objective statement, then edit it, and rewrite it again. If your resume is an advertisement for you, then this is your hook. It should be the statement that makes a recruiter ‘buy’ into you as the right candidate. Remember, the goal is to progress to the next level—the interview. Once you make it to the interview stage you’ll be able to demonstrate in person why you’re the right fit.

Ultimately shifting gears in your career is a difficult transition. It will look a little bit different for you depending upon the specifics of your situation. However, there are always transferrable skills you can highlight in your resume to make your phone ring. You’ll need to bring your best just to get a call back so be sure to tap into your career mentors and friends in your desired field as you make the transition.

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates

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