23 Apr, 2013

career changeIn today's unpredictable job market, several job seekers are facing a situation they never dreamed of encountering: changing careers. Whether it's via layoff or the lack of available jobs, many candidates are seeking employment in new industries. To successfully transition into a new career, your CV must be set up in a very specific way which adequately highlights your "transferable" skills and makes you look like a qualified candidate. Transferable skills are skills which you used in your previous employment that are applicable to the job you are seeking. Showcasing your most relevant abilities and experience is what will convince employers to interview you, so that should be the focus of the CV. To do this, you have two very distinct options: a reverse-chronological OR functional resume.

Reverse-Chronological Resume

Let's say you have had a successful career as a supervisor in the manufacturing industry, but your plant shut down, so you are trying to transition to a managerial role at an insurance company. Below is a before-and-after demonstration of how to write your experience for the insurance company (highlighting your transferable skills):

Before: Oversaw the operations of a 155-person manufacturing facility which produced automotive parts. Inspected assembly line operations, logged defective merchandise, and analyzed workflow to improve efficiency.

After: Oversaw the operations of a 155-person facility. Monitored work quality, generated daily reports, and analyzed workflow to improve efficiency.

As you can see, both statements highlight successful supervisory experience. This is essential to demonstrate to the insurance company! The difference is that the focus has been removed from manufacturing in the "After" statement. By removing all manufacturing references, this job seeker's resume makes him look more qualified. This strategy is effective when your experience is somewhat related (in some aspects) to the new job you are pursuing.

Functional Resume

Functional resumes are particularly effective when your previous experience is totally irrelevant to the new job you are applying for. For instance, let's say you were a teacher and you are now applying for a job as a sales representative. Should you include information about grading homework? No! On the surface, it may seem as if you have zero transferable skills, but here is where functional resumes shine. Create a "core competencies" section on your functional resume which stresses skills relevant to the new job, such as collaboration with team members, assessing needs, or overcoming obstacles. Take some time to analyze your previous responsibilities and extract your transferable skills.

Whether you choose a reverse-chronological or functional resume to help with your career change, remember that the most important strategy is to showcase transferable skills. If you are unsure how to do this yourself, consider hiring a resume writing service to handle the project for you. The more relevant your skill-set seems, the greater your chance is of landing an interview. Put yourself into the shoes of an employer, and ask yourself what you would like to see. Transitioning into a new career can be a stressful process, but utilizing the correct resume format can increase your chances of success.

By Drew Roark, a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with expertise in all industries. Owner of

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