Executive Education

How to Write a Resume When Considering a Career Change

Have you grown tired of your current job? Do you feel like breaking out of the rut?

If you want to make a career change, you need to figure out how to make your resume perfect.

That’s because you have to work harder than the average job seeker to prove you’re the right person for the job.

Here’s how to do it.


You’ve already sent out a few resumes, but failed to get responses.

You’ve got several years of work experience at a respectable company. You know the ins and outs of what your job is all about. You get things done.

At the same time, it’s hard to prove that you can do the same thing in a new job or industry. Especially if you’re targeting a brand new career path.

So, as a career changer, you might fail to get a response because you’ve been pigeonholed.

From the recruiter’s perspective, your last position is indicative of who you are. If they read “Sales Representative,” they peg you as such.

Recruiters are busy people. Sure, finding the right candidate is their job. However, the sheer number of resumes they have to sift through makes it virtually impossible to read each application word by word.

So, judging you by a previous job title may be too convenient on their part. But can you blame them?

Just consider this – you want to hire someone to tile your bathroom. Would you hire a tiler with 10+ years of experience, or a carpenter who has just decided to transition?

You know which. But don’t worry. All you have to do to break out of that pigeonhole is put the spotlight on your skills.

Here are a few important recruiting and hiring statistics to put things into perspective for you:

  1. Recruiters spend just a few seconds scanning each resume.
  2. They focus on your most recent and relevant work experience.
  3. They make use of special software to save time so as to focus on relevant resumes.
  4. In the end, they want to hire a well-rounded, personable employee.

So, not all hope is lost.

There are a few things you can do to grab the recruiter’s attention and convince him to give you a chance.

Start strong with a resume objective

A resume objective is a great way to capture a recruiter’s attention. That’s because it’s located under your contact information and is the first thing that a recruiter is going to see.

What is a resume objective?

A resume objective is a short, targeted statement at the beginning of your resume. It reflects what you have already achieved, and how you are a perfect match for the opening.

This section is all the more important when you want to transition between industries.

A clear resume objective will help the recruiter understand:

  1. That your application is in the right pile.
  2. That you have what it takes to hit the ground running at your new job.
  3. That you have a proven track record and transferable skills.

Think of it as a really short elevator pitch.

Here’s an example:

Accomplished Marketing Manager with 7+ years of experience in the retail real estate industry. Seeks to leverage her background in planning, overseeing, and implementing marketing campaigns to take on the role of Brand Manager at [target company]. Creative and effective at promoting and developing brands.

If you explain what you’re all about at the beginning of your resume, you improve your chances of convincing the recruiter to read on.

Besides being indicative of your past achievement, a resume objective shows what transferable skills you possess.

Pro Tip: Old resume objectives told hiring managers what you wanted from the job. Now, resume objectives tell hiring managers what you’re going to give them.

What’s the right resume format for career changers?

You’ve nailed your resume objective, but what about the resume in its entirety?

Which of the various resume formats  should you chose?

Since you’re trying to transition from one industry to another, you have to be a bit more creative when it comes to listing your experience and skills.

You want to assure the recruiter that you are not only capable of dealing with new challenges, but that you’d be bringing applicable expertise to the table.

One way to achieve this is through using a combination resume format.

Try to think of the combination resume format as a variant of the classic reverse-chronological format:

  1. The experience section that comes right below your resume objective will still feature positions you held over the years starting with the most recent.
  2. However, you will focus on the skills you acquired rather than providing a general description of each position.

To make it readable, organize your skills under subheadings (e.g., Communication, Leadership etc.). Keep it short. Feel free to use bullet points.

Remember to focus on the transferable skills most appropriate for the position.

Here’s an example to put things into perspective:

ACME Real Estate (2009-01 – present)

Marketing Manager


  • Spearhead marketing campaigns.
  • Head up and manage a team of 5 marketers.
  • Manage B2B campaigns resulting in an annual 12% increase in revenue.


  • Liaise between challenging clients and company management.
  • Organize, write, and communicate daily schedules and activities for the sales team.
  • Conduct webinars on how to negotiate with difficult clients.

Do the same for your education section. Focus on majors and courses which signal you’ve got the skills required for your new position.

Important: Most major companies use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software.

ATS software does what most recruiters dread – it scans huge numbers of resumes and tries to figure out whether a given application is on par. It does so by analyzing the content and searching for relevant keywords.

When you talk about your skills, you want to use the wording of the job ad, i.e., focus on the keyword skills. That’s how ATS software knows your application is relevant. Once it finds enough keywords the software greenlights your resume and sends it to the human recruiter.

The crucial take-home message for job-changers is:

  1. Focus on your skill set – pepper your resume with skills tailored to the post in question. Use keywords from the job ad.
  2. Catch the recruiter’s eye with a right resume objective – signal you’ve got what it takes to make a smooth transition to the new industry.
  3. Make use of the combination resume format – organize your skills under subheadings, make it readable by using bullet points and to-the-point language.
  4. Don’t forget you are your own brand. Your resume should be a testament to your top-notch quality of work.
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Natalie Severt
Natalie is a writer at Uptowork. She loves writing about resumes and eating tacos more than life itself. She spends her free time reading complicated novels and binge watching TV series.