How to Write a CV for Changing Careers
The U.S. Labor Department recently said that the average person changes careers (that’s careers, not jobs) 3-5 times during their lifetime. Whether you’re a mother re-entering the workforce after a leave of absence or you’re transitioning from the military to civilian life, preparation is key to ensuring a smooth career transition.
It’s recommended that you plan for your move about a year in advance - more if you need to take additional classes or receive certification. Once you’ve completed these big steps, you’ll need to rewrite your resume to reflect your next desired career.
Revise Your Resume Format If you are looking for a total career change, a functional resume will most likely be the best representation of your work history. Unlike traditional resume formats, functional resumes highlight your skills while downplaying your past jobs. If you are moving to a similar or closely related career, a combination resume format is an excellent choice. With a combination format you will lead with a summary that outlines your qualifications and certifications.
Clearly Define Your Objective Do you have a definition about your ideal job? If not, visit Job Boards and look at job postings that mirror the career path you’d like to take. Your resume should reflect your career objective clearly upfront. If you apply for a new job without making your career transition plans known, you’ll end up confusing the recruiter, who won’t look past your work history. No need to go into detail here: a clear, concise statement will be enough to emphasize your intentions.
The Terminology You Use Should Mirror the Job You Want For instance, if you’re in the military and are applying for a civilian job, your resume should list your accomplishments rather than your military titles. Without using military terminology, you’ll need to translate your military experience into civilian terms that employers will understand. Job titles should be written like they are in the public sector (for example, a mess cook would be a food service preparer or specialist). Job duties should also be translated into public or private sector terms to account for the fact that many employers are not familiar with military commands and positions. If you’ve been on a military tour or have been deployed somewhere, be sure and list this to account for any gaps in employment.
Create Functional Categories Once you’ve cleared up confusing terminology, you’ll need to create groups of generic, functional categories. Examples of these are managerial experience, sales experience, finance and accounting skills, etc. Below the category, list all of the experience or projects that go in to these skill buckets. Again, looking at online job postings that mirror the type of job you want will help you define these categories.
Find Common Ground For other people transitioning careers who are having trouble finding commonalities in their former jobs and their desired jobs, try taking a step back and examine generalities that can translate into other positions. For example, if you were a manager, list what kinds of projects you managed and how many groups you were in charge of. Employers will take note of this supervisory title and can connect the dots to envision you in a job requiring similar management experience. Familiarity with software, operating systems, programming, and foreign languages can help in practically any position and should be listed if these are some of your skills.
Back to School Any additional education or certifications you’ve received that applies to your new ideal job should be listed on your resume, along with recommendations from previous bosses or higher-ups to confirm that you are up for the challenge and have the support and confidence of others.
For more information about your career, visit America’s Job Exchange’s Career Services Center. You can access a wide variety of tools to help with your job search goals, connect with hiring recruiters, and be prepared to negotiate your salary, or find helpful articles and advice. With a bit of prep work and research, you can build the knowledge that will help determine your new right career path.