How To Write Career Change Resumes (With Example and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 16, 2022

Published September 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether to earn more pay or work in a field that better aligns with your interests, there are many reasons to switch careers. Regardless of why you want to transition, writing a compelling resume that describes your experience and transferrable skills is important when seeking a new career. If you are in the process of switching careers, learning how to prepare your resume effectively can improve your likelihood of getting the role you desire. In this article, we define career change resumes, explain how to write one along with tips, and provide a sample career change resume you can use as a reference.

Related: How To Write a Career Change Cover Letter (With Example)

What are career change resumes?

Career change resumes are documents that outline your skills, education, experience, and how these qualifications would be relevant in your new career. You can either create a new resume or update the resume used for your previous role. Career change resumes focus more on your transferable skills and explain your reason for switching careers. Transferable skills are qualities you can apply in nearly every job. For example, effective communication is a transferable skill.

Related: 7 Tips for a Successful Career Change at 40

How to write a career change resume

Follow these steps to write an effective resume for a career change:

1. Consider using a combination resume format

A resume's format refers to the order of its elements. While there are various options to choose from, a combination resume is ideal when changing careers. This format emphasizes your transferable skills rather than your experience. It also lists work history in order, starting with the most recent.

2. Include your contact information

Next, include a header that contains your name, phone number, location, and email address. Doing this helps recruiters and hiring managers contact you about the next stage in the hiring process. You may also include a link to your profile on professional networking platforms in this section.

3. Add a resume summary or objective

A resume summary briefly highlights your skills and experience, making it easier for employers to review. It can also include your professional goals and how working in the company would help you reach them. Include the summary immediately after your contact information and make it memorable. Specify how you intend to add value to the role and align it to the job description. You can discuss transferable industry knowledge and skills to help make you more competitive among other candidates.

Read more: Resume Objectives (With Examples and Tips)

4. Include your skills

When writing a career change resume, your skills section is typically the most important. Expand on your resume objective by explaining both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are qualities you learn through training and education and they are typically job-specific. In comparison, soft skills are abilities that explain how you interact with others. Here are some soft skills you can include:

  • Communication: Communication is the ability to exchange information effectively with others.

  • Dependability: Dependability is the quality of being a trustworthy employee. It involves being responsible and punctual.

  • Teamwork: Teamwork is the ability to work with others to reach a shared goal. It involves showing empathy and listening actively.

  • Organization: Organization is the ability to use resources effectively and efficiently. These resources may include your time, workspace, and energy.

  • Adaptability: Adaptability is the quality of being flexible and adjusting to management, team, project, or product changes.

  • Leadership: Leadership is the ability to guide and motivate others to reach a shared goal. It involves delegating responsibilities, encouraging team-building activities, setting goals, and managing projects.

  • Decision-making: Decision-making skills are qualities that describe how you choose between alternatives. It includes intuition, reasoning, and creativity.

  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions and state of mind of others. Showing empathy involves imagining what an individual experiences.

Read more: Transferable Job Skills You Need for Any Industry

5. Describe your professional experience

Include your work history in a way that emphasizes all transferable skills relevant to your new career. For example, suppose you want to become a data scientist after working for five years as an English teacher. If the role requires you to work on data sets, you can emphasize your effective communication skills and language fluency. Ensure you also explain your duties and responsibilities in previous roles.

Read more: Writing a Resume With No Experience

6. Explain relevant projects, certifications, and licenses

Outline personal or professional projects you have completed to show your practical experience with your skills. You can also discuss certifications and licenses that position you as a more competitive candidate. You want your certifications and licenses to be from a reputable source to increase your credibility.

7. Mention your educational background

Finally, list your education on your resume. While your major may be unrelated to the new career, you can include the name of the school you attended and the degree you earned to show you received formal education. Consider including bullet points of activities you completed while in school or achievements that apply to the new field.

Read more: How to List Education on Your Resume (With Examples)

Tips for writing a career change resume

Here are tips to make your career change resume more effective:

Review the job description

Ensure you read the job posting to find keywords you can use on your resume. You can also identify skills that the employers value. For example, if you're looking for a job as a cook after working as a researcher, you might use words like "compliant" and "detail-oriented."

Make it brief

Try to include only relevant information that can improve your application. You want to help potential employers find the information they need quickly. Consider using bullet points wherever possible and summarize your qualifications.

Prioritize the company's needs

Research the company to find out what its mission and goals are. Then, align your resume to show how you can contribute to these goals. You want to show you're an asset to the company to get the position.

Use a professional font

Professional fonts, such as Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri, are suitable for a career change resume. You also want to help your resume readability by using a 10- to 12-point font. Consider using a one-inch margin on all sides and single spaces between lines. If you have a lot of white space, consider making your lines spaced by 1.15 or 1.5.

Proofread your resume

Ensure you proofread your resume several times before sending it to the recruiter or hiring manager. Doing this can help you identify and correct mistakes. While you can use proofreading programs and tools, asking a friend or career coach to review your resume can also be helpful to identify any mistakes that you might have missed.

Review examples in your new industry

Employees may transition into a new role from various industries. Review resume samples for your industry to gain insights into skills and keywords you can use. You can learn the best resume practices for your industry or ways to use numbers effectively.

Example of a career change resume

Review this example to gain more insights into how to write a career change resume and guide you in preparing your own:

Susan Mathews
(245)-444-5555
susanmathews@email.com
Edmonton, AB

Software Engineer

Self-motivated and result-driven professional committed to pursuing a long-term career change into software engineering. Offers five years of experience demonstrating excellent problem-solving, analytical, and computer literacy skills. Able to execute software engineering projects from inception to completion.

Skills and Accomplishments

  • Certified in software development through an intensive coding bootcamp

  • Skilled in applying software engineering principles to solve software problems for small- to large-scale businesses

  • Trained in developing, testing, and maintaining software and implementing agile software development

  • Advanced training and experience in applying and using computer programming languages, such as C++, PHP, Python, Perl, and JavaScript

  • Engineered a camera motion-sensor system and automated payroll system with image capturing and GPS tracking, which reduced theft for a supermarket by 75%

  • Intrinsic creative abilities and excellent critical-thinking and problem-solving skills

Professional History

Librarian
Blue View Library, August 2015 - September 2020

  • Maintained library systems and managed books, recordings, and digital resources

  • Ordered subscriptions and materials to keep the library updated

  • Advocated for education and literacy among children and adults in the community

  • Trained library assistants and technicians to organize physical and digital information

Certifications

Certification in Software Engineering, January 2018
Sea High Bootcamp, Moncton, NB

Education

Sea High University, August 2010 - May 2014
Bachelor of Arts in Library and Information Science, 3.7 GPA

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