Statistics show that working professionals change jobs an average of 12 times over the course of their work-life, spending five years or less in each position.
If you’re feeling that itch, you’re not alone. And it might even be a great time to try something entirely new and change your career field.
We’ve got a few tips on how to translate your skills on your career change resume to ensure a smooth transition as you embark on a new journey.
“Career changes are very common and have become more so in the last 10 to 15 years with the changing economy and jobs landscape,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, FlexJobs’ senior career specialist and career coach. “It’s something we work on often with clients, and one of the most important factors in making a successful career change is translating your best skills from your previous career so employers can understand that you’re a great fit, even if you’re coming from a different field.”
How to Translate Skills on Your Career Change Resume
Communicate using new career language.
Making a major career change means that communicating effectively in the language of your new chosen field is critical. Look over job descriptions and industry news to learn and mimic the keywords and jargon used in this industry. Using these words in your career change resume and cover letter will be imperative to show that you’re up to date and understand the ins and outs of the career field. This will also show the care and research you’ve taken when making this decision.
Focus on transferable skills.
Assess the skills you currently possess and what skills your new career will require. Many of the skills you use in your current job can likely be used in your new career field—be sure to include these in your resume. Transferable skills will include your communication skills, leadership qualities, time management abilities, knowledge of software or technical programs, and others. Transferable skills are important to include in a career change resume and will help with any transition to a new role.
Gain experience through volunteering, freelancing, or job shadowing.
As you create a resume for your career change, you may find that you want to beef up sections that you’re lacking in specific areas. Consider volunteering, job shadowing, or freelancing in your new career area to gain valuable skills that you can add. It’s also an excellent way to take your new career out for a test drive while acquiring valuable experience.
Attending industry events or meetups, such as HubSpot User Groups, WordPress user groups, CreativeMornings, etc., can provide new connections and easy networking. Add this experience to show a potential employer that you’ve taken initiative to determine this is a suitable career for you.
Format your resume.
Depending on what career you’re switching to, you may need to format your resume differently. If you’re heading into a creative field, such as design or photography, a standard text-based resume may not cut it. Research what a common resume looks like in your new field of interest to inspire your own format. Likewise, if you don’t have a lot of experience in your new career, consider if you need to move your professional development and transferable skills to the top of your resume.
Change your resume headline.
A resume headline, or a resume title or summary of qualifications, is a one-line statement that quickly tells hiring managers what you’re all about. When you’re changing careers, it is important to update this information and make it fit the new role you’re seeking. For example, “Experienced marketing director with advanced SEO experience” won’t work if you’re now trying to land a web designer role. Pick out keywords related to your new role (in the case of our example, perhaps: HTML, CSS, creative, design, UX, Photoshop) and rewrite your resume headline. This attention-grabbing line will be an indicator to the hiring manager that you’re a good fit for the job.
Career Change Resume Examples
Below are excerpts from career change resumes to show how updating experience descriptions and using the right keywords can create a more targeted resume for your new career path. Note that these examples are excerpts, so they won’t convey all necessary qualifications for a persuasive submission package.
Career Change Resume Example 1: Writer transitioning to social media coordinator
This resume shines a spotlight on the parts of the writing job that relate to social media. It drops irrelevant tasks or procedures that don’t correlate to a social media position.
WRITER, Kansas University, 2010–2014
Responsible for researching, writing, and editing blog posts, white papers, product descriptions, and web copy. Meets tight deadlines. Uses WordPress for uploading and updating copy. Gathers quotes from sources as needed and writes compelling headlines.
Online Content Writer, 2010–2014
Writes copy optimized for web and social media accounts.
Articles are shared on company social media profiles to drive traffic.
Monitors performance of articles on social media.
Collaborates with social media manager to ensure content is informative and appealing.
Updates content based on social media engagement and feedback.
Career Change Resume Example 2: Military police officer transitioning to civilian administrative assistant role
This resume effectively gets rid of jargon that may not make sense for the new role. It also highlights the administrative-related tasks of their job to show that they have the skills needed.
PROTECTION LEVEL 1 (PL-1) AREA SUPERVISOR / VISITOR CONTROL CENTER CLERK
98th Security Forces Squadron (AF), Joint Base
1 Sep 2010–1 Sep 2011
Provides an immediate armed response to alarms involving Air Force Protection Level (PL) 1, 2, and 3 resources. Visitor Control Center Clerk; processed 850 personnel into the AECC and DBIDS systems.
Security and Law Enforcement / Active Duty Military – Air Force
Special Duty: VISITOR CONTROL CENTER CLERK, 2010–2011
Managed credential badge systems. Ensured controlled base entry: verified credentials, authorized base access, and performed diligent resource security. Gathered information from a variety of resources, including archives, files, manuals, Internet, and personnel. Prepared documents and created information databases in Microsoft office programs.
- Achieved 100% compliance with documentation protocols
- Processed 250+ customers per month
- Briefed 35+ managers
Career Change Resume Example 3: Financial advisor transitioning to outside sales
This resume added relevant sales keywords to their accomplishments and tasks to help draw the connection between their financial job and a sales job.
Senior Financial Advisor, Hathaway Branch Office, JP Maple Chase 6/2013–2/2015
Assisted clients working towards long-term financial goals by delivering personalized investment solutions. Managed financial portfolio of $2 million in private client assets.
- Increased assets under management by 30%
- Converted 15% of assets into fee-based accounts
Senior Financial Advisor, JP Maple Chase 6/2013–2/2015
Sold financial products within the Hathaway territory. Managed a $2 million portfolio.
- Sales: Increased portfolio value by 30% by fostering trust-based relationships
- Lead conversion: Rated top 5% for converting leads into revenue-generating customers
- Territory management: Captured and maintained 95% of territory sales accounts through effective sales techniques—cold calls, marketing, surveys, networking, and presentations
Perfecting Your Career Change Resume
You’re in good company if you’re looking to change careers. Use these resume career change tips to make the transition as smooth as possible, and be sure to check out FlexJobs’ listings to help you find your next career path. Furthermore, we offer personalized career coaching through our team of in-house experts.
If you’re switching careers, we can help make sure that you’re ready to nail your interviews. Learn more today!