Resume Tips for Career Changers [With Summary Section Template]
Shifting careers was always a challenge, even before 2020. One of the biggest hurdles career changers face is being able to show hiring managers how their past work experience will help them succeed in the new role.
Did you know hiring managers only spend an average of six seconds reading each resume? That being the case, career changers must learn how to stand out and share their stories effectively.
Want to know how to get started?
Understand What Hiring Managers Are Looking For
What do hiring managers want? Someone who can do a job and do it well. Considering that recruiters sort through hundreds or thousands of resumes before they invite anyone to interview, you don’t want to make them connect the dots between your previous experience and what’s required for the job you want. Rather, you’ll have to paint a clear picture of what you’ll be able to do for the company.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
Take Stock of Your Transferable Skills
Take a close look at the job description and do your best to reflect its language in your resume as much as you honestly can. This not only helps hiring managers connect the dots between your previous experience and the job you’re after, but it will also help you get past digital screening tools looking for certain words on resumes.
A hiring manager will only interview someone who can be effective and do the job well. The best way to prove you’re that person is by sharing that you have a track record of being effective in your past roles.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a finance professional or in a management role to quantify your work experience. Simply start by asking yourself these questions:
• How much did you do?
• How often did you do it?
• What were the tangible results, and over what period?
Here are a few examples of statements that quantify work experience:
• Managed public relations communications, including 100+ press releases and 10 media kits, for 10 clients in the financial services industry.
• Reviewed 25 article submissions per day and narrowed down to the top two for publication in the next day’s newspaper.
• Launched a six-month capital campaign resulting in $8.2 million in donations, a 30 percent increase from the previous year’s campaign.
Write a Summary Section at the Top of Your Resume
For the average job seeker, a summary section is often redundant, a poor use of valuable space. For the career changer or someone with a non-linear career path, however, a summary section can be a valuable asset. A good summary section will be a great resource when it comes to owning your narrative and branding yourself.
Also, it’s important to be sure that the most important words in your summary section stand out. You can do this in two ways:
• Bold certain words or phrases in your summary section that you believe are the most important for the hiring manager to see as they skim through your resume.
• Include a “Core Competencies” or “Skills” section beneath your summary (these should also be in line with your transferable skills).
Overall, your summary section should follow this format:
• Top: List three descriptions of who you are, e.g., “political campaign professional, business operations, account management.”
• Middle: Briefly quantify your experience to demonstrate your impact.
• Bottom: List key skills or competencies that align with your transferable skills.
Here are a couple examples of great summary sections that you can make your own:
Political Campaign Professional | Business Operations | Account Management
Dynamic and motivated professional having launched a six-month capital campaign resulting in $8.2 million in donations, a 30 percent increase from the previous year’s campaign. Built and managed cross-functional teams of 10 or more individuals, demonstrating exceptional communication skills and making critical decisions during challenges. Instrumental in managing a pivotal business shift during a period of crisis. An adaptable and transformational leader with an ability to work independently; create weekly presentations; and gather data for weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual business reports.
Social media expert with expertise in the creation and management of social media strategies and campaigns for global retail organizations
• Extensive experience in the commercial utilization of multiple social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
• Built successful social strategies that increased brand awareness, promoted customer engagement, and drove web traffic and conversions.
• Earned a degree in psychology and have a strong business acumen, bringing a customer-focused approach to online and social marketing.
Give the Most Resume Real Estate to the Most Relevant Work Experience
We would typically tell someone with a more traditional career progression to give the most space on their resume to the roles they’ve had most recently, as those would likely be the roles with the most relevant experience.
For those changing careers or with non-linear career paths, however, we recommend giving more detail for the roles that are the most similar to the type of role you’re now looking for.
Pro tip: Don’t leave any important information for the second page of your resume (if you have one). There’s a decent chance a hiring manager won’t make it to the second page of your resume, so make sure whatever is most impressive about you shows up on the first page. Did you have a great education? Put it on the first page. Had a job several years ago with a lot of relevant responsibilities? Put it on the first page.
Own Your Narrative
Tell your story so the recruiter has no choice but to leave with the impression you want them to have about you. Before writing or editing your resume, make sure you have a clear understanding of the picture you want to leave the hiring manager, one that paints you as the perfect candidate for the job because of your varied experience, not despite it.