Ultimate Guide to Creating a Resumé for a Career Change

Are you looking at the job market and considering a new career field, but don't know where to start? Don't worry! This ultimate guide to creating a resume for a career change will show you how to create a resume that will land you the job of your dreams!

Key Takeaways

Are you looking at the job market and considering a new career field, but don't know where to start? Don't worry! This ultimate guide to creating a resume for a career change will show you how to create a resume that will land you the job of your dreams!

We'll walk you through each step, from identifying your transferable skills to highlighting them on your resume. So whether you're just starting out or have some experience, this guide has something for everyone ready to write their career change resume!

Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course

How a Career Change Resume Is Different

Switching careers is scary. And making career changes requires a different type of resume to showcase your skills and experience.

First off, realize that even though you might not have the experience you want, you do have skills necessary to change careers. You just need to find out what they are and highlight them in the best resume format for career changers – the combination format functional resume.

When changing careers, highlight your transferable skills with a functional resume format to deemphasize work experience and show off your skills!

Transferable skills are those you acquired in other fields but can apply to your new field. These may include leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving, or even technical knowledge. 

By focusing on these skills, instead of job experience in your resume, you can show employers that you're the right fit for your new career.

And the good news is that skills may be slowly replacing degrees. According to LinkedIn CEO, Ryan Roslansky, "The future belongs to the skilled. Skills, particularly tech skills are more in demand than ever." (1)

A functional combination resume is the best way to highlight your skills to hiring managers, allowing you to show off both your qualifications and experience while also emphasizing your skills.

Customize your resume based on the job you're applying for and get results! Check out this example resume created from a resume template on Canva!

Resume for Career Change: Combination Resume Format

Stand-out resumes these days are not your old black and white top to bottom lists of education and experience. Selecting a career change resume format that highlights your best features helps your resume leap off the page. (more on design format later ;)

And since you're a career changer, you will likely want to highlight your highly transferable skills or certifications above your job experience.

One way you'll do that is by creating a career change resume objective and summary of qualifications!

Your name will obviously go at the top. But after that, you’ll need 5 basic areas on your resume. 

1. Contact Information

  • Relevant Career Network sites
  • Title (job title you want)

2. Career Objective and Summary (MOST IMPORTANT)

3. Education and Certificates with Bullet Points

4. Highlight Transferable Skills with Bullet Points (IMPORTANT)

5. Relevant Work Experience

We will go through each section with examples of how to create your resume and change careers with style! We'll also include what NOT to do!

But first, let's start at the beginning -- doing your homework.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Research First (for a Knockout Resume!!)

First, read everything about the career you want.

For example, suppose you manage the IT help desk teams for a local university but want to change fields by going into project management for a software creation company. In that case, you'll need to research your new field to understand your relevant skills.

Check Out the Duties and Skills of Your Desired Position

First, find the career change resume skills that project managers need. According to Indeed, some of the skills required as a project manager include:

  • Adaptability: Juggling many tasks while assisting others when needed.
  • Budgeting: Efficiently spending budget to maximize benefits
  • Decision-making: Assessing relevant information for informed decisions
  • Industry knowledge: Understanding team needs to make informed decisions
  • Leadership: Motivating staff members and providing meaningful instruction
  • Problem-solving: Identifying problems and solutions
  • Risk assessment: Estimating potential project risks, costs, and probabilities
  • Time management: efficiently keep the project on schedule (2)

Consider which duties you can perform well and which skills allow you to do so. Make a note of the skills that would make you a perfect candidate for the job!

However, if you feel concerned that you need more skills to land the job, you might try earning a certificate or certification online with Unmudl.

For an IT project management position, you might try one of these courses:

Check out Job Description Examples

Starting a job search is exciting but simultaneously terrifying! You may look at job duties in job ads and see descriptions that include skills you don't have. What if you're really out of your depth here?

The fact is that people change careers all the time without all of the skills listed in the job search ads.

In fact, "if you've found a job that you want to apply for but don't meet all of the requirements, it's often still worth applying. Even without every qualification, it's possible to receive an interview and a job offer. The key is to shift your pitch toward your strengths in order to focus on the knowledge and experience you do have." (3)

And now is an excellent time to apply! In fact, 66% of companies will train and hire candidates who may be lacking in skills but have potential! (4)

So don't let job descriptions scare you, take a leap of faith and start looking at the job titles you would like to have by YOUR name!

Do some job searches and read about all the skills they require for the position. Read about these positions on sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed. And then read through articles about what it takes to find success in your new chosen profession.

Interested in a career change? Check out the full guide on how to change careers successfully.

Hone in On the Position You Want

Find a position with the exact title for which you have transferable skills OR recently received certification.

You might type "software project management positions new mexico" into the search box and see what comes up. Read the exact list of skills required for the position.

For example, let's say the ad is for an "IT Project Manager" and asks for these abilities:

  • Demonstrated knowledge or experience as an IT project manager
  • Analyze high-risk initiatives
  • Effectively facilitate meetings and present solutions using strong organizational skills
  • Understand project management methodology
  • Demonstrated analytical and creative problem-solving skills
  • Experience leading and managing project teams with accountability
  • Balance multiple priorities simultaneously while adapting to needs
  • Experience as a software developer
  • 5+ years in business administration

Now that you have the information you need, you can effectively create a resume that will land the job of your dreams!

However, if you need more skills, prove your readiness and prepare for your career change with these hot courses of study from Unmudl:

Now you can start the writing part of your resume for a career change!

Woman in Blue Suit Jacket
Photo by Jopwell

SECTION 1: "Contact Information and Title"

Write your first draft resume in a doc format first. (You can choose design elements later on.)

First, decide on your new job title and include this under your name. This helps future employers see you as the owner of this title. Start claiming who you want to be by declaring it first thing!

Next, include your contact information, including email, phone number, city and state, and any relevant social media links, such as a namesake website highlighting your best career features or a LinkedIn profile.

Add a link to another professional site if it uniquely highlights your best work. Sites such as Behance or Vimeo could work well for a graphic designer or digital video production job resume. For an IT or software engineering position, you might include a link to your Github, etc.

However, only include sites where you've carefully edited your profile to suit your new job description and bring out the relevant skills for your new path.

SECTION 2: Resume "Objective & Skills Summary"

Your resume objective and summary is crucial to show the hiring manager why you're applying for the job, and how your skills make you the best candidate.

Pro Tip: Write the rest of your resume, and then return to this section for the best results.

Don't write your objective or summary before writing the rest of your resume. You don't know what you want to write yet and won't know until you create the rest of your resume. You need to know what factors prove you're the best candidate before you can prove it to someone else!

Your resume summary is of utmost importance. If you don't catch the hiring manager or recruiter's attention in the first 6-7 seconds with your resume summary you're out of luck!

Did you know? You can use AI tools to help you build your résumé.

Highlight Your Transferable Skills

Let employers know that you have the transferable skills to excel in your new field by using exact phrases from the job description you want. By doing this, you will not only move through the hiring manager's computer keyword checks but also outshine your competition, whether they have experience or not!

Once you've identified your transferable skills, it's time to show them off on your resume! Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  • Focus on the key skills that enable you to mitigate gaps in experience.
  • Use strong action verbs (managed, developed, created, led) to make your skills stand out.
  • Be specific, Include details on the outcomes of relevant projects or tasks you've completed.
  • Quantify your accomplishments when possible, with numbers or percentages.
  • Show what you've achieved in the past

By including your transferable skills in the skills summary section of your resume and focusing on results, employers will quickly recognize that you're the perfect candidate for their position.

Your summary of qualifications should bring to life the rest of your resume! This section is your shot to show employers how you can benefit their company with your skills, experience, and accomplishments.

Be sure to include specific examples of how your skills apply to your new field. Mention some of the company's exact needs by name to show that you've done your research and are passionate about the job.

With a well-written resume summary, employers will know that you're capable and prepared for this career change. Next thing you know, you'll be sitting in that interview chair, sharing why you're THE candidate for the position!

If you're unsure you possess the skills you need, take a course or read more about changing career fields at Unmudl.

SECTION 3: "Skills List"

At this point in your career change resume, you can list the transferable skills relevant to the job you're applying for in bullet form.

  • Soft skills are interpersonal skills such as communication, problem-solving, and collaboration.
  • Hard skills include technical knowledge or abilities related to a specific field.

Think about how to highlight your soft and hard skills in a career-changer resume by considering the job description again.

Find your skills that are in the description for the job ad.

For example, as an IT manager who recently took courses in project management, you might write your skills out this way as a brainstorming exercise.

Transferable Soft Skills

  • Strong organizational
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Time Management
  • Administration and Management
  • Presentation of innovative solutions
  • Adaptability to new situations and tasks

Transferable Hard Skills

  • Advanced Project Management Concepts
  • Map vital control processes within a project ecosystem
  • Analyze data to identify trends or resolve operational problems
  • Find technical or legal issues immediately in a text
  • Write a solid project brief for a team to follow
  • Verify budget and expenses while catching errors
  • Slack, Asana, Basecamp, Clickup
  • Javascript
  • MS Project
  • Project launch and delivery
  • Reviews, reporting, and evaluations

Next, you'll make a pared-down bullet point list of your best specific skills to add to your resume.

Include what you're good at that the employer needs. Show that you have the necessary skills for the job, despite lacking experience in the field.

[photo of someone managing]

SECTION 4: "Educational Experience"

After you've included your qualifications and skills section summary, you can add more detail by including relevant educational experience.

It's crucial not to include experience unrelated to your skills and abilities for this specific role.

For example, if you have taken a study on the basics of project management, add: “Project Management Basics Course: Completed a course on advanced principles of project management.”

Be sure to include any relevant certifications in your education section. And when listing education, include information about courses, certifications, degrees, and academic achievements.

By including relevant education, you show employers that you have the background, skills, and knowledge necessary to excel in your new career field!

For example, let's say you have a degree in communications and worked in customer service for 8 years. However, you want to go into IT as a help desk employee, and you know computers.

Relevant coursework may be your best bet to show your skill set. You could try one of these on-demand and online courses from Unmudl:

SECTION 5: "Relevant Work Experience"

Carve a path to success by including relevant work experience related to the position you're applying for. When adding work experience to a career changer resume, include any jobs from your past with duties or transferable skills related to the new job.

Recruiters look at what you’ve done in the past and how you can use those experiences going forward. So writing a resume or cover letter and doing an interview are all about picking and choosing what parts of yourself to share.

Include Other Work Related to Your New Field

And if you have focused on personal projects to show your new passion for a field, don't be afraid to add them to your career change resume.

For example, if you're applying for a marketing job and you've created your own successful blog website, you might add that you've already been working in this new industry for 5 years in your spare time! You might quote your google analytics statistics to let others know how well you've done in this field so far.

You can write a career change resume in no time when you understand who you are and where you want to go!

Who Are You?

You've been many different versions of yourself over the years. Your job when writing a resume is to describe the version of yourself that excels at the position you want!

According to the Harvard Business Review, it makes sense to "pursue a diverse portfolio of options rather than just sticking single-mindedly to one. Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It’s a necessarily messy journey of exploration — and to do it right, you have to experiment with, test, and learn about a range of possible selves."

So as you consider the different sides of who you are as a person, consider which aspects of your past are worth mentioning. Think about who you've been and who you want to become.

How did your past experiences shape you into who you are right now?

List Your Past Jobs and Career Experiences

Consider the jobs you've had that required the needed transferable skills for your career change resume.

List those transferable skills from your previous roles and include any duties or projects that relate directly to a new career.

For example, if your previous role included managing teams, developing processes, or problem-solving, then list these tasks under the job.

Hone Your List

Next, consider how to hone your list and make it work on your resume.

For example, let's say you're currently an independent hairstylist. However, you want to do sales for a company that makes business-to-business sales to salons.

You notice that a particular job ad asks for objective examples of your sales skills. So, under your previous job you might mention a few of your relevant sales skills, such as:

  • Customer service, Interpersonal skills and empathy
  • In-depth knowledge of the hairstyling field and products
  • Experience upselling inventory to clients
  • Wide range of contacts and networking experience
  • Marketing experience making your own website, building an email database, and creating fliers and a short blog
  • Your YouTube channel, where you have a following of 100,000 learning about hair care products

Whatever you've been doing at past jobs, take advantage of your experiences and find the selling points for your new industry.

Even unrelated jobs can grow your universal skills! Include the positions with the technical skills and professional experience you need to succeed going forward!

And don't forget you can get certified or learn online to show your passion and knowledge in a new field!

Try one of our Unmudl network courses to develop your sales potential!

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist

Career Change Resume Examples

Job seekers can stand out in their field by catering to design trends.

For example, as a job seeker applying for sales might want a trendy resume to catch the eye of recruiters and show off style. But applying to become a business administrative assistant, you might select a classy and timeless resume format.

Check out these resume templates on Canva to get an idea of how yours could look!

Example of a Resume from Canva
Example of a Resume from Canva

What NOT To Do When Creating a Career Change Resume

Compare the career change resume example from the beginning of this blog to the one below. It's like night and day!

If you were a recruiter or hiring manager, who would you want to interview?

Problem 1- Vague Career Objective and Summary

Let's look at what NOT to do.

First, this resume has a vague resume summary, “Seeking an entry-level position in the tech project management field to use my skills and experience gained through managing IT customer service teams."

This statement contains no clear specific examples of their skills and experience! How can a recruiter see if this candidate can be an asset to the company?

The skills summary must be eye-catching, or the resume will end up in the trash on sight!

Problem 2- No Focus on Transferable Skills

The second problem is that this resume does not focus on transferable skills. It simply lists one outdated position with no explanation about the duties or accomplishments on the job. 

It also combines all of the job skills into one poorly thought out bulleted list that is longer than it should be. Also, the skills in the list are less than descriptive.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Problem 3- Poor Design

Finally, this resume is poorly designed with indents that don't make sense and strange colors. It lacks design elements that make it eye-catching, unique, and memorable.

Resumes don't have to be dull! Consider adding some bold text, icons, or other design features to make your document stand out from the crowd.

However, ensure the design is lined up well, takes notice of margins, and uses on-trend color.

Problem 4- Educational Certifications

Certifications mean quite a bit in a technical field like IT project management. And yet, this resume hides the very certifications it should proudly put front and center.

Remember that previous jobs and education don't have to be from a traditional route!

In fact, many large corporations announced during The Great Recession that they would eliminate degree requirements in much of their hiring. (5) This means you can find a job with certificates, certifications, or boot camps more often post 2009!

Here are a few of the many courses offered by our Unmudl network that can help you transition into a different career path.

Snag Your Dream Job

Changing careers can be intimidating, but with the right strategy, you can create an effective resume that will help you stand out from other applicants.

Remember to include certifications, transferable skills, and relevant skills, and design a unique document that grabs attention and tells your story. And don't forget to add your career change cover letter!

Creating a resume for a career change doesn't need to be intimidating or overwhelming. Just follow the steps above, and you'll get there!

And if you need help learning the skills you need as a career changer, look no further than Unmudl's network of community colleges and businesses ready to hire!

Check out these hot career changers courses!

Unmudl Can Help

Find the classes you need to learn the skills that employers look for. Take courses for continuing education credits (CEUs) toward a professional license or certification. Or attend a BootCamp course of study! These courses can help you level up in your current career or take you directly into a new one. 

At Unmudl, we connect learners, educators, and employers for a Skills to Jobs™ experience! Our network can help you go from learner to lucrative career in a matter of weeks with business and community college partnership courses such as:

Find courses that employers have hired from to see where you could go after upskilling your resume!

With flexible schedules, online on-demand courses, reimbursement for Skills to Jobs™ courses, low priced options, WIOA tuition assistance, and military tuition assistance, our Unmudl network has something for everyone!

When you finish learning, interview with our network of employers who are ready to hire. It's that simple.

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Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Last updated on:
March 5, 2024

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