Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Donlin
Career changes are common today. And challenging.
If you’re like most people trying to switch careers, you’ve had a hard time writing an effective résumé and cover letter . Because to do so, you have to prove you have the skills and/or experience to do a job that’s very different from what you’ve done before.
Here’s how to make that career switch by writing a résumé and cover letter that get results.
- Consider taking a half-step toward a new career.
Let’s say you’re an administrative assistant … who wants to be a lion tamer. You can certainly try to move right into lion taming and write a résumé that emphasizes those skills.
But another way would be to get a job as an administrative assistant at a company employing lion tamers. Once inside, you can try for an internal promotion to lion taming after you’ve had a chance to learn from those on staff.
- Avoid functional résumés.
The functional résumé, which usually lists “skills” or “areas of expertise,” followed by a sparse career history, is the kiss of death.
It’s used by job seekers to hide something in their past, which is a red flag for most hiring managers.
So, what résumé format works best?
Try a hybrid format.
Write a résumé that mixes relevant skills, achievements and experience, with your most valuable points near the beginning.
You could lead with a tailored objective, like this: OBJECTIVE “Position in lion taming where skills in communication and a strong knowledge of animal control will add value.”
Then, follow with a PROFILE section, where you define and develop the 2-4 skills or areas of expertise you offer. These can come from anywhere in your career — a degree you completed last month or a hobby that makes you an expert.
If room allows, follow with a SELECTED ACHIEVEMENTS section, where you can include 2-4 bullet points describing the best things you’ve done related your target job. You can include achievements from paid or volunteer work, hobbies or education.
Then follow with your EDUCATION/TRAINING or EXPERIENCE section, depending on which is more relevant to your new career.
Be sure to include dates, explain any gaps and write in language that fits your next job.
- Use your cover letter to really state your case.
If you show enthusiasm in your cover letter and make it easy for the reader to see that you have the potential to succeed in a new career, your chances of doing so are much improved!
Taken together, a résumé that makes it easy for employers to see your relevant skills, combined with a hard-hitting cover letter, can help make your career change a success.
Best of luck to you!
. Since 1996, he and his team have provided resumes, cover letter s and online job-search assistance to clients in all 50 states and 23 countries. Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly, CBS Radio, and many others.
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