Crafting an excellent résumé can be difficult. Even more difficult is crafting an excellent résumé when you're a career changer competing against other applicants who already have work experience in the field you're trying to break into. But the fact that you haven't had a job in your new industry before doesn't mean you don't have the skills to get one. It's all about how you present yourself.
"The purpose of a résumé is to convince the hiring manager that you are the best candidate for the job," said Shweta Khare, career expert and founder of Careerbright. "It might not be an easy thing to convey convincingly if you are changing careers, but with some effort, you can stand out in the competition."
The best way to approach résumé-writing, Khare said, is to highlight your skills and extenuate your shortcomings or lack of experience. Here are a few ways to make yourself look great on paper and land an interview. The rest is up to you.
Use the right format
Every possible industry you can work in has its own culture. If this is your first time writing a résumé for a job in our new field, check out as many sample résumés as you can to get a good idea of what the accepted norm is.
"This is a time when you want to conform to the standards," said Richie Frieman, author of "Reply All [And Other Ways to Tank Your Career]" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013). "A law firm is expecting something much more conservative than a graphic design or architecture firm. If your industry allows you to be creative or unique, make sure you take advantage of it. The opposite is true as well: An accounting firm will most likely not appreciate an artistic-looking résumé."
Volunteer and freelance in your new field
You don't necessarily need to have years of experience behind you, but unless you can show that you have the knowledge and skills to do what's expected in your new field, your résumé will never be considered. Khare suggests doing some volunteer or freelance work related to the jobs you'll be applying to.
"Many hiring managers feel that volunteer work makes job candidates more attractive," Khare told BusinessNewsDaily. "If you have volunteered or done freelance work, it counts as work experience."
Quantify your achievements
Regardless of the field(s) you worked in before, hiring managers want to see quantifiable achievements to know that you can make a positive change in any situation. Your résumé should tell the reader about what problems you solve and how you can solve them, even if they aren't related to your new industry.
"You need to put quantifiable data for the hiring manager to analyze," said Charley Polachi, managing partner of recruiting firm Polachi Access Executive Search. "What was the state of the company when you went in and what is the state today? Hopefully it's up, and if it is, what did you do there to improve it?"
Look at the resumes of people with your potential job
You can gain a lot of insight into what needs to go on your résumé from your network community. Do some LinkedIn research and get introduced to individuals that currently have a similar job to the one you want. See what kind of experience and skills they list, and use that as your guide when presenting yourself on paper. More importantly, knowing someone in the industry could give you an "in" with a hiring manager.
"Your network can not only help you land a job in the field, but also offer feedback on your résumé," Khare said. "Find a contact who works in a similar position and ask them to review your résumé before you send it in."
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