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How to write a stunning career change résumé

Career change is becoming the norm for most people. This creates a challenge when trying to put together a resume. Jobseekers educate themselves about the benefits of both chronological and functional resumes as well. But when a career change is in process it can be a major challenge to formulate a resume that demonstrates credibility to a potential employer. Kittens sitting in cat toilet This is yet another skill that jobseekers are supposed to master. And let’s face it – almost everyone is going to undergo a career change…
…and it’s going to be a bit messy!


The challenge for GenX, GenY and Boomers alike!:

For decades we have considered a career as a progression from one position to another. In each position, we gained skills and expertise that prepared us for the next position. Today, this has changed. Technology has changed how businesses get work done and many of our skills are no longer needed. The consequence is that we now have a new career model.

A chronological resume made sense when one job prepared us for the next one. Today, many people find that their job history includes transitional jobs, part-time positions and temporary consulting contracts. A chronological resume doesn’t look so good!

The big question becomes, how to manage the resume challenge today when hiring professionals want to see our chronological history and it doesn’t demonstrate our credibility to do the job?
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The new career model requires three key practices. I’m calling these a “practice” because they are repeatable activities that should be regularly “practiced.”
  1. The practice of being flexible.
  2. The practice of identifying technological trends.
  3. The practice of identifying opportunities.
These three “practices” don’t seem all that interesting at first glance, however, a deeper look may reveal otherwise. The results of these three practices will reveal critical information needed to create a career change resume.

Key Career Practice No. 1: Flexibility

The first key practice was discussed in a previous blog and I encourage you to read it to understand how flexibility can make or break a career.

Key Career Practice No. 2: Identifying technological trends

Technology has become a formidable challenge for every career. I don’t believe there are any exceptions to this. Intentionally watching trends in your career path will give you a heads-up on which skills may be replaced with technology and which skills will continue to be needed.

Regardless of your industry, consider routine reading on innovations, technologies, and trends. I suggest that this practice become a regular part of every person’s career management process.

Key Career Practice No. 3: Identifying opportunities

This practice will require most people to change their approach to finding potential job opportunities. There are two distinct facets of this practice:
  1. Online: including company websites, job boards, business social platforms (LinkedIn), recruiters and their company websites, boutique job boards.
  2. In your network: including recruiters, your colleagues from your current and past employment, your mentors, your mentees.
Identify a core group of experts and develop a relationship with them. They should understand your area of expertise and you should understand theirs. Your core group should be experts in areas that are related to your sets of skills.

Three critical career success tips:

Did you catch the critical points? Here they are again:
  1. Be flexible and willing to follow changes in your career trajectory.
  2. Track technology and industry trends to know what skills will be replaced and which will continue to be needed.
  3. Develop a business network of people who know your expertise. (Find mentors and be one!)
These three tips should give you the basis to list your transferrable skills. As technology replaces some of your skills, other skills should take center stage to accommodate the current jobs market and the availability of potential employment.

The Résumé Challenge:

Even if you are a current jobseeker, these three practices are a must. You can do the research from your current perspective. However, I strongly recommend that it become a regular part of your career management. If these “practices” are in place, then you are ready to move forward with a résumé.

Career Management Steps:

  1. Develop a comprehensive lists of your skill sets
  2. Cross out those skills that are being replaced by technology
  3. Include those skills that you are developing
  4. Identify which skills represent your greatest opportunity for success in the current jobs market.
  5. Select opportunities from which to develop your résumé.
Just because you have a skill, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a high potential to find a well-paying job. Your success rate will depend on the number of available positions and the ratio of qualified candidates.

Case Studies: Identifying a new career trajectory.

During the Great Recession, many mid-career managers were laid off. There were few opportunities and a huge number of qualified candidates. Those market conditions were not idea, to say the least. However, most companies were trying to find ways to save money so process improvement was a much better market. Most management positions deal with process improvement so the shift was reasonable and logical.
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When Samantha, a music teacher was laid off during an economic downturn, she hoped she could stay in some form of education. Her research showed that companies needed trainers to support new technologies that were emerging in the medical fields.

Résumé Transformation Process:

Once you have a clear idea of your target positions and you know there are ample opportunities with jobs to apply for, you can put together your résumé.
  1. Identify the core competencies needed in your new career trajectory.
  2. Carefully examine your bullet points that demonstrate your expertise in your former positions.
  3. Eliminate those bullets that do not reflect the activities needed in your target positions.
  4. Add bullets that reflect the skill sets that may not have been important in your former career focus.
  5. Prioritize the bullets to match the activities in your new career focus.
Gerber flowers in green boots
REALLY IMPORTANT POINT: What may have seemed inconsequential in a former position may have high value in a new career setting. This is going to be a repurposing maneuver.

Case Studies: Resume Transformation.

Research manager to elder care specialist: Jody had worked as a researcher in a hospital for 30 years when she was laid off. She had also taken care of both parents through difficult health challenges. Grants to support her research was reduced to a minimum, so she decided to focus on elder care.

She created her resume with seven years’ experience caring for her parents. She included her work as a liaison with the medical and legal communities. She started a blog to guide others who were caring for their parents at this juncture in their lives.

When describing her former research work, she only included that work that pertained to geriatric care. All other research was taken off her resume.

Store manager to logistics specialist:
Jared was an excellent store manager for a big-box retail chain. As stores began to close due to online sales, he saw that distribution centers were regularly hiring new managers. Jared removed everything from his resume that did not directly relate to managing a team and the process to receive product and quickly move it to a new location. He then prioritized his bullet points to reflect the daily work of a logistics team manager.

He took a job in a distribution center that was at a lesser salary, but offered him the opportunity to move up in the company. He has been promoted twice in two years.

Millennial Career Changes:

If you are now struggling to get your career to move forward, consider this process as a regular part of your career management. Here are some specific tips:
  1. Stay connected with leaders and communities in your industry through LinkedIn.
  2. Make friends with recruiters and connect with them on a regular basis (quarterly). Ask who they are looking for and suggest strong candidates that you know and trust. When you connect with them ask what changes or trends they have observed in your industry.
  3. Routinely (weekly) search for technological trends, new applications and the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in your areas of interest.
  4. Identify and nurture relationships with mentors in your areas of expertise.
  5. Be a mentor to a few colleagues who are entering your profession.
  6. Develop your social assets to surround your industry as well as those industries that are associated with your primary focus. (E.g. If you are in solar energy, watch for trends in wind power (solar turbines!) and energy conversion.)
  7. Develop a side business to earn extra cash so that you always have a backup in the event that your job, your company, or your industry takes a sudden turn for the worse.
  8. If your position includes a generalized skill set such as “business analysis” …be VERY careful what industry you apply those skills and ensure that technology isn’t about to take your job. E.g. Business analysis in Insurance claims is not likely going to be around much longer. Financial analysts in the financial sector – watch out! Technology will likely take your job in the near future.
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Master these jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.

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