How to write a resume when changing careers?

Do you feel burned out or unsatisfied with your current job? Do you think there is a profession out there that’s more suitable for you?

Switching careers is an immense process. Leaving behind your life’s work for the unknown can be stressful. You must step outside your bubble and start from scratch.

The first step in the job-hunting process is to have a well-written CV to promote your skills and stand out from candidates who might be more experienced than you. It’s important to understand that there are some specific guidelines to consider when writing your career change CV.

Read on to learn how to format an eye-catching resume which will increase the chances of getting your dream job.

Do your homework

Before you write your career change CV, research the desired job description and earn know-how education and experience employers seek or risk applicant tracking systems (ATS) devalue your application and destroy your chance.

  • Check out job postings or the best resume examples for your desired position and note what recruiters/hiring managers look for in candidates.
  • Once you put a pin on the target job requirements, think of a way to implement your professional history and make it relevant to the wanted position.
  • Stay up-to-date on news and trends in your desired professional field.
  • Contact people in the industry and find out which parts of your professional background are most important to employers.

Showcase your transferable skills

Employers often look for people who can display a magnificent set of transferable skills. Maybe you don’t recognize them yet but we’re sure you can. You develop such abilities throughout school, at university, in your social life, and through professional experience.

It is crucial to identify and give examples in your resume of your transferable skills. This displays your professional attitude and shows employers you’re a perfect fit for the job.

Transferable skills include communication, leadership, team-player, and problem-solving abilities. Consider adding relevant skills developed through hobbies, charity work, and internships. Adding these experiences in your career change CV will show recruiters you’re adaptive and will quickly adjust to an unfamiliar working environment.

Pick the right format

Now that you know what employers seek, and what you offer, choose the most suitable CV format.

There are two formats applicable for career changers:

  • Functional resume: It accents your skills and experience, rather than your chronological career history. While functioning resumes are not preferred by employers, they are a must for career changers, people who have gaps in their employment history, or whose occupational history does not apply to the desired job. Begin your resume with a career goal and qualifications summary and then add functional categories that highlight your transferable skills and experience.
  • Combination Resume Format: It combines the reverse chronological resume format and the functional resume format. The combination resume displays the skills and achievements of a candidate with detailed proof from their work experience. Moreover, it highlights their occupation profile from the most recent to the initial stages.

Remember, whichever format you choose, the summary at the top is most important. Use this paragraph to mention qualifications, accomplishments, and other credentials that will catch the attention of recruiters/hiring managers.

Add resume objectives

It is a short, specific statement that displays your career focus. It also gives you the opportunity to promote yourself and show the value you can bring to the company. The typical career change objective should be no longer than 2-3 sentences.

For example: “A hardworking individual with experience in Software Development, who is rigorous with attention to detail, and has deep knowledge of development tools and language seeks a position as a Senior Software Developer Specialist in the ABC company.”

Watch your language

When you work in a specific niche for a long period, jargon comes into play. While you could use idioms, sometimes it can do more harm than good, as it can confuse recruiters in your new field.

Avoid non-transferable acronyms and buzzwords from your previous area of expertise. Instead, try to explain job titles, achievements, and work-related tasks in simple language that’s easy to understand. Even better, consider “translating” those skills into the new job insider-lingo.

Add measurable achievements

Direct numbers help paint a better picture of employee engagement. They outline your contributions and value in a way easy to assess by hiring managers. Potential employers want to see a candidate that stands out, and quantifiable achievements are key to do so.

What numbers do recruiters look for?

Here’s an example of measurable achievements you can include in your career change resume:

  • increase in market share
  • number of times chosen as team or project leader
  • grants you won
  • publications that feature your work

Put education in the right place

If you want to switch careers, keep in mind that there are some differences in the place of the paragraphs.

For instance, in the regular CV, the Education section is prior to the Experience paragraph. Whereas in the career change CV, it stands after.

The reason is that career changes often attend courses and earn degrees related to the new field of work. This is why it is important to show to potential employers that you’re invested and have some experience for the wanted position.

Omit unnecessary information

It’s crucial to understand that every statement in your resume should lead the recruiter to the conclusion that you’re qualified. Making your CV “an autobiography” of every role you held doesn’t bode well as it makes you look like an amateur in the eyes of potential employers.

Keep your resume short and focused on facts. Also, avoid adding hobbies, interests, and personal information that aren’t relevant to your desired position.

Start your career today

If you are looking to make a career change, or update your skills, then, the International Career Institute can help. Gain the necessary expertise for your desired job today. View our courses here.

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

See our courses
Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.