Crafting a Career Change Resume: Tips and Examples

Crafting a Career Change Resume: Tips and Examples

Changing careers is intimidating – even professionals who have been in their field for 5 years have difficulties switching industries, but it feels impossible for people who have spent upwards of 10 years in one role. To successfully land your new job, you’ll need a stellar career change resume. In this guide, you’ll learn how to build a great resume for changing careers, including how to get your foot in the door, showcase transferable skills, and answer difficult questions.

What’s a career change resume and how does it help?

A career change resume is a type of resume aimed at helping job seekers switch from one work field to another. It typically includes a resume summary or statement detailing a professional’s intent to shift careers and relevant, transferable skills. Career transition resumes are commonly used alongside a cover letter that also describes the worker’s motivation for changing careers.

Career switch resumes are crucial for changing from one line or work to another – even if you possess the skills to change jobs, the hiring manager won’t know unless you lay it out for them. Recruiters may not be familiar with your role history and you can help them understand the relevance. For example, a marketing professional may know how to use a CRM, and you can describe how this makes you a great fit for a sales position.

These resumes typically use a functional structure (also called a skills-based resume), as it allows you to focus on your core capabilities and describe how they’re useful, rather than relying on work history.

There are many ways to design your resume for unique situations, like crafting a creative resume that displays graphic design skills. For more insights and tips, browse our resume articles.

Expert Tip:

Consider completing a course in your newly chosen field or looking for volunteer work to gain valuable skills and experience. This gives you concrete experience to list on your career change resume. It may also introduce you to new professional connections.

Building a career transition resume: 3 steps

Now let’s go over a quick guide to building a career switch resume. 

Before you get started, make sure you build a career change cover letter to complement your resume. This should be a three- to five-paragraph letter that explains your intent to switch careers, along with your relevant work experience and skills. Make sure to include a few of your most powerful achievements with measurable metrics.

Most cover letters are one page, but if you have extensive experience and it would harm your chances to exclude it, then it’s okay to extend it to two pages.

Remember that your cover letter should align with your resume, but not repeat the information verbatim. Try to include metrics that aren’t in your resume, or go into greater detail – like describing a project in depth.

1. Introduce yourself and your motivations

Start by explaining your history and why you want this change in your resume summary. You want the hiring manager to understand your motivations, but what’s more, you need to make sure they don’t think your resume is there by accident.

To have enough room for this description, it’s a good idea to choose a resume template with a little extra space in the summary section.

Let’s go over a few detailed tips.

Discuss your current role

Quickly mention your current job position to give the hiring manager important context. This doesn’t have to be long – about one sentence is fine. Here’s an example:

“Skilled graphic designer with 7 years of experience in optimizing user interfaces and shaping brand-aligned websites.”

Explain your desire to switch careers

Follow that statement with a sentence describing why you’re applying. You want this to immediately follow your current role so the hiring manager understands why you applied.

Try something like this:

“Excited to use keen UX/UI design skills to make a career switch to a Front-End Developer role.”

Show them your motivations

Tell the recruiter why you’re making the change. Hiring managers want to understand why you’re undergoing such as difficult transition; it helps show your drive and determination.

Here’s an example:

Ready dive into my passion for connecting with customers by developing my user experience skills and expanding my knowledge of audience engagement.”

2. Discuss your top transferable skills

This is the most important part of your career transition resume: Showing the hiring manager which skills and work experiences make you the ideal candidate.

You’ll need to study your desired career, compare it to your past work experiences, and pick out similar hard and soft skills. It’s also a good idea to consider your education and hobbies and see if they hold any relevant transferable skills.

Let’s quickly cover how to find your most desirable transferable abilities.

Highlight transferable soft skills

Soft skills are the most transferable professional capabilities. They aren’t tied to any particular role, so they’re useful in a wide range of positions.

Here are some of the top soft skills used in hundreds of professions:

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Innovation

For more insights, check out our full guide on the importance of soft skills.

Showcase relevant hard skills

Hard skills are technical and role-specific, so they don’t appear to be transferable at first glance. However, you can discover their flexibility between roles when you look with a keen eye.

For example, both marketing professionals and salespeople use CRMs daily, and Microsoft Excel is used by hundreds of roles, including HR professionals, administrative assistants, and project managers.

Consider what matters most to your new role

Get in the right mindset and create a resume that follows the best practices associated with your chosen profession. For instance, an engineer should dedicate a separate section to their hard skills to emphasize their importance, and a designer should create a colorful creative resume.

Browse our resume examples to study the top strategies of role-specific resumes and look natural among other people in your field.

3. Anticipate questions and have your answers ready

People are bound to ask you why you’re changing careers. Don’t get discouraged and leverage this as a great opportunity to talk about yourself and your professional aspirations.

Carry this attitude into the job interview. Get excited and show recruiters why you’re eager to jump into a new line of work. Hiring managers will love to see a candidate with such drive and motivation.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – let’s see how we address questions in a change of careers resume.

Put your relevant background front and center

Use a functional resume structure to put your relevant skills right in front of the recruiter’s eyes. This shows them why you’re applying before they can even ask. 

It also shows them you have the exact skills they’re looking for, regardless of previous job titles. Some other candidates may have a similar job title as the open role but are still missing key abilities.

Provide solid references

Ask colleagues and friends if they would mind being a reference for you. Recruiters will appreciate talking to someone who can vouch for your transferable skills and dedication.

Listing references directly on a resume isn’t common practice anymore and most job seekers create a reference page to give to employers. To learn how to build one, read our guide on putting references on resumes.

Looking for more advice? Check out our top 10 resume tips to help you land your dream job.

“Career transition resumes are commonly used alongside a cover letter that also describes the worker’s motivation for changing careers.”

Build a career change resume and shift to your ideal role

Make the switch you’ve always wanted and jump into a new professional adventure. Use our best practices to build a winning career change resume:

  • Use your resume summary to describe your background and motivation
  • List your top transferable skills
  • Use a functional resume to put your relevant abilities center stage
  • Research your desired role and build a resume that suits the industry

Let’s not waste time. Head over to CVwizard’s Resume Builder to make a top-notch career change resume that highlights your unique skills and history.

Share via:

Make an impression with your resume

Create and download a professional resume quickly and easily.

Create resume