Career Change Resume: Translating Your Skills [Examples]



Career change resume

Statistics show that working professionals change jobs an average of 12 times over the course of their work life, spending five years or less in each position. If you’re feeling that itch, you’re not alone. And it might even be a great time to try something entirely new and change your career field. We’ve got a few tips on how to translate your skills on your career change resume to ensure a smooth transition as you embark on a new journey.

“Career changes are very common and have become more so in the last 10 to 15 years with the changing economy and jobs landscape,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, FlexJobs’ senior career specialist and career coach. “It’s something we work on often with clients, and one of the most important factors in making a successful career change is translating your best skills from your previous career so employers can understand that you’re a great fit, even if you’re coming from a different field.”

How to translate skills on your career change resume

Communicate using new career language.

Making a major career change means that communicating effectively in the language of your new chosen field is critical. Look over job descriptions and industry news to learn and mimic the keywords and jargon used in this industry. Using these words in your career change resume and cover letter will be imperative to show that you’re up to date and understand the ins and outs of the career field. This will also show the care and research you’ve taken when making this decision.

Include soft skills as well as hard skills.

Assess the skills you currently possess and what skills your new career will require. Many of the skills you use in your current job can likely be used in your new career field — be sure to include these in your resume. While the hard skills that you’ll feature on your resume will take center stage, such as your degree or technical skills, your soft skills will need to be a main focus as well. Transferable soft skills will include your communication skills, leadership qualities, time management abilities, and others. Soft skills are important to include in a career change resume and will translate well for any transition in which you decide to embark.

Gain experience through volunteering, freelancing, or job shadowing.

As you create a resume for your career change, you may find that you want to beef up sections that you’re lacking in specific areas. Consider volunteering, job shadowing, or freelancing in your new career area to gain valuable skills that you can add. This is an excellent way to take your new career out for a test drive while acquiring valuable experience. Add this experience to show a potential employer that you’ve taken initiative to determine this is a suitable career for you.

Career change resume examples.

Below are excerpts from career change resumes to show how updating experience descriptions and using the right keywords can create a more targeted resume for your new career path. Note that these examples are excerpts, so they won’t convey all necessary qualifications for a persuasive submission package.

Career change resume Example 1: Custodian during college transitioning to retail buyer after graduation

Before:

CUSTODIAN, Kansas University, 2010–2014

Responsible for the care and upkeep of multiple campus facilities including, dormitory, gymnasium, sporting stadium, cafe, office, and library. Cared for 20+ buildings on route. Performed routine janitorial duties, responded to emergency calls, and provided incident response services. Ordered supplies. One of only nine custodians qualified to operate boom lifts and window washing equipment. Tech 1 Custodial Certification.

After: 

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, Plant Services Custodian, 2010–2014

Cared for 20+ buildings while pursuing education.

    • Performance: Selected with top 10% of personnel for special training
    • Teamwork: Enhanced team performance by establishing solid working relationships built on trust and communication
    • Inventory management: Improved critical supply access by setting up a new inventory system through organizing and streamlining inventory, identifying proper vendors, and implementing an inventory tracking system

Career change resume Example 2: Military police officer transitioning to civilian administrative assistant role

Before:

PROTECTION LEVEL 1 (PL-1) AREA SUPERVISOR / VISITOR CONTROL CENTER CLERK
98th Security Forces Squadron (AF), Joint Base
1 Sep 2010–1 Sep 2011

Provides immediate armed response to alarms involving Air Force Protection Level (PL) 1, 2, and 3 resources. Visitor Control Center Clerk; processed 850 personnel into the AECC and DBIDS systems.

After:

Security and Law Enforcement / Active Duty Military – Air Force
Special Duty: VISITOR CONTROL CENTER CLERK, 2010–2011

Managed credential badge systems. Ensured controlled base entry: verified credentials, authorized base access, and performed diligent resource security. Gathered information from a variety of resources, including archives, files, manuals, Internet, and personnel. Prepared documents and created information databases in Microsoft office programs.

    • Achieved 100% compliance with documentation protocols
    • Processed 250+ customers per month
    • Briefed 35+ managers

Career change resume Example 3: Financial advisor transitioning to outside sales

Before:

Senior Financial Advisor, Hathaway Branch Office, JP Maple Chase 6/2013–2/2015

Assisted clients working towards long-term financial goals by delivering personalized investment solutions. Managed financial portfolio of $2 million in private client assets.

    • Increased assets under management by 30%
    • Converted 15% of assets into fee-based accounts

After:

Senior Financial Advisor, JP Maple Chase 6/2013–2/2015

Sold financial products within the Hathaway territory. Managed $2 million portfolio.

    • Sales: Increased portfolio value by 30% by fostering trust-based relationships
    • Lead conversion: Rated top 5% for converting leads into revenue-generating customers
    • Territory management: Captured and maintained 95% of territory sales accounts through effective sales techniques—cold calls, marketing, surveys, networking, and presentations

You’re in good company if you’re looking to change careers. Use these resume career change tips and tricks to make the transition as smooth as possible, and be sure to check out FlexJobs’ listings to help you find your next career path.

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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com

A version of this post was originally published on June 12, 2015.