Career Changers: How to Write a Skills-Based Resume

National Experts in Resume Writing & Career Coaching

Career Changers: How to Write a Skills-Based Resume

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Making a career change is a tough decision for most people, especially if you are already mid-way or more into a career in another field. In some cases, it can feel like having to turn back time, starting at a level alongside interns or entry-level professionals with lower pay than what you already have going for you. But, it is a decision many of us go through to achieve satisfaction and balance in life and work.

This type of situation requires a different kind of resume which is skills-based instead of industry-focused. So when making a change, you need to demonstrate to the employer that you have the transferable experience and skills that will make you successful on the job.

The primary focus of your resume should not be about who you worked for and the types of responsibilities and projects you held. It may not be relevant. You need to hone in on particular experience and skills in a broader sense to show how it can apply to the new career track.

For instance, say a candidate was a successful intellectual property lawyer and now wants to make the transition to public relations. The PR employer could care less about the law practices the candidate worked at or that he was a top-earning partner at the firm. What they will care about are relevant skills he has to offer, such as writing and persuasive and effective communications.

To craft a skills-based resume, work the following tips into your resume:

  • Think about what skills and strengths the employer would desire from a candidate and where you have similar skills and strengths that can be supported by your previous work. To get a better sense of what skills and strengths are important to the employer, review the job posting for information on qualifications sought. Also look at job descriptions for the position from other employers on job boards. You will receive an overall sense of the highlights. Identify the top 5-7 skills that the employer seeks.
  • Top your resume with points on relevant skills. After listing your contact information at the top of your resume, create a heading section called “Summary of Qualifications.” Here you will outline the particular relevant experience and transferable skills you have to offer. This will help you make an immediate positive impression and show you are relevant.
  • You should still use the reverse chronological format. But now you will focus on the transferable skills that you demonstrated as opposed to the industry and functional-specific information.
    For example, if you are moving from managing construction projects to a broader role, then some your key skills would include the ability to manage field-based crews and subcontractors, the ability to meet aggressive deadlines and budges, and the ability to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations.  These skills are relevant to a lot of jobs besides construction.
  • Include other relevant information. If you took courses or volunteered for work that is relevant to your new career, that can also help you make a positive impression. It shows the employer that you have taken initiative to continue to improve yourself for the particular career and have true interest in entering this track. There may also be skills you have, but ones that were not fully used in your previous career that are worth highlighting in your resume now. For instance, are you bilingual in Spanish and English? It is worth noting if the employer’s client base happens to be multi-cultural.

In this market, many people are moving from depressed industries and the skills-based resume allows you to appeal to a much broader market. A skills-based resume is also an effective approach for those with employment gaps or who are just starting to enter the job market.