Making a career transition can be tricky, but it certainly is not impossible.
Convincing the hiring manager to call you in for an interview can be challenging. To succeed, your resume really needs to shine.
If you want to compete with the people who are already working within the industry or function, your resume needs to convey certain elements to get the hiring manager’s attention–and hold it.
3 things that every career transition resume needs.
1. Your resume can’t be a laundry list. One of the biggest mistakes people make on resumes (career transition, or not) is writing a resume that reads like a job description, or a list of tasks you performed. First, it is boring to read. And if you are submitting it for a transition role, the only thing you will do is confuse the hiring manager.
You need to tell your story.
To do so, you have to show your results and accomplishments. Numbers often speak much louder than words, and are much more eye-catching in a resume. Executive Coach Susan Bernstein offered the following example of how the same line on a resume can be presented in two different ways:
- Performed Extensive litigation research to reduce audit exposure.
- Eliminated $150,000 in audit exposure and avoided 3 to 6 months of litigation by conducting targeted research.
Finding ways to simplify procedures, reduce costs (or increase revenue), or save time are transferable concepts that all hiring managers can appreciate. And most importantly, by quantifying the results, you will show the magnitude of your accomplishments.
2. Remove the Jargon. You probably have a very thorough understanding of your industry: the lingo, terms, abbreviations, mnemonic devices, slang, and so on. Your reader probably doesn’t. Go into your resume right now, and take out industry-specific terms that you can replace with easily understood terminology.
If you have experience with software or services that are used only in your current industry or area, consider using short phrases to define what they are and how they helped you achieve goals. The aim is to not force your reader to have to do a Google search when reading your resume.
3. Use their Jargon! Tastefully. As a counterpoint, you want to show that you understand the industry or function you are targeting, that you understand the challenges, and that if you land the job you would be able to slide right into your new team without them noticing. One of the easiest ways to do this is to try and use the language from the job description. But don’t force it. You are a square peg trying to fit a round hole. Don’t bother screaming “I AM A ROUND PEG!” at the hiring manager. They know better.
Start-ups in particular tend to use modern spins for traditional concepts. For example – does the job description say “interface with the customer support team?” Or the “customer experience team?” Does the company hire Biz Dev roles? Or do they have Relationship Managers? Starting to speak the language of your new industry will help you bridge the cultural career transition that you might need to fit in with the company.
“Get someone neutral from your target industry to review your resume” says Bernstein, “Have them circle anything confusing, weird or unfamiliar to them.” Rather than send off your resume and pray, an extra set of eyes will be able to identify unfamiliar or industry specific verbiage, even if you believe it to be common vernacular.