Recently, I was working with a client who was looking to change careers from a social worker to a business consultant and had pursued an advanced degree from a top university here in Washington DC to help her make that transition.
She had been fortunate to secure three internships from leading consulting firms and was looking to maximize that experience on her resume.
Sounds simple, right? The challenge was that she had a difficult time accepting that the seven years she spent as a social worker needed to be downplayed in order to secure a job in business development.
When you are changing careers, it is all about relevancy and fit. It is wonderful to say that you earned top awards as a chef, but if I am looking to hire an accountant - your wonderful culinary skills are not going to help me.
You always want to present yourself on paper as an "insider" not an "outsider". You can only do that if you use the same keywords, industry language, etc as your target position on your resume.
Which one of these resume statements sounds like a good match for a human resource management position?
Candidate A: Responsible for leading DEA and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) enforcement activities in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
Candidate B: Pioneered complete turnaround in work productivity by instituting 12-month training for more than 1,000 financial management and general administration employees.
Of course, candidate B gets your attention. Guess what? It's the same person - the technique was to highlight the relevant experience that fits.
So quit, quit, quit filling your resume is unrelated, non-relevant experience and information when you are making a career transition.
One of my colleagues, Kim Isaacs - the Monster.com Resume Expert supports this strategy in her "Career Change Resume Tips". According to her...
It’s important to show your transferable skills when making a career change. Conduct research on your desired job target, learning the skills and credentials that employers find desirable..you will find that you possess a number of skills or credentials that translate to your new goal. Your transferable skills will form the cornerstone of your resume, and you will need to downplay unrelated experience.