How to Adapt Your Resume

Switching careers? Be sure to update your resume with your unique, transferable skills. We'll show you how.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person switches jobs once every four years. Many of these people shift to dramatically different work, for various personal and professional reasons.

While the prospect of entering a new line of work is exciting, it’s essential to revise your resume when making the switch. Depending on the industry and position, you might struggle to land an interview if your resume only describes your current duties. Thankfully, you can adapt your resume to feature the skills and experiences that matter most for your new career.

Provide a custom objective statement

Being strategic with your resume and information placement is key. Reserve the top half of your resume to introduce the reason for your transition into to a new space.

Be sure to include these pieces in your objective statement:

  • What you are hoping to do next in your career (you can always adjust this to n to match the job you’re applying for)
  • How you can add value based on your past accomplishments
  • Relevant knowledge you have of the new career you are pursuing

On any resume, it’s critical to showcase the most valuable information first. Per Indeed, employers only look at resumes for 6-7 seconds, focusing on the top of the page. Consider adding your bucket of important experiences, projects, and successes to the beginning of your resume. A functional resume allows you to start with the most significant section, rather than your education or recent job which may not have much to do with your new direction. 

Highlight relevant achievements

The achievements featured on your old resume are probably very relevant to your past career, but could hinder the pivot you hope to make. Be sure that each achievement showcases your potential impact for the new role.

If you are transitioning from a career in software engineering to a general manager’s title, featuring an encryption project won’t move the needle very far. Instead, a bullet point describing how you founded and led the coding club at your university or mentored women at your previous company would demonstrate the skills that a hiring manager would value.

The best work achievements tend to be measuable and action-oriented. Describe a time you demonstrated initiative and delivered results on a task relevant to the career you’re pursuing, and let that win shine.

Showcase your unique skills

Part of a career transition involves research or skill-building to prepare you for the jump. Sometimes, we think formal education or certification is required, but shaping your life experiences and unique skills in a thoughtful way can make you a more compelling candidate to the hiring manager. 

Join professional organizations, or read influential literature related to your new career. Familiarize yourself with industry language, brands, trends, and competitors. For the same reason that having an elite college on your resume indicates a strong work ethic, skill development outside of work shows enthusiasm when planning for a career change.

Provide samples

Employers want to see evidence that you can do great work. This can be tricky if your references can’t speak to your capabilities with respect to your new industry. With your updated resume, be sure to attach work samples that support your capabilities. 

If you were an investor that wanted to take on a career in UX design, you would need to illustrate your ability to create. Rather than describing brokered deals or trade profit, you could design a landing page mockup for your prospective employer. Take the opportunity to exhibit your passion, skill, and technique.

Consider the hiring manager’s viewpoint

Your resume is your own personal brand guide. You’ll need to sell yourself before you even step foot in the door. Take time to understand what the hiring manager is looking for, by determining what problem the role will be solving.

Changing careers involves risk and a bit of courage. Show the hiring manager what they want to see by conveying your enthusiasm and talent for the job you’re applying for, not the career you’re leaving.

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