Recently, I coached an experienced healthcare executive who wanted to switch industries. She had substantive experience in business development, research and project management, but had been sending out her résumé with little response.
This is a common problem of career changers: Your résumé points employers in the wrong direction—to your past. It represents a field that you no longer want, so don't get called in for the jobs you do.
However, with these easy adjustments, your résumé can help—rather than hinder—your career change.
1. Highlight qualifications that cut across industries and roles
When you describe your roles, take out any industry-specific jargon. You want your prospective employers in other industries to be able to see you working for them. The healthcare executive that I was working with needed to focus on general research skills, rather than make specific references to clinical research or medical research. What skills do you have that cut across industries—sales, project management, people management, marketing, analysis, financial acumen?
2. Demonstrate relevancy
Employers will be reluctant to hire someone whom they have to teach about the industry or the job. So you need to show that you have already have demonstrated some movement in that direction. Professional work experience is an obvious choice to demonstrate expertise...but then you would no longer be a career changer. Courses or certifications, professional associations and conferences, and volunteer work are more realistic ways that you can get hands-on experience with an industry, and this activity gives you something to put on your résumé . What can you use to prove that you've done something related to your new career area?
3. Reference emerging trends
In growth areas, demand for talented candidates exceeds supply, so employers in those fields are more open to considering outsiders. This healthcare executive had led business development for data-intensive projects, which relates nicely to the red-hot area of Big Data. By referring to her sales focus with phrases like Big Data or market analytics, she emphasizes an expertise for which multiple industries are competing, not just healthcare. What hot skills can you highlight—digital marketing, social media, customer engagement, Big Data?
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic. This column will appear weekly.
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