Modern Resume Writing Strategies for Career Changers

When transitioning from one career to another, it is necessary to update your current resume. A fresh, revamped, modern resume is the key to landing that coveted interview and a new job offer.

It may not be easy to create a resume when you are changing to a completely different industry. Consider these current resume writing strategies when you are overhauling your current resume to better suit your new career choice. You may not realize it, but many of the skills and experiences you have gained throughout your work history can be successfully transferred to your new position.

Key Transferable Skills: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

There are many skills from your current work experience that will be transferable to your new career path. Take into consideration both soft and hard skills. Soft skills encompass more personal attributes and are less tangible than hard skills that are more likely acquired through teachable moments and can be defined and measured.

Hard Skills

Aim to utilize tangible or hard skills throughout your resume to show role-specific attributes that can be backed-up with examples. As well, these are most likely the skills that Applicant Tracking Systems will pick up on. Look closely at the job posting for specific abilities the company is looking for and match them to your acquired skills.

For example, if you are transitioning from a lawyer to a teacher, you will want to include hard skills such as:

  • problem-solving,
  • presentation abilities, and
  • conflict resolution

Showcase these skills under your job experiences to demonstrate how you’ve used them in the past.

Soft Skills

Intangible or soft skills are valuable in any job and are almost universally transferable. Focus on the related attributes that are most desired in the industry and are mentioned in the job posting.

Examples include:

  • time management,
  • communication,
  • problem-solving,
  • team-player,
  • interpersonal skills, and
  • adaptability

When using these terms, consider connecting them to some tangible examples from your work history.

Using the above transferable skills, tell the hiring manager a story and explain how these traits and qualifications from your previous roles directly correlate to your current opportunity. Provide specific examples of how you demonstrated these transferable skills in your resume, cover letter, and interview.

Research Position and Company

If you have decided to switch career paths and journey into a new job, you have most likely come to understand a bit about the new job expectations. It’s still an essential step in creating your resume and preparing for a career change. You will need to research the industry, company, and background of the position you are applying for.

Start by getting to know the new industry a little deeper. By reading various job descriptions, job postings, and company websites, you can learn what skills and attributes employers are looking for.

Take the time to delve into the qualities expected of the candidate and how the company wishes to flourish in the future. Scrutinize these findings and correlate them to your personal attributes to create concrete examples that show future employers what you bring to the table.

Work Experience

Typically, you do not include all your previous work history on your resume. When reinventing your resume, consider including older experiences if you are transitioning back into a career you left many years ago. For example, if you worked in sales for many years, then began a new career path in accounting, and would now like to transition back into sales, you will need to include your older experiences related to sales. Therefore, your work history section will be more of a ‘relevant work history’ section than a ‘recent work history section.

As a career changer, it is necessary to get all the credit you can in the experience department. So, without going all the way back to high school positions, include as much relevant work experience as possible. It will link your current skill set to the new job opportunity and show you have a background in the field.

Extra Resume Sections

The career changer resume template should include the main sections:

  • professional profile
  • education
  • work experience

These main sections should showcase your transferable skills. However, do not be afraid to add extra sections such as volunteer work and non-professional experience.

The key is to ensure everything you have on your resume is relevant and not just filler. Remember that the real estate on your resume is precious. Only include things that are important and related to the position you are pursuing.

Volunteer Experience

If you are looking to start a new career as a teacher, your volunteer work organizing bake sales for the Parent-Teacher Association or being the President of the Condo Board could be experiences supporting leadership, organizational, and teamwork qualities.

Professional Development

Any courses or seminars you have taken in preparation for a career change or that are relevant to the new position should be included in a modern career-changer resume. Show future employers you are serious about this switch and have taken steps to gain prudent expertise in the new job industry. Include college courses or presentations you have attended under this heading.

As a career changer, you may not have the necessary work experience in the industry you are pursuing. By mentioning the courses you have taken, you will show potential employers that you have been preparing for the position and will add value to your new employer.


Certifications are vital to include in your resume if they are related to the desired position or are directly required, as outlined in the job posting. Consider putting your certifications at the beginning of your resume with your education, so recruiters see them first. They are picked out easily through the applicant tracking system (ATS) programs.

Modern Resume Writing Strategies Include Using a Professional Summary

A resume objective is no longer the norm; it’s considered old school. Applicants now lean toward a professional summary or profile summary at the beginning of the resume. Connect the dots for future employers to let them know what hard and soft skills you have gained through your experiences and how you will further develop these skills in the new position. Make it clear to the reader that your attributes and abilities have prepared you to make a transition into the new field.

Your professional summary’s opening line should include a catchy phrase that captures what value you will bring to the organization or company. Use 1-3 keywords that describe what you do and directly relate them to the position at hand. If you like, you can review resume profiles for sales management professionals.

Look at the resume profile examples below for some inspiration:

Self-Employed Business Owner transitioning into Sales Management

Innovative and motivated professional with a proven record of building lasting business relationships, managing large projects, and mentoring individuals to success. Highly skilled in building cross-functional teams, demonstrating superb communication and interpersonal skills, and executing critical decisions during challenging times. An adaptable and dynamic leader focuses on developing strategic opportunities that further establish organizational goals and emphasize the business mission statement.

Preschool Teacher transitioning into University Foreign Language Professor.

Highly dedicated educational professional with over 15 years of hands-on teaching experience. Native French speaker with extensive background knowledge of French customs and traditions. Demonstrated talent for creating exciting and engaging lesson plans utilizing innovative teaching techniques, learning materials, and technology. Strong ability to support individual learners and create an educational environment that is supportive and full of positive reinforcement. Results-oriented instructor who remains flexible, collaborative, and student-focused to create a memorable academic experience.

Areas of Expertise or Knowledge Section

The most effective career-changer resume must prove that you have the skills to do the job without having the title. An excellent area to showcase some hard skills you will bring to the company or institution is the “Areas of Expertise” or “Core Competencies” section near the beginning of your resume.

This resume section is a simple bullet-point listing of 10-12 hard skills you have demonstrated in your previous work history. This is a great spot to highlight to the hiring manager some key attributes and competencies they seek in a potential new employee.

Always closely examine the job posting to see what skills the company is specifically looking for, connect them to the skills you have obtained, and highlight them in their own section. Including keywords and catchphrases in your resume is vital to generate an interview. You can further draw the reader’s eye to this section by making it a different color if you use color on your career change resume. A clean, classic color will emphasize these skills even though you lack work experience.

Career Changers Need to Include Industry Keywords

Keep your modern resume focused by communicating how your skills and experience will add value to the new position. Include industry-specific keywords throughout the resume profile and the body of the resume. Do a simple Google search to find some potential buzzwords related to your work experiences.

Below are keywords by industry to consider:

Oilfield: drilling, oil and gas, operations, production, engineering, fabrication, resource allocation, quality control management, safety and regulation compliance, preventative management. Find other sample keywords relevant to oil and gas jobs here.

K-12 Teaching: peer teaching, individualized instruction, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, creative lesson plans, technology integration, classroom management.

Sales and Management: account management, competitive analysis, contract negotiation, consultative selling, cross-selling, business development, client retention, and marketing campaigns.

Information Technology: network configuration, troubleshooting, problem resolution, database administration, project management, technical infrastructure, client retention.

Resume Formatting

There are two resume formats to consider when revamping your current resume to better suit a career change.

Functional Resume for Career Changers

This type of resume focuses on your skills and applicable experience rather than chronological work history. This format highlights specific skills and capabilities to emphasize your abilities and apply them to the new position. When writing a functional resume, you organize it based on particular skills or qualifications. The group of top skills is the headings you would include in your resume and examples of the skills underneath the headings.

For example, a heading could be “Recruiting Experience” or “Deliver high-quality curriculum instruction.” Utilize keywords from the job posting here; they may become your headings. A functional resume will include your professional summary, areas of expertise, work experience, and education.

Combination Resume for Career Changers

This style of resume combines a functional resume and a chronological resume. A combination resume utilizes work experience and relevant skills to show the hiring manager your capabilities. This resume format makes it easy to identify required skills while maintaining that the applicant has a previous work history, although it may not be in that industry.

This type of resume can showcase your transferable skills and emphasize longstanding employment history within the professional experience section when you outline a specific job and highlight your accomplishments under the description of your duties.

When you have nailed down which resume style to use, think about adding color, an icon, or a border to add that WOW factor. Consider utilizing bold text and no more than three font sizes. A modern font style is an effective way to catch the recruiter’s eye. The main thing to remember is to leave a lasting impression with your skills and experience and not muddle the resume with unnecessary formatting.

Accomplishments: Measurable Achievements, C.A.R.

When listing your career accomplishments under work experience or a skill heading, make sure you quantify your actions’ results as much as possible. Measurable career achievements – numbers – stand out against a page full of words.

When determining your work accomplishments, relate them to the current position you are applying for and use the acronym C.A.R, which stands for Challenge, Action, Result.

Another method is to use the S.T.A.R. approach. Answer these questions to create the achievement statement. What was the situation, the task, the action, and the results? 

This is a fabulous way to provide evidence, focus on your capabilities, and show the hiring manager that your skills and attributes have proven value.

Career Changers Need to Tailor or Focus the Resume

Do not send out a one-size-fits-all resume to every job you apply for. Yes, the posts may have the same title, but they are not for the same company. Tailor each resume to the specific role for which you are applying. Through customization, you highlight the skills and experience most relevant to the position you seek. Use keywords from each job posting and change the wording as you go. This is especially true when sending a cover letter as well.

No “References Upon Request”

Adding the “References Upon Request” line at the end of your resume is old-fashioned. Companies expect you to have a reference sheet available when they request it. Add your references on a separate page with the same heading as the resume and cover letter. Have the list of references handy when you get to the job interview. If asked in the interview, it’s the perfect time to leave it with the hiring committee to check your fit for the company.

The perfect modern career changer resume should focus on your strengths and abilities to perform the job you seek despite not being perfectly qualified. By creating a compelling resume and cover letter, you will land an interview in no time. As the saying goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Send out your resume and see what job opportunities appear!