How to Write a Resume for a Career Change

If you’re  thinking about a career change, consider using the resume format that highlights the skills and knowledge you’ll be using in your NEW career. That’s the combination resume format.

Here’s the answer to a resume question from a career-changer, in which Yana Parker shows how to create a combination resume.

<< Index of All Resume Questions and Answers

I Need a Career Change

Dear Ms. Parker,
I am really frustrated with my current position. I’ve been employed as an administrative assistant for many years. I feel the ceiling closing in on me and there truly is not a position here that I care to advance to. The only jobs available are “glorified secretarial jobs” with catchy titles like administrative analyst, executive administrator, etc. I’m ready for a “sky’s-the-limit” career change — where I can use and develop my full potential.

I’d like to get a position as a customer service representative in mortgage banking, and move up the ranks to become a loan officer. I KNOW that I’m qualified to do the job. But how do I model my resume to reflect that I have the skills and abilities to do that job?

Thank you for your help!
Sondra

Writing a Resume for a Career Change

Dear Sondra,
Your situation is the perfect example for WHEN to use a combination resume format, to show that you CAN do something you haven’t yet been paid to do.

When you use a combination resume you can present your skills, abilities, and accomplishments in a way that documents your qualifications for entering a new field. You are able to put the spotlight exclusively on experience RELEVANT to your chosen new career, playing down (w-a-a-y down) the experience that pictures you in your old/current role. (That’s harder to do in a straight chronological format — although it’s not impossible.) Here’s how to create a combination resume for your career change.

1. Name your goal, which you’ve already done: an entry-level position as customer service rep in mortgage banking. It’s GREAT that you’re so clear about your target.

2. Find out what a customer service rep DOES on the job, in as much detail as possible, including the skills needed, the special knowledge needed, and everything you can discover that will assure you that this is a good choice.

A good way to do this is to find a person already in that position and “interview” them, asking all your questions and getting the “inside dope” on this position. This process is often called “informational interviewing.” It’s nothing like JOB interviewing — this is INFORMATION gathering.

3. Assemble your resume in a combination format (illustrated below) — according to the information you now have about what Customer Service / Mortgage Banking people do.

TIP: You will be assembling a resume that creates an image of customer service / mortgage banking and does NOT look like administrative assisting! You do this by extracting ONLY those experiences that fit the NEW picture, and write about them in a way that shows how they are relevant. You IGNORE (make no mention of) any experiences that create ANY OTHER image — in this case, anything exclusively secretary-like.

4. Top the resume off with a terrific SUMMARY or PROFILE, after adding your Education, beneath the Experience section.

Sample Combination Resume Template for a Career Change

Your NEW resume might look something like this:

SONDRA BLUMENTHAL (not her real name)
1234 Maple Ave.
Yorktown CA 98765
[email protected]
(123) 555-7890

CURRENT OBJECTIVE: position as customer service representative in mortgage banking.
Longer-term goal: position as loan officer

SUMMARY: (I’m just making this up! Create your own.)

  • Five years successful experience providing customer-service type help in business settings.
  • BA degree, with coursework in Accounting.
  • Natural talent for working with figures, plus strong motivation to build a new career in mortgage banking.
  • Currently enrolled in night school class in Real Estate Basics.
  • (Whatever else seems pertinent, given what you learned in the Info Interview)

EXPERIENCE

1996-present, Administrative Assistant, Hornblower & Company, Los Angeles, CA

Skill One (something you learned in the info interview that’s a needed skill)

  • A one-liner showing you’ve done something on the job to demonstrate this skill.
  • Another of the same
  • Another of the same

Skill Two (something else you learned in the info interview that’s a needed skill)

  • A one-liner showing you’ve done something on the job to demonstrate this skill.
  • Another of the same
  • Another of the same

1993-95 Executive Secretary, Breuner and Weiss Attorneys, Los Angeles, CA

Skill One (something you learned in the info interview that’s a needed skill)

  • A one-liner showing you’ve done something on the job to demonstrate this skill.
  • Another of the same
  • Another of the same

Skill Two (something else you learned in the info interview that’s a needed skill)

  • A one-liner showing you’ve done something on the job to demonstrate this skill.
  • Another of the same
  • Another of the same

EDUCATION
B.A., English, UCLA, graduated with honors (don’t mention the year unless its recent)

A Resume That’s About Your Future

The main point is that your career-change resume has to be ABOUT YOUR FUTURE GOAL, and it has to LOOK LIKE your future goal! You accomplish this bit of magic by being very SELECTIVE about what you put on your resume. Base that selection on your knowledge of the functions of the NEW career.

In that way, you are showing your potential new employer that — despite your past job titles — you ARE knowledgeable about the job you now want AND you are a good candidate for an entry-level position in that field. Having done your homework goes a LONG WAY toward making you an appealing candidate. (Employers are really PUT OFF by job-hunters who not only don’t have a clue but don’t even TRY to GET a clue.)

Remember that your resume, however great it may be, is only ONE TOOL in the job-hunt process. Another crucial tool is your CONNECTIONS. Try very hard to find somebody  in the business who can aim you toward a specific person to submit your resume to, by name. Don’t wait for a vacancy to be announced. Just take the initiative and apply NOW. (Right now there might be no competition and you may “hit them” just before they are planning to announce a vacancy!)

Let me know how it goes.
Yana

More Resume Questions and Answers

Want to see how Yana Parker advised job seekers and professional resume writers on other resume problems? Check out our index page for Resume Questions and Answers.

Topics include:

  • Resume Formatting: Where to Put Things on Your Resume
  • How to Write “This and That” on a Resume
  • How to Solve Resume Problems
  • How to Solve Tricky Resume Work History Problems
  • How to Write a Resume for Career Change
  • Filing Out a Job Application Form
  • A Little Job Interviewing Advice