This is part two of a two-part blog post. Click here to read part one:
Tip 6: Showcase Your Achievements
The key to successful resume writing is to populate your resume with success stories about your achievements. These stories should be short statements describing real-life situations that demonstrate the skills and competencies you have to offer to a prospective employer.
It can be helpful to brainstorm achievements and map out the details using the PAR approach, where you identify a Problem, Action, and Result:
- Problem: What was the problem or challenge that you faced?
- Action: What were the actions you took to solve the problem?
- Result: What was the result of your efforts?
You can condense the information into a shorter accomplishment statement for the resume later. NOTE: Each success story on your resume should ultimately be no longer than 1 to 2 sentences.
Remember to quantify your achievements with numbers and metrics, and when that’s not possible, try using “before” and “after” examples to demonstrate improvement.
Tip 7: Include All Relevant Career and Life Experience
When writing a resume for a career reinvention, it is important to take inventory of everything in your life—not just your professional experience. Include all experience that demonstrates the skills that you want to showcase to a prospective employer. Do not discount previous and early career experience, community service, training, or volunteer roles.
This so-called non-traditional experience can be captured on your resume in a variety of ways. You may be able to work it into your branded summary statement, or you could choose to expand the “Education” section of your resume to “Education and Professional Development” or “Highlights of Education and Professional Development.”
Tip 8: Place Information Strategically (Location, Location, Location!)
Remember that many of the hiring managers and individuals you are trying to influence will be reading your resume on their smart phones or tablets, perhaps even while multitasking (during a meeting or on the way to their car). They may only allocate 15 seconds for your resume, and they may never get more than a third of the way through it! Short snippets of information placed strategically have the best shot of grabbing a potential new employer’s attention.
Knowing this, you have to make the top third to one half of the first page stand out. You also need to keep the full resume to two pages maximum and be sure that it is clean looking and attractive with streamlined, readable fonts and lots of white space.
Tip 9: Things to Avoid
You may have noticed that the earlier tips are all essentially pieces of advice—they are the “Dos.” Now it’s time to go over some of the “Don’ts,” which are just as important.
Early Career Experience
Conveying your skills is important when writing your reinvention resume, but your resume shouldn’t become a dumping ground for every accomplishment in your career. To write an effective resume, you need to identify information that is not relevant to your new career goal and leave it out or move it to a less prominent section of the resume.
Demonstrating that you have transferable skills is essential to a career change, but I don’t believe that it is helpful to actually use the word “transferable” (or “transitional” and other similar words). These descriptors signify that you are an outsider to the field, which is exactly the opposite of the perception you want to achieve.
I also advise my clients to avoid commonplace resume words, ones that you are likely to find on many resumes. These generic descriptors do nothing to show what differentiates you and why you are unique. Here are some of the worst offenders in this set of killer words and phrases: “Team player,” “Results-oriented,” and—my favorite—”Excellent communication skills.”
Tip 10: A Work in Progress
A career change resume is not a one-shot deal. Unlike a regular resume for lateral career moves, which you can write once and then update only when you are ready to change jobs, a career change resume is a living document.
You will continue to tweak it and re-weight your experience as your career change journey unfolds. This could mean that you update it as often as every few months. You may have to move sections around and reframe your growing portfolio of experience, skills, and education in your target field or industry.
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