Career Changer, Here Is the Best Resume Guide for You

You might consider changing your career for several reasons. These include

  • Career satisfaction – you don’t feel happy in your current role.
  • Better opportunities – you want a better salary or other benefits.
  • Shrinking job market – your industry might be shrinking.
  • Different challenges – you don’t feel challenged.
  • Work flexibility – you want a better work-life balance.

But employers are usually quick to throw out resumes that seem to focus on a different field or industry than what they are hiring for.

“This candidate doesn’t have any expertise for this role.”

There are a few ways to stop outright rejections of your resume.

The best way to ensure a smooth career change is to structure your resume and highlight your transferrable skills.

In this article, I break down how to showcase your experience as a career changer on your resume.

As a Career Changer, Focus on Transferrable Skills on Your Resume

As a career changer, you can create a powerful resume by studying the job descriptions and examining the key requirements. Once you have analyzed these requirements, you need to match the verbiage used there with your accomplishments.

In other words, go through the experience line by line and think about a time when you used each skill. Emphasize those actions in your resume. Simply, focus on the jobs that you’d like to do and reverse-engineer the job description using your experience.


If the job description asks for event management experience, and you helped manage a fundraiser, highlight your volunteer experience. Talk about how many people attended and how much funds you were able to raise.

This can be difficult to do so when your previous experiences seem to have no connection to your target job.

However, by extracting keywords from the job you’re interested in, you can always find some transferrable skills.


One of our clients hired us to help her regional management experience. She wanted to present a holistic image of herself as an HR leader. Here is how I was able to highlight her transferrable skills:

Transferable skills of an HR personnel for a career changer

Notice how her role focused quite heavily on revenue generation. I didn’t focus too much on her overall leadership experience. I only focused on work that overlapped with whatever an HR manager would do.

Career changer drawing up on her pervious experience of an HR manager

When competing for a position, it is important to meet the required job qualifications. Fill in as many gaps in your knowledge as you can. Show an understanding of common tools, platforms, and strategies used for a particular field or role. Again, you can find this information by looking up job descriptions.  


If you are targeting a project management (PM) role, then you have to be familiar with certain methodologies and systems.

You will gain a much better understanding by analyzing the job description of such roles.

Such a description can be seen below. The requirements have been highlighted. Consider doing the same for the jobs you like.


Highlight your transferable skills.

Out of the items that you highlighted, which skills do you have?

On the top of your resume, you can add a skills section. This will allow you to show your hard and soft skill knowledge immediately.


In the case of one candidate, he was moving from an operations role to project management. At first glance, he didn’t have any project management experience or familiarity with any related tools or systems.

But after talking to him, I found that he did have some experiences related to project management. For example, he improved operation efficiency and managed backlog and inventory projects. I highlighted his transferrable skills by creating this specialized skills section:

Linking your transferable skills to specialized areas for a smooth career shift.


I had a client who had spent their entire career in fitness. In the last three years, they had been working on a podcast, which focused on healthy living and fitness. But now they wanted to pivot away from fitness and into content or digital marketing.

At first glance, I’m sure you’re thinking, “What kind of overlap can there exist here? These are two totally different directions!” But after analyzing the job listings, I observed a significant overlap in skills. Amongst other things, they were building content, doing A/B tests, and running various campaigns to build their listener base.

A good way to highlight transferable skills for a career changer is to add a bolded subheading to each bullet as shown in this resume extract:

Structuring your resume

Showcasing adaptability to company culture may be vital.


Someone who has only worked for smaller companies may find it difficult to work for a larger one. As such, it is crucial to add accomplishments that talk about your ability to work with vendors and large teams.

Moreover, adding recommendations from previous employers can really add to your first impression. Take a look at the following recommendation. Not only is it impressive, but it also showcases critical skills:

Ask your previous employer for a recommendation.

While we can derive transferrable skills from most roles, it is important to know when to leave out irrelevant information or neglect certain roles. Resumes should highlight how you address employer needs so that they are relevant to hiring managers, especially when you are shifting careers.


Once a client of mine wanted to mention his older, slightly less relevant roles, though he was targeting an IT Director position. I stripped it like so since there were minimal transferrable skills:

But this doesn’t mean that we should immediately discount a seemingly irrelevant experience at its face value. There may be an aspect of the experience that falls under the transferable skills list you put together.

As a rule, if the experience has components that match with your highlighted job description, consider digging deeper into it. Here’s how.

Unfortunately, traditional job search methods will not allow a career changer the same footing as traditional candidates because ATS can rule out any resume that doesn’t have specific job titles. As a result, the key is to highlight transferrable hard and soft skills. You may need to network heavily and take extra steps, such as signing up for certifications.

If you’re stuck and prefer to talk out your experience, schedule a call with me so we can walk you through how to proceed about your resume.

Reprioritizing Your Resume

After you’ve thought about and dug up achievements to talk about in your resume, consider rearranging it so that the most relevant part of your history is at the top.


If a credential you took recently is key to the role you are interested in, make sure you mention that either in the summary section or start your resume with your education section so that it’s the first thing the reader sees.

For example, going back to project management you would be applying against people who have a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. So, starting with your PMP will boost your candidacy.

In the following example, the client’s interest was in a medical administrative role. Even though she had limited experience with medical administration, she took several certifications and courses to prove her knowledge and ability to recruiters. As such I rearranged her resume to bring these qualifications to the top:

Certifications can take you a long way.

Often you may have managed or participated in projects that highlight your transferrable skills. As a career changer, you can add these to your resume to highlight your industry knowledge.


One of our clients was a new graduate who was aiming for business analyst roles. Her professional experience consisted of bartending and service roles. However, her university projects were not only impressive to recruiters, they also highlighted her familiarity with business analysis. As such, I highlighted those accomplishments by bringing them towards the top of her resume.

Highlighting your key strengths in your resume.

In the following, the client’s community planning experience was consolidated and put at the top since they wanted to return to that industry.

Single Resume Targeting Multiple Roles

You might be interested in targeting multiple roles at once as it would broaden your reach and showcase your flexibility.

However, this is not usually recommended as a one-size-fits-all resume can be seen as too generic and doesn’t show any specializations that you most likely have.

Think of it from a recruiter’s perspective. When they look at a generalized resume they would think “What is this? Is it Sales? Product Management? Operations Management? Who knows!” For example, when up against someone who has materials that focus solely on Product Management, your resume may seem less impressive.

As such, targeting a variety of jobs forces you to drop industry-specific words from your resume, which then runs the risk of being tossed out by ATS systems and recruiters due to a lack of keywords that you may even be familiar with!

ATS is designed to work like human beings and make our work easier. Thus, every job seeker needs to search and target exactly what recruiters in their field are looking for.

This is why I tell candidates to opt for two resume versions if they want to focus on two different industries.

One thing to consider is that resumes do need to be a tiny bit generalized to match the needs of various companies. If we become too specific, it would be difficult to apply for more than one position.


For an HR manager’s resume, we can’t talk only about recruiting and setting up HR frameworks (more relevant to startups). We also have to talk about disciplinary actions, unionization, and working with implementation consultants (more relevant to bigger, older organizations). (This is as long as they are interested in both, of course.)

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If you’re looking to change your career, please feel to check out some free resume tips here.

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