Resumé Face Lift

Tailor your experience when pursuing a major career change

As an attorney looking for work, Mary Lee Davis was actually changing gears. Her professional background was in social work. Davis used the skills she acquired in that area, such as her expertise in counseling, to fine-tune her resumé for a competitive law environment. “I tried to [position] what I did as a social worker to show how it would enhance my value as an attorney,” Davis recounts.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average worker will change careers an average of five times in his or her lifetime. But after years of professional experience in one area, how do you package your skills to impress an employer in another industry? Your resumé is an extension and reflection of you and should illustrate everything you can offer an employer. So how do you rework your resumé to highlight your qualifications?

1 Prepare for change.
“[People] have to ask themselves what sort of preparation are they doing for [the job they want,]” says Meldron Young, a practice consultant for the American Management Association, an employee training organization. “Let’s face the facts -employers don’t really care what you want to do. They want to know if you have the skill set to do what they need you to do.”

4 Include nonpaying experience.
Volunteer work, unpaid internships, and involvement in professional organizations -particularly those connected to your intended field -all count as valuable experience. When she was in law school, Mary Davis was a member of the law review board and helped produce law review journals.

2 Stay skill focused.
Often, professionals marry themselves to job titles instead of focusing on the skills they’ve acquired doing those jobs. Titles can limit you, but there are many skills that are easily transferable across industries. Outline the skills you’ve used to manage successful projects, develop successful campaigns, or streamline a budget.

3 Research your desired field.
People in hiring positions can detect when an applicant is not fully committed to a career transition, but rather looking to escape a problem at his or her current job. Employers want to see connectivity in a resumé. Debra Lea Thorsen, a personal and professional coach, suggests identifying your natural talents and abilities and seeking out jobs that fit them.

5 Get help.
Career counselors can help you identify your strengths and interests. They can tell you which skills you should highlight on your resumé and point out which jobs match your skills. Helpful Websites include www.fiveoclock club.com, www.careermakers.com, and www .careerplanner.com.

6 Be honest.
Career coaching experts emphasize the importance of presenting accurate information. Do not stretch the truth and be realistic about your goals. “If you don’t have [a particular skill or experience,] don’t put down that you do,” says Young. “You don’t want people to question your integrity.”

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