One Thing You Need to Do to Your Résumé If You Want to Start a Whole New Career

published Apr 8, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

It goes without saying that if you’re about to start a job search, you’ll need to get your résumé in order. But if you’re hoping your next role takes you in a new direction, you should actually present a résumé that’s a bit out of order, according to career experts, and focus on your skills instead of your experience.

If you want to pivot in your career, Scott White, EVP and principal recruiter at HireMinds, says to identify the skills and experiences that apply to what you want to do next and place those first on your résumé. This means digging deep into your résumé’s bullet points to highlight the achievements and responsibilities that will make you shine in your next job — and even downplay those that you’d rather not achieve or have with your next employer.

Early on in your career, it makes sense to present your professional life in chronological order. But as you amass more skills and experiences over the years, those are the elements that should come first on a résumé, regardless of when and where you learned or used them. 

“Your résumé should paint a picture of what you want to be doing in your next job,” White says. “It’s an opportunity for you to focus on the relevant experience needed next.”

Your Skills Might Be More Relevant than You Realize

You might think that the only way your skills “count” is if they’re earned on the job. But that’s not the only way to show your value, says Angela Tait, founder and people operations strategist of Tait Consulting, LLC

“If you don’t have any [relevant work experience], go volunteer for real-world experience, take classes at a local/online university, and see if you can take up special projects at work that relate to the area of interest you are looking to pivot [to],” says Tait.

Don’t worry if your past jobs aren’t directly related to your target industry, either, says Ida Pettersson, career coach and résumé expert at Résumé Genius. “Switching careers doesn’t mean everything you’ve learned so far on your professional journey won’t be applicable in your new job,” she says. “Quite the contrary; many employers will appreciate the unique perspective you can bring to the table.”

For example, some degree of computer and technology skills are required for just about every profession, says Pettersson, along with other core competencies like communication, time management, and collaboration skills.

“I recommend making a list of all your skills, highlighting the ones that will help you succeed in your new role, and emphasizing these when you update your résumé,” Pettersson says. “This will allow you to overcome that experience gap by showcasing your most marketable qualities.” 

If you’re not sure what keywords apply to your skills, head to LinkedIn and check out the job descriptions of roles in your industry. Keywords that appear over and over again do so because they’re the skills needed to do the job successfully. If they apply to your professional experience, add them to your résumé.

Another way to highlight your most relevant skills? Put them right at the top of your résumé. Rather than including an “objective” at the top, lead with a summary or profile section. This tells employers who you are and what you’re like to work with, says Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive leadership coach. 

Gooler Loeb says a well-written summary statement plus a brief list of transferable skills should appear on the top third of your résumé’s first page. A strong cover letter adds to the mix and can “create the kind of intrigue that will get you a call for an interview,” she says. But even better is an introduction to someone within the company through a personal or professional connection; in fact, Gooler Loeb says it could increase your odds fourfold. 

Especially when you’re planning to pivot into a new field, highlighting the unique experience you bring to the table and your most relevant skills (no matter when or where they came from) is a wise way to get a foot in the door.