Resume Tips Career Change

Resume Tips For A Career Change


Looking for work can be difficult in the best of times – and these are not the best of times. There are resume tips everywhere and experts offer astoundingly different opinions. How is a job seeker to know what advice to follow? The bottom line: no one way is the right way for everyone.

For the job seeker, it is best to read as much as you can about how to write a resume and how to job search. Sort through the information and think about it in terms of your particular situation. Some things to consider include your strengths and weaknesses as a job candidate. Think about your:

  • Work history
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Type of employment you are seeking
  • Competition
  • Age

Your resume should emphasize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. A job seeker should ALWAYS seek a second opinion (or a third, or fourth). If possible, seek out the assistance of an expert – this is money well spent and a good resume writer can be invaluable in helping you to stand out to employers who might not otherwise consider you.

Whether or not you seek the advice of a professional, here are some key areas to consider. It is important you give these resume sections the deliberation they need to present your qualifications in the best possible light.

Objective Vs. Profile

There is a lot of debate about which is the correct approach. Some experts tout the Objective as the way to go to be considered seriously by an employer as it commits you to a specific path that is (hopefully) in line with what they are looking for. Others recommend a strong Profile or Summary Statement outlining the best of what you have to offer and, essentially spoon-feeding the employer every good thing about you.

However, neither is going to be right or wrong in every case. The trick is to examine YOUR qualifications and how to present them to an employer in a way that will make you seem a good candidate for the opening the employer has. A job seeker may use an objective to apply for one job and a profile in another instance. There is no black and white in resume writing.

Functional Vs. Chronological

The chronological resume is the traditional format that most are accustomed to: Work History is detailed in order of date, usually most recent first, with duties outlined either in bullet or paragraph format beneath.

A functional resume is more modern in approach and emphasizes skills over work history. The Skills or Qualifications sections are often split into several subsections. This can make it easier for employers to scan your qualifications to quickly see if you might have the skills they are looking for.

Reported estimates are employers take 30 or even as little as 10 seconds to screen resumes. For this reason, a functional resume is most often the format to use to apply online or secure the first interview. A more detailed, chronological resume can be presented in a first or second interview if appropriate.


Subheadings with meaningful titles should be used to allow the employer to quickly scan a resume to see that you may have what they are looking for. Use no more than three or four, otherwise the purpose may be defeated.

Group your skills from all of your jobs, past and present, under these subheadings. Use current voice – just because you are not working at a job currently doesn’t mean you don’t possess this skill! Likewise, include skills from unpaid positions as well as paid.

Work History

Again, include paid and unpaid positions – give yourself credit for everything you know and can do. If you don’t, no one else ill.  If you don’t have a skill or experience required for a position you would like to pursue then volunteer or intern to acquire the missing attribute.

Be forward thinking about your resume and your career. Most people don’t work for the same employer for 30 years and retire with a gold watch these days. Plan now for your next job change if you are working. If you are looking for any job in the storm now, be mindful to plan beyond that next job.


Depending on your age and background, you may choose not to include an Education section or to omit years if you are a mature worker. Or you may choose to list certificates and other training pertinent to the job you are applying for. Employers may assume you have a college degree based on your background unless you list High School Diploma in this section, for example.

If you have studied a topic or area of interest through the Internet, or books and articles read then find a way to include them in this section. Be creative in terms of your presentation and in getting credit for what you do know or can do.


Only give references when asked. This way you can give references:

  • Who will be helpful to making you look good for the particular job you are applying for.
  • A call to prepare them to look for an unknown number
  • Some pointers on what kinds of attributes you have that they can emphasize.

There are, of course, so many other things to consider when writing a resume, for example:

  • White space
  • Font
  • Balance and centering

But, thinking about the sections included above should get you started in the write direction. Just remember any resume is a work in progress and should be examined and tweaked regularly in general and in considering specific jobs or employers in particular. In short, a resume is always a work in progress. Good luck!

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Mary Sherwood Sevinsky

Mary is a CAREER AND OCCUPATIONAL CONSULTANT who is masters-prepared and certified. She is a sole-proprietor with nearly 20 years of experience in Management, Career Assessment & Counseling and in writing Career Articles and Educational Materials.

She has worked as a CORPORATE MANAGER experienced in hiring, firing and managing a staff of professionals with a multimillion dollar budget. She enjoys WRITING AND EDITING and has spent many years developing Marketing Materials and Presentations, Writing Proposals and Plans, and Conducting Staff Development Sessions in addition to working as a vocational consultant.  Learn more about her and her services:


  1. Thank you for another great article!
    There is one information in your post that confuses me a little and that is your suggestion to include all of our skills from all of our past and present jobs; what if not all skills are relevant to the job position one is applying for, should there be included regardless?!

    • Marilena,

      That’s a great question. If there are skills you know will be valuable for the job you’re applying to, definitely include them. You have nothing to lose by including the others, especially if you put them at the bottom of your list. If you’d like to separate them by saying, “Other Skills” or something similar, that could also help. You never know when some of those skills could come in handy, whether it’s through helping someone with something outside of your duties or even doing a task that didn’t show up in your job description, but is still your responsibility.

  2. “But, thinking about the sections included above should get you started in the write direction.”

    It is also important to proof read your resume to ensure there are no mistakes, write? ;)

  3. If you have a college degree, find out whether your alma mater has e-mail addresses for alumni. If the college has a lot of alumni in your geographical target market, it can garner attention.

    There is a stigma against functional resumes trying to hide a long period out of the workforce. If using a functional format, put work history up front to be straightforward about whatever your dates of employment are.

    Functional formats can be very good for several similar jobs. I had a client who had 7 or 8 positions in restaurants–as a waitress, bartender, and shift supervisor. Many of the bullets were redundant, and a functional format shortened the length and organized the skills very well. Restaurant managers complimented her on it.

    • as a hiring manager, i have probably looked at 10,000 resumes in my career. i don’t pay much attention or functional vs chronological format, but i always look at the Professional Profile/Summary (Career Summary). if that looks interesting then i look at the last couple jobs and their top functional skills. so best of both worlds is to have a professional summary section, then functional-format , followed by a listing of your job titles/employers with dates afterwards and education at the end. that way guys like me can quickly get a bead on the candidate. A new grad with limited experience should do it this way: Professional Summary, education, chronological listing of work history. as a new grad you are selling your “raw potential”.

  4. Great post.

    I had a question. I have an engineering background. However, I am more interested in creative work. Should I include it in my resume? Will employers think that I might not stick around or that I am not good enough for creative role due to my technical background?


  5. I would suggest to add some unusual stuff to your resume as well. These days with sooo many people going for the same spots, make sure to stand out somehow.

    My go to move is to add my volunteer experience at a animal shelter. Plus, who knows, you may be getting interviewed by a dog lover!

  6. I disagree about using the Current Voice (present tense) for skills since the skills should be combined with an accomplishment and a metric to explain how you used each skill. (And most of these metrics are in the past.)

    it is the “right” direction not… “get you started in the write direction” TJ your information is great but please proofread your contributors since there is rarely a posting without a typo or grammatical mistake.

  7. I disagree about using the Current Voice (present tense) for skills since the skills should be combined with an accomplishment and a metric to explain how you used each skill. (And most of these metrics are in the past.)

    it is the “right” direction not… “get you started in the write direction” TJ your information is great but please proofread your contributors since there is rarely a posting without a typo or grammatical mistake.

  8. The advice given here that there is no one best or right way to put together a resume is absolutely correct. The purpose of the resume is to get you to interview stage, so if that's not happening it's usually one of two things – either you are genuinely not qualified for the position, or you more probably don't have a good resume. My suggestion is – become a student of the art of resume writing – it's a very important life skill, as is the ability to implement an effective job search strategy.


  9. With so many different styles of resumes bouncing around it is great to see a post with some good practical tips. Lost count of how many bad ones I've seen, usually with irrelevant info padding them out.


  10. A friend just asked me to help him review his resume. Now I am no resume expert by far but I was brutally honest. I pointed out the flaws and suggested that he research resume books for style and format. I had also copied this article for his review. If there were laws as to how to format a resume he would be serving life w/o parole!

    Thank you for this article. I may serve as a reminder for some and a guide to others.

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