I'm Changing Careers -- How Do I Format My Resume?
by Ann Baehr
The best resume format to use is the combination resume. This resume format is not chronological nor functional. It combines both! It is extremely flexible and allows you to use strategies in a way that would normally be considered wrong.
The difference between the combination format and the chronological format is that the chronological format resume is very easy to follow. The hiring manager will typically start to read the chronological resume at the bottom of the work history or professional experience section (heading depends on your career level) and will continue reading his or her way up towards the top to trace your career history. If there are employment gaps, it will be obvious because it is difficult to hide breaks in employment using this resume format. This is why most hiring mangers prefer the chronological resume format. It is easy to read and leaves little to the imagination. This can be a great advantage (marketing tool) if you have been in the same type of position because it shows continuity and progression in your industry.
But what happens when you've held different types of positions across several industries? Reasons for gaps in employment and holding too many or unrelated jobs include raising children, caring for a family member, illness, returning to college, corporate downsizing or merger, joining the military, and difficulty finding work for long stretches of time because of a tight job market or weak resume! So, the first thing you will need to do is toss your old resume. It will not help you to change your career. You need to make a fresh start!
Create a resume that clearly indicates at the top what type of position you are seeking.
Include a career summary section that highlights where you've been in your career. being careful to only mention what would be of most interest to this particular company. Emphasize your transferable experience and skills that match the qualifications of the position (if there is a job ad, study it and do your best to make a connection between the position's requirements and what you've done. Do not use the exact wording!).
Use a keywords section to list transferable skills so the reader can find them immediately. This is also important if the company uses resume scanning technology. This will ensure your resume is retrieved from the company's database in response to a keyword search.
Under your Professional Experience section or Work History (again, depends on your background), present your experience in functional sections such as General Management, Sales Management, Staff Training and Supervision, Budget Planning and Tracking , etc.
Take ALL of the experience you've gained over the years and categorize it into skill areas that the new position requires. If the company is seeking someone to manage budgets, and you managed budgets ten years ago and four years ago, but not in your last two jobs, then list the collective experience under a Budget category.
Continue this formula until each respective category has a minimum of four bulleted sentences or two two-lined sentences to support the name of the heading. It is a good idea to have at least three categories to show how well rounded you are.
Below this section, list the companies, locations, job titles, and dates. You can either create a separate section named Work History if you've already called the above section Professional Experience, or simply list the section without a main heading as part of the main section. It will be understood. Or, you can start the section off with the company names and dates followed by the functional categories. In other words, flip it.
The most common problem with this resume format is identifying where your experience was gained. But, that's the whole idea. If they are interested in what you can do, they will call you in for the interview. It is at that time you can explain the how, when, where, and why of it all. It will make for great conversation--which by the way, a job interview should be. A meeting between two people with a common interest (the position) who engage in conversation in a professional manner.
About The Author:
Ann Baehr is a CPRW and President of Best Resumes of New York. Notable credentials include her former role as Second Vice President of NRWA and contribution to 25+ resume and cover letter sample books. Visit http://www.bestresumesofnewyork.com for more information.