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Common Questions and Answers
One of the toughest career challenges is changing occupations or industries, especially if you have spent decades in your profession. If you are in the midst of a career change you’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to gain interviews. After months of submitting your resume you are no further along than when you first began. If this is true for you, it’s time to make some major changes in your resume so that potential employers will see you as a strong, viable candidate.
Before you can sell yourself as a great candidate you must understand the current challenges of the industry or occupation. This will take research both online and one on one from insider information. If you are attempting to change industries look online to find current industry news and information that will inform you of the changes and challenges of the industry. A few things you should learn are:
Where is the industry in it’s life cycle?
Who are the major players nationally and locally?
What are the threats to the industry?
What do technological advances mean for future products or services?
If you are seeking to change occupations within your own industry you will need to know the given challenges of your position of choice. The best way to find out is to talk with others occupying the same position. Informational interviews are a great way to find out the inside scoop. Don’t be shy to ask others for information that could help you better understand the problems you will encounter on the job. Network contacts are the best source for informational interviews. Get used to asking your network contacts “who do you know that might be able to tell me about … .” You’ll be surprised at the help you receive when you ask for it.
Once you understand the challenges of your career goal, identify the transferable skills needed for the job. A thorough research of job postings will help you build your list of skills. Spend time going through a long list of similar job postings. Since you are still conducting research at this point don’t worry about finding only local positions. Pretend that you have the ability to relocate anywhere and open your search for job postings nationwide.
Once you’ve compiled and read 20 or 30 similar job postings identify the top five to seven skills that are needed to perform the job. You should find the verbiage you need right from the job postings. These skills will become the selling points of your resume. They will help you transfer your expertise from one type of work to another or from one industry to another.
The most commonly used resume format is the reverse chronological which starts with your most recent work history and works backwards. This format works fine if you are continuing on in your profession within the same industry, but it often does more harm than good for those in career transition. It tends to pigeon-hole a job seeker within his current role and industry.
A better resume format for career changers is the hybrid. As the name suggests, it is a hybrid between the reverse chronological and functional resume formats. It allows you to maintain the continuity of the chronological while utilizing the skills focus of the functional resume format.
Once you have your list of transferable skills you are ready to use them to create a Highlight of Accomplishments section at the top of page one of your resume. Your Highlight of Accomplishments is at the heart of the hybrid resume format. It allows you to present all your best accomplishments that represent your transferable skills and set them in the most influential space on your resume where first impressions are formed.
Your resume is your foremost marketing tool for selling yourself to potential employers. By demonstrating your ability to meet their challenges through your accomplishments that illustrate your transferable skills you’ll catch their attention quicker and more often. It’s up to you to help them understand why you are a perfect fit. Use these three tips to create a better resume and you’ll reach your new career goal quicker and with less frustration.
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