Most of us will go through at least one career change. Often, it’s a choice prompted by the need for bigger challenges or the discovery of a new dream. Yet sometimes, we change careers for practical reasons. We respond to industry changes resulting in less attractive future prospects, lack of jobs, or too much competition. Regardless of your reasons for changing careers, your old methods may need updating. To pass resume robots, put your best foot forward and avoid appearing under-qualified or over-qualified. Here’s a resume critique checklist to help you in your career change and land a job in a new field.
Resume Critique Checklist for an Effective Job Search
After writing your application piece, you need to assess if it is good enough to compel the hiring manager that you can effectively hold the post even if you’re from another industry. To guide you, here’s what you need to ask yourself.
1. Did you do a comprehensive rewrite?
Most job applicants make a few quick changes in their resume before sending it. If you’re changing careers, review your skills during the editing and include every area you may affect. Our checklist for resume writing obliges you to ensure that your piece shows the full breadth of your skills. These include your operations, communication, leadership, and management skills.
2. Did you use the new job description to write your summary?
While resume experts have diverse opinions on the need for a resume objective or summary, it’s important for career shifters like you.
Place the summary at the top part of your resume and match everything in the job description with what you’ve done in the past. For example, if the job post needs online marketing expertise, add a marketing or web experience you have had in the opening paragraph. Since most recruiters have little time to spare in scanning resumes, make sure the first thing they read relates to the job description.
3. Did you show your achievements in numbers and percentages?
Include bullet points that show how you’ve contributed to the success of your past employer. Numbers, such as those given in dollars, can give hiring managers an idea of your contributions.
Numbers and percentages are important in all resumes. However, for a career shifter, they help managers relate to an unfamiliar work history. Hence, these data are a must-have if you want a more complete resume writing checklist.
4. Did you add relevant job descriptions?
A short description after your job title can also help the hiring manager to show your transferable skills. Let’s say your job title was “software engineer” and you want to shift to project management. You may write your job title as, “Software Engineer (with a strong emphasis on Project Management).” Don’t exaggerate though. Use this approach only if true and it applies.
5. Did you highlight your non-work related experience?
As a career shifter, extracurricular activities in your resume will also carry more weight. Thus, include activities that relate to your desired role such as volunteering, professional association membership, part-time consulting, and internships.
6. Did you omit your irrelevant past work experience?
Although you must avoid large, unexplained gaps in your resume, you need not list every job you’ve had if they’re irrelevant. Instead, show how easy it is for you to move into this new career by focusing on relevance and not on volume.
Past work is important if you’re a professional who’s willing to take on a lower role just to change careers. A few employers discount “over-qualified” candidates because they may turn up their noses or can’t do the job. So, place the length of your experience. Likewise, stress your commitment to the career shift and your ability and willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the tasks.
7. Did you place keywords?
Keywords help resumes move past filtering software. For a career shifter, they’re the first potential barriers to stepping into a new role. For instance, if your resume is full of marketing keywords, it will have a hard time getting past filters for a job in accounting.
Resume experts tell you to use job sites such as Jobster, Indeed, Simply Hired, and Guru to find useful keywords. Search more than a few postings for your ideal job and copy and paste the descriptions. Then, look for the keywords by highlighting any descriptor or stating needed skills. You may pick keywords that match your work experience and place them throughout the first page of your application.
8. Did you use the proper resume format?
Many resume formats work well with career shifters. First is the Mixed Chronological Resume. This format lists your past work experience in reverse chronological order and starts with a qualifications summary. This suits you if you have transferable skills from your past jobs since the summary will highlight your most relevant qualifications to point them out to the hiring manager. Likewise, state your new career objective in the qualifications profile, so managers won’t assume you’re staying in your old field. If your last few positions don’t show you fit for the potential job, make sure you point it out in this section.
Another good format for career shifters is the Functional Resume. If you want a career that’s different from your past job, this will work well for you because it lets you downplay your work history and highlight your skills instead. Start your resume with a career goal and qualifications profile. You may also create categories to stress related skills. Don’t forget to list your work timeline at the end of your resume, too, minus the job descriptions for unrelated posts.
The Letter-Style Resume is a cover letter that replaces a resume. It focuses on your passion for the industry and any related experience or training and allows you to control the information you give.
However, experts don’t suggest this format for blind applications (via a job board) that ask for a resume. Reason: A few recruiters may view it as a red flag, a failure to follow instructions.
This format is best for networking scenarios where a mutual contact referred you. However, you still need to have a more traditional resume format in case the hiring manager asks for it. Besides, when using this resume format, keep your focus on how your skills and passion would help your potential employer reach the company’s goals.
When Reviewing Your Own Resume Doesn’t Work
When changing careers, a great challenge is marketing yourself to get the new job. Thus, make sure you answer “yes” to the questions above, which can serve as a resume review checklist template, before you send your job application to potential employers. Read also our blog on 10 celebs who successfully changed careers if you fear change and need inspiration.
Yet, if you look for someone better than a resume critique checklist or want to hire an expert writer to boost your job search, then talk to us. We’re a prime provider of effective resumes and other job application tools. With over 10 years of experience, we have produced thousands of resumes that stood out and helped clients get jobs.