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Resume Strategies For the Career Changer
John O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

By John M. O'Connor, BA, MFA, CRW, CPRW, CCM, CECC
President - Career Pro of NC Inc.

John O' Connor
Guest Columnist Special Feature
In many ways, you need grasp the idea that you will have some major career shifts and, most likely, change careers during your career. How can I make this claim? All industries change and as the industry changes then you must change with it. No industry remains stagnant and if a business that serves that industry does not change then that business faces changes of its own.

Look at the way the construction business or housing industry has changed. Look at the technology and software industries. Have they changed? They change daily. How about the oil business, the airlines and others? Either the business, technology, people and economies change or something shifts. For those shifts any jobseeker or person who intends to have a long career must embrace change.

To open a door to a new career jobseekers must focus on accepting change as reality. Be ready to respond swiftly during your career. Change happens abruptly in business. It happens abruptly throughout many a career path. What’s in our control? You control your actions and your attitudes; that may be about all you can control. Current Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers suggest that 65% of people don’t like their jobs. But what do they do about this dissatisfaction? Where do they go to take proactive, positive action on finding their professional calling, their next steps?

To properly research new ideas you can use the big job boards like Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. Other sources of information may come as easy as finding articles and information from a variety of sources: industry journals, company websites, DOT, OOH, ONET and other resources. In a competitive job market, it's hard enough for job seekers on a steady career path to get their resumes noticed. If you are pursuing a new direction, it's all that much more difficult to convince hiring managers to take a chance on you.

Mistakes that career changers make usually means that they want to utilize the same resumes they have from previous career as they attempt to pursue new careers. That just simply won’t work. As professionals, many of my clients need a makeover and to understand they must self-study in order to research, define and emphasize key qualifications for these new goals and objectives.

What do the potential hiring managers want to see in a resume? Here’s a tip – they want to see what you can do for them now and how you will drive revenue and reduce cost for them now. What do they want to see in you if you ran a construction operation but now want to consider selling industrial products? In a behavioral interview for major account management, how will you relate your transferable skills? What if you were in the military and you want to be in a federal job? That may make sense. But how do you relate your military experience to a corporate assignment in finance or operations? The list goes and could go on forever.

They don’t need to know dry work history or a listless listing of dates, times and responsibilities but they do need to understand the transferable skills, keywords and strategy you intend to take with them in communicating your specific and immediate value. Any savvy jobseeker and especially a career changer may need to clearly write down, analyze and synthesize raw data to feature why they are marketable and why they should be interviewed. A great resume or personal marketing material must brand you. It must say this: Here’s how I can help you drive revenue and reduce costs.

From a writing and technical perspective, this may mean coming up with new formatting, creative and functional focused documents vs. chronological based resumes. A new field of focus deserves new techniques to make the argument. Purely functional resumes may not work either. The balance between making a strong argument and hiding something often means that some combination of functional and chronological approach suits careers changers best. To arm the client with a resume that sells, professional writers should be able to passionately tell the story and entice the potential hiring manager. To accomplish this and to attract attention, carefully take into account these steps in resume designs for career changers: Quality Format Selection; Strategic Organization; Clear Career Goal; Qualifications Summary; Related Experience. It must be noted that career changers may use related experience and not just professional experience as evidence. Qualifications then do not just have to come from a strict work history. During a career change it may be beneficial to take or work with a career coach or counselor on the data that comes through assessment tests. Take a look at career coaches who uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DISC, Strong Interest Inventory and Campbell Interest & Skill Survey.

A functional resume by the way is not out of the question for all occasions especially if a someone wants to drastically change their career. As a writer just be aware that this style downplays work history but highlights related skills. A work chronology here could become a listing at the end of the resume that has company name, city, state, job title and dates with no job description for unrelated positions.

Although a jobseeker or career changer may not have the exact experience base they usually do find out, after some coaching and cajoling, that they have transferable skills from career, a hobby, volunteer experience, or military experience.

Jobseekers need our very serious advice on their resume. Too many situations mean there may be too many things to handle, including: Choppy Work History, Out of Work, Unrelated Experience, Lack of Experience, Too Young or Too Old, Overqualified, Hazy Objective, No Degree, Criminal Record, Termination Questions. 

Have a career or job search-related question to ask our expert? CLICK HERE TO EMAIL JOHN with your questions.


About our Expert:
John M. O'Connor is the President of Career Pro of NC Inc.(
www.CareerProInc.com) a comprehensive career services organization specializing in Executive Search, Talent Acquisition, and Consulting.

In 2004, Mr. O'Connor became the first private practice Certified Federal Job Search Trainer (CFJST) in North Carolina. He is also a Certified Electronic Career Coach (CECC). With a unique fiction writing pedigree with fiction publications as well, he obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. With over 12 years experience in professional career transition, resume writing and career coaching, O’Connor applies his considerable job market expertise to career transitioners nationally.

He has been featured recently (May 2003 and May 2004 feature) in the Raleigh News & Observer, Resume Writers Digest, The Gladiator, Execunet, Career Masters Institute Monthly Newsletter, Monster Career News and other national publications such as JIST. Additionally his diversified experience includes serving as a college professor and as a US Army officer.

For more background information and past articles for CarolinaNewswire.com, check out John's Archives as well as all our other guest columns at http://www.carolinanewswire.com/expert.php.

CarolinaNewswire.com provides the thoughts and analysis of this columnist as a free benefit to our readers but without any representations or warranties as to the accuracy or efficacy of such thoughts or analysis. The opionions, analysis, and thoughts expressed here are those of the author only and should not be deemed as legal, financial, or tax advice from this publication.  Readers with legal, financial, or tax questions should consult a professional.

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