6 Resume Tips for Career Changers

Are you changing careers? Or considering it? Before you start applying, you’re going to need to do some work on your resume. The point of a resume is to land you an interview, so how do you make that happen, when you’re an “outsider,” up against people who have already been working in or training for your new field? It’s hard, but not impossible.

Your resume is going to have to convince others that you can play the part. So stop thinking about your resume in terms of a historical record of your achievements, and instead approach it as a document that supports your new objectives. Let me show you some key strategies.

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Bite Size Your Job Hunting Strategy

When you are job hunting, you are bombarded with so many decisions. Where to search, what job titles to search for, what geographical area to target, what you’re qualified for, what you want to do. It’s overwhelming.

And we all know that decision fatigue results in analysis paralysis. It’s real, folks. Analysis paralysis is an affliction that most academics suffer from, seeing as we’re smart and trained to follow every research lede, and analyze (ahem, overanalyze) everything.

So step back from job hunting. Have you broken this down into bite-sized chunks yet?

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No Time to Network? Send an Email

It’s not just introverts who hate in-person networking. It’s also people who are time-pressed. My workplace is pretty good about having networking events during the day – a first-thing-in-the-morning type thing, or a networking lunch – but let’s face it, most places are not. Most networking events are after-hours, often off site at a bar (which raises its own issues of shutting out people who don’t want to be in that environment). People who have dogs who need to be let out, long commutes, loved ones to go care for, groceries to grab just simply do not have time for this.

But fear not! You can network from behind your keyboard. I’ve written about this a bit before, but today I’ll walk you through a foolproof method for connecting with someone new via email.

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Informational Interview Questions

Yesterday, I posted about something you can and should do when exploring a new career: an informational interview. But that post only covered how to schedule the interview. You still need to know what to ask during an informational interview. So let’s get started.

Why do an Informational Interview?

This is a low-stakes way for you to

  • meet someone in a different career,
  • explore how they got into that work, and
  • get a snapshot of a typical workday.

In other words, the point of an informational interview is to give you more data points on whether it might be a career that suits you and warrants more exploration.

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Build your network from connections

There’s not much that I dread more than networking events. So many of us (yes, even me) hate networking. Trying to strike up a conversation, nevermind build meaningful connections with strangers, can feel awkward at best, and at worst, forced and insincere. And for academics in particular, it can feel sales-pitchy, gross, and off putting.

Yet there are real, tangible benefits to networking. Conversations with work friends can lead to opportunities. You might hear about an upcoming job opening before it gets posted. You’re more likely to find out the inside scoop about an employer. Your connections might approach you to speak on your area of expertise, giving you the chance to promote your skills and knowledge. Or when you’re a candidate for a job, you might know someone who can put in a good word for you (in addition to your professional references).

Networking isn’t just about sharing business cards or building up your LinkedIn connections, though. For your network to be effective, you need to have or build relationships with your associates. You don’t want your connections to decline to connect, grow stale, or drop you because it’s a one-way connection. Making your network work for you means meeting people organically, and then thinking of your associates as real, genuine relationships. People who are not just looking out for you, but who are invested in keeping a relationship with you. So how can you do this? There’s two easy steps.

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