Staying with the same company for decades until retirement is so out of vogue. Nowadays, people typically switch jobs 10 to 15 times over the course of their careers, with the average person holding 12 different positions before retiring. People generally spend about five years or fewer in each job, and common reasons for leaving include higher pay, better benefits, dissatisfaction with company culture, or simply the urge to try something completely new.
If you fall into the last category and are ready for a major change, you might be wondering how to find a job in a new career field. It all starts with the way you present yourself on paper. Here’s how to optimize your resume and cover letter when you’re preparing for a big career leap.
1. Take full advantage of the cover letter in your career change.
The cover letter is not just for rehashing items you’ve already listed on your resume—it’s also a chance to show the hiring manager aspects of your personality that your resume doesn’t. Use this space to give a little insight into your reason for changing fields, and explain why your experiences at your previous jobs actually make you a great candidate for a position in a new industry.
2. Emphasize your transferable skills.
You may not think that the skills you gained in your previous jobs can help you land a position in a new field, but when you take some time to think about it, you will probably realize that you have quite a few transferable skills. Transferable skills can include anything that will benefit you in any field. Look carefully at each job description and the requirements before you apply—do you recognize anything that you’ve already mastered at your current job? Do you have soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills, that would make you a great fit for this new company? Get creative and think outside the box!
3. Highlight your measurable accomplishments on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
A dedicated, driven, and motivated employee can make a good impression on any hiring manager, but simply listing your previous responsibilities won’t cut it. Did you increase sales at your old company? Did you boost the brand’s social media presence? Did attendance at their events skyrocket after they put you in charge? Make sure to include any measurable achievements with the numbers to back it up on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
4. Don’t overlook your outside experiences.
Just because you learned something outside the office doesn’t mean you can’t include it on your resume. Feel free to add any relevant skills you picked up while volunteering, holding a leadership position in your community, or managing your own side hustle. If you’re a recent graduate, you can also include responsibilities you held in campus organizations or any important research you conducted as part of your degree. For example, you could include your senior thesis or a research trip abroad in your education section.
5. Consider including an objective statement.
A resume objective is a short statement that appears at the top of your resume to sum up what makes you a great candidate for the job. While it’s true that many people simply leave objectives off their resumes altogether, the practice hasn’t totally gone out of style, and if you’re switching careers, it could help you make a case for your qualifications. Keep it brief—just a few sentences—and highlight exactly how your background makes you a suitable candidate for the position you’re applying to.
Whether you’re applying for your first job after college, a similar position in a different company, or making the switch to a whole new field, a little careful networking certainly never hurts. LinkedIn is an excellent resource in this respect. If you know anyone at the new company you’re applying to, reach out to them and ask for any advice they might have for polishing up your resume or landing an interview. They may be able to put in a good word for you and boost your chances.
7. Get matched to jobs and browse company ratings on InHerSight.
Once you’ve perfected your resume and cover letter, it’s time to find positions and companies to apply to! InHerSight has a matching system that ensures the job postings you see align with your priorities and skill sets. You can also peruse women’s reviews of companies you’re considering to assess how female-friendly they are. Or try posting a question for the community to answer if you want more information. These tools should help you find what you’re looking for in your career change. Good luck!
Jane Harkness is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. Her writing has been published on Thought Catalog, Student Universe, Pink Pangea, and more. She blogs daily on Medium, and you can check out more of her work at janeharknesswrites.com.