A survey of InHerSight's network found that 57 percent of women are seriously considering a change, and another 32 percent are potentially considering a career change. If you're looking to make a career move, you're not alone.
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 worker 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.
It's completely possible to make a career change into an industry in which you have no experience—it all starts with a little strategic planning.
Here’s how to plan for a career move and optimize your resume and cover letter when you’re preparing for a big career leap.
1. Take stock of all of your skills and accomplishments
Sit down and take stock of all of your skills and accomplishments, whether you gained them through professional, volunteer, or simply life experience.
- Draw on the measurable accomplishments from previous jobs—revenue generated, time saved, processes managed, deals closed, assets or clients or accounts managed, programs created and run, etc.
- Make a list of "soft skills" that can be backed up with anecdotes or metrics—perhaps you're excellent at conflict management, creative problem solving, team motivation, or keeping cool under stressful situations.
- Also list licenses, certifications, and trainings you've completed. Consider continuing education as well.
If you're making a career change with no experience, you'll want to show a recruited or hiring manager in another field is your commitment to career, your work ethic, professionalism, and versatility. Consider this when working on your resume and cover letter.
2. Take full advantage of the cover letter in your career change
The cover letter is not for rehashing items you’ve listed on your resume—it’s 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.
You might say something like, I understand that I am a non-traditional candidate, but my excellent record of managing and growing five-figure accounts for a digital marketing company would make me an asset to your university's development office.
3. Emphasize your transferable skills
That list you made before? Lots of those will be your transferrable 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!
4. 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 or CV and LinkedIn profile.
Keep in mind that larger companies with recruiting departments often use software to identify qualified candidates for review—which means that there may be no eyeballs on your resume, just an algorithm.
Because you're looking for a career change and have no experience in your destination industry, your resume may not naturally contain specific language the company has asked the software to identify. Because of this, pay careful attention to the language used in the job description, which will give you clues about what specific words they may be looking for.
5. 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 looking for a career outside your degree or area of concentration, 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 on your resume
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.
6. Network—especially outside your current field
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.
Let people know that you're in the market for a change. That means not only professional contacts, but personal as well.
LinkedIn is another 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.