Career Change Resumes — Combination Format

Summary: Career change resumes usually call for a slightly different technique in format and presentation. Using a format that emphasizes ‘skill clusters’ rather than a linear work history may help to promote the transferable skills you have already acquired.

If you’re changing roles professionally, or perhaps returning to the workplace after taking time to raise a family, you may need to lay greater emphasis on your skills rather than your work history.

The so-called ‘combination’ resume format allows you to benefit from the advantages of the chronological resume and the functional style. By blending the two formats you can give greater weight to transferable skills that you will bring to your new job from various experiences in your background.

As with any resume writing task, it all starts with an exercise to match your talents with the needs of the employer. Look carefully at the job description or advertisement. Try to imagine how the employer envisions the ideal candidate to fill their vacancy:

  • What skills and personal attributes might they be looking for?
  • Are specific qualifications important?
  • What key functions and roles will the employee have to fulfill in their work?

When you have done this preliminary research, you’ll be able to judge how you could show your competence in these areas and highlight it accordingly. Here are just a few examples of skills that could be effectively transferred from one job field to another:

  • supervision of employees
  • staff training
  • management of budgets or accounting
  • customer relations
  • IT support

When you’ve identified the most important qualities required of an applicant for the job you want, you can present relevant competences and accomplishments from your work history under skill headings.

A carefully crafted objective statement can be a powerful opener in a resume for a career change. For example:

To apply my experience as chief receptionist in a doctor’s office to the role of customer service manager.

Your presentation of key transferable skills and experience in your resume and cover letter will go on to provide evidence of your suitability for this position.