Resume Transitions

I spent the past weekend in Florida, attending training for ACS career volunteers. One of the talks I attended was on writing resumes. Much of the discussion was things I’ve told people over and over:

Tailor each resume to the position for which you are applying
Create an objective even if you choose not to include it on the final version
Focus on skills and specific accomplishments
Spend the most time/space on the information that will be most important to the hiring manager
Check carefully for typos
Have others read – choose people who have an excellent command of English, and who will give you honest feedback

However, when you’re trying to transition into a new field, you have to write a resume that highlights your skills in the new area, and they may not have been the major focus of your current position. The best way to do this is to include accomplishments that prove that you have already done things that are exactly what they are looking for, or at least very close. Sometimes, this means you have to include things from various points in your career, maybe some from previous jobs, or from volunteer work.

If you are making a significant change, you probably want to use a functional resume, instead of a chronological format. In this format, you list your accomplishments in categories, instead under the job at which you did them. Here’s an example of a chronological format:

Company A, 2005 – present
wrote 14 papers
synthesized 8 compounds

Company B, 2002-2005
ran 300 NMRs
prepared 5 patents

Company C, 1997-2002
– built 1,000 member combinatorial library
– presented 4 talks at international conferences

This same information can be presented in a functional format as follows:

Technical Communication
– wrote 14 papers
prepared 5 patents
presented 4 talks at international conferences

Synthetic Organic Chemistry
synthesized 8 compounds
ran 300 NMRs
built 1,000 member combinatorial library

If you were looking for a position as a technical writer, which version do you think would get the hiring manager’s attention?

Just by organizing the information in a different way, you make it abundantly clear that you have significant experience as a technical communicator and synthetic organic chemist, even if some of your accomplishments come from jobs you had a long time ago. This is a great way to bring out all the experience you’ve had that’s related to a particular field, no matter where you got it. If you do choose to list your accomplishments in a functional format, you will need to include an employment history – a list of company names, job titles, and the dates you worked there – but this can go on the second page.

One Response to “Resume Transitions”

  1. career coach says:

    Hello!I got the most reliable information about Many people find that throughout their lives unforeseen or planned events happen that pull them out of the workforce for short or long periods of time. Often resume writing for returning workers seems very problematic simply because there is a small or large gap in the work timeline detailed in the resume.Thanks!