Write a resume for the job you want, not the job you have, advises executive career coach and resume writer Charlotte Weeks.
Once upon a time, resumes were a laundry list of everything you’d done in your career. Employers could easily tell, based on your progression, what was next for you.
How times have changed!
With readers spending a matter of seconds scanning a resume, they won’t have the time to determine this. You have to tell them what job you want next, and why you’re the one qualified to do it.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. This actually presents you with an opportunity to proactively state what you are targeting, instead of having someone make a potentially inaccurate assumption.
Are you concerned that you haven’t done the job and don’t have 100% of the qualifications? Again, don’t worry. A reason that people change jobs is because they need new challenges, and recruiters and employers know this. Quite simply, it’s the NORM to not have all of the qualifications, and this can even be an asset – you’re more likely to stay in a position longer if you have time to grow into it.
A Resume for a Job You've Never Held
So, now that you’re convinced, how do you plan to write your resume toward a position you’ve never held? By keeping these principles in mind:
- Know what job you want
If you’re not clear about this in your mind, your resume won’t be clear either. Though titles may vary, be sure you have an idea of what function and level you’ll be targeting. If you’re not sure, or are hesitating to commit to an area of focus, hold off on writing your resume. Researching your options before moving forward will be a better use of your time, and make your job search much more effective in the long run.
- Assess job ads
Review job postings that are of interest to you - that you aspire to - and note the skills and qualifications listed that you already possess. Be sure these are included in your resume. No two job ads will be the same, so you’ll see differences in descriptions and verbiage. However, by reviewing multiple ads for related themes and common terminology, you’ll be better equipped to draft your aspirational resume.
- Consider transferable skills
Even if you haven’t done something in the same way, you may have something that translates well to your target job. For example, let’s say you’ve never held full P&L responsibility. However, you’ve regularly managed departmental budgets. By including this example, you’ll be showing the reader that you’re clearly comfortable with financials, and will be likely be able to pick up a new, related process.
- Remember accomplishments
Employers and recruiters know that the best indicator of a potential employee’s future success is a proven background. By providing specific examples of how your work positively impacted the company, you’ll be proving you can do the same again. Don’t forget the metrics – whenever possible, include quantifiable examples of the improvements that resulted from your work.
- Think about what you DON’T want: If there’s a task you never want to do again, don’t include it on your resume! Or, if it doesn’t apply to your future position (even if it does to your current), leave it off. At the very least, minimize irrelevant information by reducing the number of times it’s mentioned. What you leave off of a resume is just as important as what you leave on.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what to include in your aspirational resume, you’re probably wondering about the how. While there are countless options for formatting a resume, and every person’s strategy differs, there are a few elements that should be included in every resume.
Outside of your name and contact information, this is the first thing a reader will see on your resume. Make it count by ONLY including what applies to your target job. This section can be as short as three lines or as long as half of the first page. Imagine the reader has to make a decision on if you fit the job, based just on this section alone. Does yours pass the test?
- Job Description: Add a blurb about your key responsibilities under each job you’ve held, but don’t go overboard. The reader needs to know what functions you’ve managed and what your key tasks were at a high level. Details can be discussed in the interview.
- Accomplishments: If you don’t feel you have any accomplishments, I guarantee you do! Think about WHY your job even exists. What are your annual performance objectives? What is better in your area than when you first started?
- Education: It’s a good idea to include this section, even if you don’t have a degree. Professional development courses, certifications, and college credits are all valuable. With the exception of degrees though, be selective about what you include – it’s not necessary to list every one-day seminar you’ve ever attended.
Remember, practically EVERYONE has needed to make a career transition at least once in their life, even if it’s to their first post-school job. Illustrate that you can do the same, and you’ll be on the way to your future job!