Changing up your resume can help you change industries, says career coach: Here's her best advice

Instead of using the traditional chronological format, try a combination style resume.


Millions of Americans have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. If you work in some of the hardest-hit industries, such as arts and entertainment, manufacturing, and travel, it might seem more difficult than ever to get a job.

Career coach Lakrisha Davis, Founder of NextUp Resume, offers simple resume fixes that can help you get your next position, especially if you're looking to switch from one field to another. 

Change the format of your resume

First, says Davis, change your resume format. Instead of using the traditional chronological format, try a combination style: That has helped her clients transition between industries.

According to Davis, too many job candidates rely on the chronological format, which only details your work history and focuses too much on job titles. 

To change industries, change up your resume: Here's how

Video by Courtney Stith

"People put you into a box because of their understanding of those roles, but not knowing that [in] many organizations they make you put your hands in several different [tasks] around the organization," Davis says. "So you might have gained additional skills under the title that you're working in, and in addition to that, you may have pursued certifications, or some education or training."

For example, perhaps at your last job you took extra classes on topics like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Analytics, or beginner coding on sites like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy or Khan Academy. If so, a chronological resume might not be the best way to highlight that.

A combination resume will help you showcase your skills and outline your future career ambitions. By including separate sections for technical skills and core competencies, as well as a one-paragraph summary of your know-how and achievements, you can display your strongest qualifications and your relevant experience at a glance.

Chronological Resume
Combination style resume.
Courtesy Lakrisha Davis

Include keywords and phrases from job descriptions

Add key words and phrases from job applications on your resume, even if you haven't gained mastery in those skills yet, Davis suggests.

"Don't be afraid to put keywords and [relevant] content on your resume that you haven't gained mastery in yet," she says. "There is nothing wrong with saying 'solid exposure to ...' or 'some familiarity of ...' or 'some understanding of ...' these concepts." 

Without the specific key words and phrases on your resume, the applicant tracking systems could push you out of the system.

Don't be afraid to put keywords and [relevant] content on your resume.
Lakrisha Davis
Founder of NextUp Resume

Study "3-5 [job descriptions], in order to understand what skills and experiences from your history of work that you need to market for the job," says Davis. You can look through job descriptions on sites like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed.

Brandi Frattini, CareerBuilder's talent acquisition manager, previously told Grow that using the right keywords can help your resume get into the right hands. Including soft skills like "time management" or "ability to work well on a team" is smart, too, since those are abilities that hiring managers want to see on your resume, she says.

Mention outside experiences too

Switching careers can be tough if you don't have specific industry experience. But relevant experience you've gotten on your own can be useful, too. Mention outside experiences like freelance work, educational courses, or participation on boards or committees that add transferable skills to your resume, Davis says.

Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture and director of partner development at Microsoft, says not enough career changers focus on making concrete achievements to show employers they're qualified to handle the new job. Freelance or volunteer work can help you bring proven results to your interview, he points out, and it shows your commitment to creating a new career. 

One way to create meaningful experience is to create a side hustle to show your skills. When Belcak was looking for a new job, he started volunteering at digital marketing agencies. Then, after he "got his foot in the door," he began to offer his services to other agencies as an independent contractor.

That additional freelance work, Belcak says, was key to getting his job at Microsoft.

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