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Changing Careers? How to write your CV/Resume for a new direction - Part 3
Writing the Resume for a New Career Focus
This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. To go to Part 1, Click here
Knowing how to present yourself on paper when aiming to change careers can be a challenge.
In the previous sections, I discussed how my client's goal was to change careers after establishing himself in the fitness industry as a personal trainer and manager of a health club. He had decided he wanted to move into a sales career, specifically to land a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Although I abbreviated the notes from my interview with him, you will hopefully be able to see how the analysis of the information helped create the direction for writing of my client’s resume.
My client had never had any outside sales experience to the extent that would be required of a pharmaceutical sales representative. Based on this information, I know that it will be important to bring forward and elaborate on any sales experience that my client does have.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives have to be able to fulfill two roles: sales and education. They need to be able to retain an unbelievable amount of details about the products in their heads. This includes information about the research data, trials, protocols, outcomes and side effects of the drugs that they represent. They will need to be able to quickly respond confidently and intelligently to what can often be some very challenging questions coming from the medical professionals who are their customers.
My client's “product knowledge” in the fitness arena would be a strong selling point. His work as a personal trainer was dependent upon his ability to educate his clients. With his continuous research into the latest techniques and awareness of the potential risks and liabilities that would arise from insufficient communication, there was, in this context, a clear overlap with the work he was doing and the role of a pharmaceutical sales representative. This parallel in his experience must be clear with even the briefest skim of his resume.
Preparation for Writing
As a professional, before I start writing the resume, I put everything I have in front of me, review it all and make a list of what it is that I want to achieve for my client.
I need to analyze which approach will best guarantee a call back and an interview.
I must first put myself into the perspective of the prospective employer. It is essential to understand what they are looking for as they start reviewing the resumes they receive for this position. With a minimum amount of time and effort on their part, two points must come across almost immediately:
1. My client’s new career goal
2. That my client is among their most competitive candidates for this position
1. A Clear Objective is needed
In this case, a clear objective would be sensible as the resume is targeted toward a specific job. In the cases where the resume is not targeted toward a specific job, I do not recommend having an objective as it can be misleading and weaken the impact of the resume.
2. This Requires a Compelling and Convincing Professional Summary
I immediately conclude that my client needs a concise, targeted and compelling professional summary. This should give a synopsis of my client’s background while using the key words the employer used in the job advertisement to reflect his suitability for the job. Again, this has to be subtle and in the right context so it does not sound like parroting.
To convey that my client is “results oriented,” I decide that the summary should be followed with a Highlights of Achievements. If written strategically, the summary will grab the employer’s attention and, as long as they are relevant, the achievement highlights will sustain their interest.
The items in the highlights section will answer “yes” to the two most important questions in minds of those in the selection team. The first question is whether or not my client meets the minimum requirements of the position (a bachelor's degree). The second question is around how much sales experience he has.
By the time the person on the other end has read through the Highlights of Achievement, the aim is that he or she will be hooked and will have already short-listeded my client for an interview in their mind. But, I still do not want to take any chances and want to support the strength of the top part of the resume with substance from their work history. I also want to ensure that I incorporate as many of the buzz words as possible in the description of my clients' responsibilities with his current and previous jobs.
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In the case of my client, he was successful and did land his target job as a pharmaceutical sales representative. While the career change was not as extreme as one could be, no one would be so bold as to say that it was a foregone conclusion that he would definitely get the job. He still ran the risk that there would be others who were more qualified. Perhaps some candidates would have already had pharmaceutical sales experience or some other kind of outside sales experience or those who were already working in the medical field in some capacity.
It is true that the more dramatic the career shift, the more difficult it can be to create a case for candidacy. One of the best ways to manage a career change is to work with someone like a career coach or consultant who has expertise in doing a skills and experience inventory, who can help you understand in what other arenas your present competencies can be applied and where you might need additional training.
Very often, a career change requires planning and a long-term strategy.
There will be more said about this in my hub on career changes and analyzing choices following soon.
© 2010 M Selvey, MSc