Trying to transition careers and not getting any traction? That means you aren’t highlighting your skills and capabilities through the lens of the new job or career. One of the biggest mistakes people make when drafting their resume is listing all their accomplishments in each job. Huh? That’s right. Your resume is not a list of every accomplishment you’ve ever achieved. Those accomplishments are looking backwards. Your resume is meant to look forward and translate your skills and capabilities through the lens of the new job. So, how do you do that?
Here are four easy steps:
Step 1: Review job descriptions for hard and soft skills and value. Search LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google for job descriptions at all levels (SVP, VP, Director, Manager, Coordinator) in the field you want to move into. Even if you are not at an SVP level, reviewing job descriptions at that level will show you the trajectory for the career and will also help you determine if you can demonstrate additional skills above and beyond the job level you will be applying to. Showing additional skills that will be needed in the future or you could use now to take on higher level responsibilities will suggest you can provide greater value in the role than other candidates at that level. Print the descriptions and highlight the hard and softs kills needed to be successful in the job.
Step 2: Skills as keywords. Take all the hard and soft skills from step 1 and write them down. These are your keywords. Every keyword you wrote down needs to be in your resume. Recruiters scan LinkedIn profiles and resumes for these words when they are searching for the best candidates for a job. They are also the words Artificial Intelligence programs search for when determining to include you in the candidate pool for recruiters to review. Without keywords in your resume, you will most certainly be overlooked. The goal is to use the keywords in your resume in a way that shows you have the experience needed for the role or understand how to do the work even if you haven’t done it before in the specific job.
Step 3: Review your skills and accomplishments through the lens of the new job. If you have worked in the commercial workforce or volunteered, you have skills and accomplishments. Even if you’ve never worked but you have traveled the world, you have gained skills such as immigration, cultural awareness, and perhaps learning languages. Write them down in the STAR(T) or CARL method. STAR(T) stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and I always add an extra “T” at the end for takeaways. Carl stands for Context, Action, Results and Learnings. Either format will help you frame your previous accomplishments through the lens of the new job using keywords.
For example, in my Viacom job, I oversaw a team which was in charge of production risk, dealing with background checks, psych exams and medical exams on some of your favorite reality show participants as well as immigration issues, child labor compliance, and advising on safety and security. I wanted to move into HR, but I wasn’t in HR, had never worked in HR and quite frankly, truly didn’t understand what strategic HR was until I transitioned into the job. But I had to prove in my resume that I could do the job. I looked at all the keywords in the HR roles which interested me, researched what they meant, and looked at my accomplishments through the lens of the new role.
Here is how I positioned myself at the top of my resume:
STRATEGIC LEADER with a track record of solving complex organizational challenges through people-related solutions that enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiencies, manage competing interests, and build relationships while bridging differences, resulting in increased performance and sustained cross-organizational impact.
Here are some bullet points I used on my resume:
Organizational Effectiveness: Overhaul an inherited unproductive and ineffective team through implementing 360 reviews, coaching current staff to a superior level of task maturity, creating employee engagement and learning programs and generating renewed energy and commitment from team, which turned the business unit into one of Viacom’s most effective cross company functions.
Coaching and Developing Leaders: Coach team and executives on critical business decisions impacting shows’ operations and talent strategies to drive organizational effectiveness and talent engagement in alignment with company’s vision and objectives during continual change and transition.
Sound Judgment: Empower bi-coastal diverse team which provides sound guidance to all company business units on more than 1000 projects annually in substance areas, including but not limited to, crisis and risk management, labor and employment issues, background checks, psychological and medical evaluations, immigration, foreign travel, child labor, OSHA and other regulatory compliance.
Developing Competencies: Developed in house competencies in immigration and child labor to create process efficiencies and reduce external expert costs by more than 20%.
I did not do any of the above companywide. I did them within my small team but was able to show through keywords (bold) that I understood the overall concepts of what I’d be doing in HR.
Step 4: Leave off accomplishments not relevant to the new job. That’s right, I’m giving you permission to leave off your greatest accomplishment or advanced degrees if you can’t view them through the lens of the new job. For example, I considered lobbying the US legislature to include immigration language to allow reality show participants to participate in specific shows on a visitor’s visa versus a work visa. The bill eventually failed to become a law, but it was a huge accomplishment (in my mind) and months of work to get the language in the bill. It is nowhere on my resume or on my LinkedIn because it was not relevant to HR, which was the career I was transitioning into. If you can’t translate your accomplishments through the language and lens of the new job, it is not relevant and will only confuse recruiters as to whether you understand the new job.
Develop your resume, talk track for interviews and overall presence to create a look, feel and sound of someone who understands the new job, speaks the language of the new job and career, and can do the new job, even if you have never done the new job before. Connect all of your skills and capabilities to the new job for recruiters and hiring managers to demonstrate how you will bring value to the job in a way they need or don’t even know they need until they talk to you.
For more information on how to translate your skills through the lens of the new role, click here to check out Wanted -> A New Career excerpts and examples.