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How to Navigate a Major Career Transition on Your Executive Resume/CV

Is it time to pivot out of the functional area or industry you’ve been working within?

There is no doubt that expanding your horizons in terms of functional expertise or industry can amplify your career prospects and make you a more attractive hire for the broader perspective you’ll bring. But getting over the first hurdle of convincing a recruiter to consider you can be challenging.

It’s no surprise—it can even be challenging to develop a compelling career story when you are not making a major transition. Throw in the need to completely reposition yourself, and the task can quickly become overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to consider as you craft your career documents to reposition yourself for a new area or sector.

resume, CV

1. Take inventory of what you’ve gained in your background that is relevant.

There are elements that form part of your core expertise and strengths that are fundamental to your success as a business leader—no matter what area you work in. Some examples include strong customer-orientation, an innovation focus, the ability to forge strategic alliances (both internally and externally), a talent for fostering bottom-line thinking, a penchant for overcoming major hurdles standing in the way of business success, and exceptional people development skills.

Make sure you are describing your strengths and telling your career stories in terms of what will resonate universally across functions and industries—in particular if you cannot point to any initiatives that overlap with the area you hope to work in.

 

2. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in the summary section.

This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen it enough times for it to warrant mention. If you want to transition outside of the aviation industry, don’t let the first statement in your resume summary be your “20 years of experience within aviation”. If you have experience in Finance and Operations, and now want to venture into Business Development or Marketing, emphasizing the functional areas you have touched–other than the broader view of the business that they have given you—may not be helpful.

A better approach would be to describe your experience overview in terms of business value. For example, “20 years of experience delivering exceptional financial gains by harnessing the power of people.” Or “20-year track record of helping enterprises reach their full revenue and profit potential through business innovation.”

 

3. Focus on business impact.

In all resumes it is critical to communicate the revenue and profit impact you have had—but it is especially important if you are making a major career change. Ultimately what is most important for any function or industry will be your track record of delivering solid financial improvement and positioning your employers for lasting success.

Thus, as an example, for someone trying to transition from Finance to Business Development, it would be wise to skip the description of how financial procedures and accounting were managed, and rather focus on any revenue-impacting initiatives worked on, the positive financial gains of any mergers or joint ventures facilitated, or any alliances built with direct, revenue-driving areas.

 

4. Consider working with an expert.

If you are serious about the career shift and want to be a true contender alongside executives with vast experience in the industry or function you wish to delve into, consider working with a professional resume writer to help you craft your repositioning messaging. A specialized executive resume writer will know how to leverage both language and document formatting to take the spotlight off those elements you don’t want readers to dwell on and place it firmly on what will make you attractive for the new area of interest.

 

Communicating your fit for a new role or industry can be challenging, and often the first hurdle is a recruiter studying your resume who may not see the relevance of your profile. By following the tips above, you will be ready to overcome that initial hurdle and enter into the pool of potential candidates for your ideal new challenge.  

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About the author

Tiffany Hardy's picture

Tiffany Hardy, MA, ACRW, CPRW, is an executive resume writer and LinkedIn strategist with BlueSteps Executive Career Services and Top1Resumes. Hardy, a dual Spanish–American citizen based in the U.S., is dedicated to making a difference in global executive job searches by helping each one of her clients to communicate his or her unique value proposition to potential employers. She crafts high-impact career literature—resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, E-notes, executive bios, and more—approaching each project not only as a twice-certified resume writer but as an international business insider with 10+ years’ experience working closely with top-brass international businesses in Spain, as a former hiring agent, and as a former editor for the European Commission.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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