Don’t Be a Slave to Your Resume! 5 Steps to Making a Successful Career Change
Don’t Be a Slave to Your Resume! 5 Steps to Making a Successful Career Change

Don’t Be a Slave to Your Resume! 5 Steps to Making a Successful Career Change

So, you’ve recently discovered a passion for another job, and now you are ready for a career change. One thing you have to understand before you take the plunge is that the standard approach to a job seeking isn’t going to work for you; without certification and years of experience in an industry, your resume will quickly disappear into a black hole in the recruitment system.

But no matter your situations is — whether you have maintained the same career for decades or jumped between several different career paths — you are able to successfully make a career change. The WISP team spoke with a number of HR-professionals and composed this list of five steps for those setting out to change their lives.

Eugenia Bereziuk is a business analyst at CactusSoft, an international organization that provides a full range of services required to build, adjust or improve HR or Business process in a company. In addition to her primary job, she is chief editor of on-boarding app WISP’s blog, where contributors discuss ideas around technology, the digital world, human resources, and HR tech. Tweet at Eugenia Bereziuk.

Ask anyone who has made a major career change, job searching within your new career is significantly more difficult than an ordinary job search: HR asks you, “What’s your background? Do you have the three to five years of industry experience that we require? No? Well, then thank you for your time. We’ll be in contact.”

And that’s it; the interview is over. They don’t even want to talk to you. Your whole resume is filled with all these excellent qualifications, but not for the career you are trying to break into. And when they see your experience in another industry, it can lead to fear that you are not really committed to the field.

Here are our five top tips to overcoming these obstacles.

Forget About HR Archetypes — No Fears or Doubts

Yes, some HR professionals really have archetypes in mind. We can talk about what’s legal and what’s not in terms of age, gender, and other forms of discrimination, but they often have an image in mind of what the ideal candidate is supposed to be: comes from a really good college, probably 35 years old, plays squash, and works well within the old boys’ club. They want a superhero, and they are looking for a Captain America to come save them.

So, on the job-seeker’s side, the greatest barrier is the way that candidates limit their job search based on their own doubts. Most of us believe we are limited by what our resume says. This drives people to go into related areas rather than branching out. Forget it! Forget about HR archetypes, and just move on.

You can pursue whatever drives your passion. What is the point in going through the stress of a career change if it isn’t a change that will make you happy? Get into a wildly different field if you want it: work for a church, a university, a high-tech company, a library — anything you want. You are not limited — just keep that in mind.


Get a Survival Job — Go Backward to Go Forward

When making a career change, everyone has moments of desperation, when they need an income to cover their basic expenses, but if they’ve left their old field behind, there is no money coming in. So, get a survival job; it is just one of the steps in changing careers.

Some money is better than no money. Get a job tomorrow if you need to pay the bills, understanding that what feels like taking two steps backwards is really just the launch pad for moving forward. It is something that you are doing for yourself, and it is a proactive step that ensures you won’t go running back to the career you left because you are feeling overwhelmed with panic about where next month’s rent is coming from.

Don’t be stopped by the idea that these backward steps are not practical. Maybe your friends adore your floral arrangements and have told you to make it your career, but your realistic side says it is too big of a risk. Stop that negative thought! You have to listen to your inner voice, because your ideas may not always look realistic, but they will take you in powerful directions.


Dreaming has to be a part of the process. Yes, being practical is important, but you can’t let practicality overshadow your vision. Don’t think, “Oh, there are more jobs opening over here, so I should focus on this field.” What will you say to your grandchildren? That in 2016 you picked a new career because there were a lot of jobs there? Let’s hope not. Believe in yourself; this is your history you are writing.

Your career should grow from who you are — not from a test you took in high school after which your guidance counselor said, “You should go into engineering.” If your job doesn’t celebrate you and your gifts and talents, it is ripping you off, no matter how much it pays.

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Don’t Associate Yourself With Your Resume

You have more talents and skills than you know, and all of them are relevant and helpful to hiring managers. So, if you want to change your career, you have to be willing to step out of the familiar and embrace the idea that you have something to offer beyond your degrees, certifications, and the years of experience you have.

Just think about a funny fact: we all basically change careers every time we change jobs. You can change careers while you are working the same job, and sometimes it changes from month to month.

Let’s say you are an internal salesperson: you sit on the phone, support external salespeople, and talk to customers. One day, you feel inspired and decide to call up some of your top clients and ask them five questions to establish a knowledge base, because you want to understand how your top customers feel about certain issues.

Then, you chat about it with your coworkers and higher-ups, and they say, “Oh, you’re doing marketing research.” And you think, “Oh, I guess I am.”

Today, we often don’t realize that we are crossing these types of boundaries.

Write a “Pain” Letter

This is your tool to obtaining the job you want, replacing the traditional cover letter. This is a way to bring out more of your voice and your personality, getting through the barrier that your lack of experience and certifications has placed in front of you. What you have to do is to ignore the black hole of the online recruiting system online — all of the platforms asking you about your tests and lists of duties.

You have to find your hiring manager, and send him or her a “pain” letter, which is a big upgrade from a traditional, boring cover letter.

A pain letter is your human voice resume, which is like any resume: one or two pages long, but it has a conversational tone. It is your own story, your passion for the new field, and your explanation of why you chose this new direction.


Remember about the tone of a “pain” letter. It is not an apology: “Your majesty, I hope you will allow me to come into the corporate world and join your lofty ranks.” No! Describe your experience without apologizing, with confidence, and with plenty of personality.

A human voice resume starts with a summary at the top: two or three sentences, a paragraph that explains why you are here, who you are, and what you love to do.

Not every manager will jump at your human voice resume, and this is good thing, really, as it helps you whittle down the possibilities. So, you can relax and say, “They didn’t get me, so they don’t deserve me. They are not going to get me, but somebody will.”

Just believe in yourself. That’s the trick.

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