As a career and executive life coach, I receive a lot of questions regarding resumes from my clients who are in career transition. One of the top concerns is how to represent their current skills and qualifications when there may be little or no work history within the targeted field of their job search. These types of jobseekers often have a difficult time highlighting their skills in a way that really sells them to potential employers. Overcoming this challenge is as simple as creating a skills-based functional resume.
EVALUATE YOUR SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS.
Make a list of all the skills you currently possess. Take a look at your past work experiences, volunteer positions, internships and even life experiences. Write down all the things you enjoy and especially those things that you are really good at. You may want to review past job descriptions and former course catalogs to recall important skills you have mastered.
IDENTIFY KEY TRANSFERABLE SKILLS.
Transferable skills are those that can easily transfer or be applied to your new career. These are skills that you may have acquired in ANY area of your life (school, work, volunteering, parenting, hobbies, etc.). Key transferable skills are not industry-specific. For instance, a stay-at-home mother will have key transferable skills in budgeting, child development, housekeeping, estate management, scheduling, culinary arts and more.
WRITE A VALUE-ADDED OBJECTIVE STATEMENT.
An objective statement is a one to three line sentence that explains what you are trying to achieve. In other words, it is your purpose for pursuing your new career. A good objective statement identifies what position you are seeking, provides a brief synopsis of how you are qualified for the position, and it explains the mutual benefit both you and the company will receive once you are placed within the position.
DRAFT YOUR KEY TRANSFERABLE SKILLS INTO ACCOMPLISHMENTS-DRIVEN PHRASES.
Many jobseekers make the mistake of describing their skills in terms of their job description; the duties and responsibilities required by their past positions. Your functional resume should highlight your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities. Begin each skills phrase with a powerful action verb in the first person. The verb should end in “-ed” for skills you have performed in past positions or within your current position but no longer perform. An example of an accomplishments-driven skill is “Screened and routed calls to appropriate parties via a 100-line switchboard”. This is a much better phrase than the responsibilities-driven skill “answered phones”. See the difference?
ARRANGE YOUR FUNCTIONAL RESUME TO HIGHLIGHT SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS.
When the human eye scans a sheet of paper, it is immediately drawn to the center. This means that the most important information you want to portray should be located in this area. Arrange your resume to highlight the list of key transferable skills you came up with by placing them in the middle section of your resume. This means it will follow your header and objective statement. You may also want to include a summary paragraph of your qualifications most relevant to the position you are applying for just before the skills section. Follow the skills section with your education, certificates, awards, licenses and other relevant sections. If you include work history, it should be a simple list of only the positions (paid, volunteer or intern) held within the past five to ten years that are relevant to your new career.
COMPOSE A Q-LETTER TO ACCOMPANY YOUR FUNCTIONAL RESUME.
Q-letters, or qualifications-letters, are a special kind of cover letter that will highlight your key transferable skills in direct correlation with the job position you are applying for. Start with the job description in hand and prepare a table that points out the job requirements in one column and your corresponding accomplishments-driven key transferable skills that meet those requirements in the second column. Summarize your experience in a concluding paragraph and request an interview. You can use q-letters in lieu of a cover letter or as a preview to the resume for positions that are unsolicited.
TIPS TO REMEMBER:
- Use 12-point font that is easily formattable.
- Remember: skills can have been acquired in ANY area of your life.
- Include your salary requirements in your Q-letter or cover letter.
- Stay away from colored, scented and thick, heavy paper.
- ONLY include skills, qualifications and other data that are RELEVANT to the position you are applying for.