Resume Help/Career change resume


What is the best way to write a resume aimed towards job that I never had before. Lets say my only paid experience is as an automechanic, yet I want to apply for a job that's in customer service - where do I begin?

Hi Gene,

Good question, but shifting careers is not as unusual or as difficult as you might imagine.  The idea is to take the skills that you have and highlight them in ways that make you a good fit for the new profession.

I am going to recommend something here that I don't recommend often and that is to write your resume in "functional" rather than "chronological" format.  That is, you are going to bullet the skills that you have that coincide with what the new employer is seeking.  For example, as an auto mechanic you need to think about the times you dealt with people - your boss, your co-workers, customers (if you did) and write down examples from those encounters that make you a good fit for a customer service position.

The most important element of any resume is the way in which you describe yourself the way the new employer needs to see you.  So, for instance, if the job description for the customer service position lists a trait such as "good listener" among the things it wants in its new employee, think about times you had discussions with people in your mechanic job, how you responded, what the outcome was (this is particularly important for the customer, the car owner), and then use examples like that in both your cover letter (an extended description of those events) and the resume (very short bullet items highlighting your encounters).  Do that with each of the desired qualifications in the job description.

If you would like me to take a look at your resume and/or letter before you submit them, I would be happy to give you a free evaluation of your application documents to be sure you are on the right track.  Attach them to an email and send it to me at the address below.

Good luck!

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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