How to Optimize Your Resume and LinkedIn For a Career Switch

Matt Glodz
How to Optimize Your Resume and LinkedIn For a Career Switch

Use these resume and LinkedIn strategies to help with your career transition

During today's difficult economic situation, many applicants (especially those in fields such as hospitality, travel, and leisure) have been left with no other option but to find roles in new industries.

Whether you find yourself in a similar situation or are simply looking to make a significant career change (such as jumping from finance to HR or from marketing to journalism), you probably realize that doing so can be quite a challenge.

The biggest obstacle?

You're competing against applicants who already have experience in the field, and you have none.

How do you optimize your resume to pass initial ATS screenings if you're applying for roles at large companies?

Then, once it gets into the hands of a human, will it convince recruiters to take a chance on you over someone with years of industry experience?

To help you make a smooth transition into a new sector, consider implementing the following strategies.

1) Highlight relevant experiences on your resume up front

If your latest position isn't directly relevant to the role you're applying for, you want to make sure recruiters understand that you would still be a good fit.

The best way to accomplish this goal is to incorporate relevant keywords at the top of your document.

When preparing your resume for a career transition, start by analyzing the job descriptions for your target roles:

  • Print out the job descriptions for your target roles
  • Grab a highlighter
  • Highlight the skills and keywords that appear most frequently
  • Incorporate these skills into your resume

You can weave the relevant keywords you identify into two main sections of your resume:

Key Expertise Section

Consider adding a "Key Expertise" section that simply consists of keywords pertaining to your target roles.

We recommend including between 6-10 bullet points that focus on hard skills (or technical skills) specific to the role.

Here, you can highlight any relevant skills you possess even if they were a relatively small component of your previous role.

Your primary goal is to immediately show recruiters that you possess the necessary skills, preventing them from deeming your application irrelevant and moving onto the next candidate.

However, this strategy will also help your document pass initial ATS scans.

Work Experience Section

In your "Work Experience" section, try to naturally include the keywords you identified in your bullet points.

If you're looking to pivot from finance to HR, for example, make sure to highlight the HR-related components of your current role.

Even though you worked in finance, you may have interviewed candidates for your department or represented your company at career fairs. Make sure to bring this up!

Once you have updated your content, think about the order in which you present your bullet points as well.

You'll want to prioritize the skills and tasks that are most relevant to your target role.

2) Take professional development courses in your area of interest

If you don't have any relevant experience in the field you are looking to enter, consider taking some online courses instead.

By listing professional development courses on your resume, you'll be able to:

  1. Demonstrate that you have some degree of background knowledge
  2. Demonstrate your interest in the field
  3. Incorporate applicable keywords into your documents

While many prestigious universities offer online certificate programs, you don't have to invest thousands of dollars to reap the benefits.

Credible providers offering free courses in topics ranging from business to computer science to engineering include:

3) Make your case in your cover letter

If you're looking to switch sectors, forget any advice you've heard about a cover letter being optional.

In your case, it's a non-negotiable. 

Your cover letter is the single best opportunity you have to make your case - especially if you are applying with no internal connections at the company.

Recruiters may be confused as to why you are trying to move from investment banking to marketing, to begin with. 

Your goal is to give them comfort that you:

  • Are truly interested in the role
  • Have thought seriously about and are committed to your move
  • Know what you're getting yourself into

Your cover letter allows you to share the reasoning behind your decision and provide additional examples of why you would be successful.

4) Optimize your LinkedIn to align with your target role

It's common for recruiters to overlook a profile if the skills listed do not match those required by the role they are looking to fill. 

While we never recommend putting false information on your LinkedIn profile, you can take steps to align your each section of your profile more closely with your target sector:


When trying to pivot into a different sector, make sure to explain the transition you are looking to make in your LinkedIn summary.

Why are you looking to move?

What unique value will you be able to add as a candidate with no previous experience?

Sometimes, bringing a fresh perspective can be an advantage!


Update your headline to more closely align with your target positions instead of your career history.


Add skills to your profile that are relevant to your target role to ensure that you appear in recruiter searches.

If you're looking to pivot from finance to marketing, for example, think about removing skills such as "cash flow analysis" and adding "marketing strategy" instead.

LinkedIn Skills Assessments

Take LinkedIn Skills Assessments to prove that you do possess the abilities needed to succeed in your target role.

These assessments are available for topics ranging from Microsoft Office to C/C++ to WordPress.

In Summary

If you want to make a major career change, you'll need to invest significant time into repositioning yourself as a candidate.

Whether you're intentionally looking to pivot or the COVID crisis has forced you to do so, remember that you'll maximize your odds of a faster career transition by putting time into tailoring your resume and LinkedIn profile.


About Resume Pilots

Resume Pilots is an award-winning executive resume writing, career coaching, and outplacement firm. Our previous clients include CEOs and senior executives at the world's leading companies.

Here's how we can help you:

Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Writing: After a one-hour phone consultation, one of our expert writers will prepare your top-quality personal marketing materials from scratch. 

Resume Content Review & Resume Editing: A professional pair of eyes will look over your existing resume to catch any errors and advise on areas of improvement.

Career Transitions: A powerful combination of our document writing and career coaching services helps position you to secure a new role.

To learn more, book an introductory call here or email

We're a proud member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. All of our writers have studied in the Ivy League and other top-tier universities and have solid industry experience.

About the AuthorMatt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He works with clients ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over eight years.

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