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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

If you're 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.

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

When preparing your resume for a career transition, analyze the job descriptions for your target roles:

  • Print out the job descriptions
  • 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.

You can comfortably mention any relevant skills that you actually do possess - even if they were a small component of your previous role.

This strategy will help you pass ATS scans and will immediately show recruiters that you do possess the necessary skill sets.

Work Experience Section

You should also try to naturally include the keywords you identified in the bullet points underneath each work experiences.

If you're looking to pivot from finance to HR and have interviewed candidates for your department or represented your company at career fairs, for example, make sure to highlight the HR-related components of your current 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 (think eCornell and Harvard Business School Online), 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 reflect your target positions instead of the position you currently hold. 


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 change, you'll need to invest significant time into repositioning yourself as a candidate.

By conveying a consistent and believable story across your resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile, you'll maximize your odds of a faster, more successful career transition.

Our team of expert writers can prepare your resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile to help you with your career switch.

Wondering how your resume stacks up?

Feel free to submit it here for a free, no-obligation review.

We'll evaluate it on five key areas of resume writing and let you know how we can help if needed!


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 observed what drove the decision making of recruiters and hiring managers first-hand, noting that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his solid 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 currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over eight years.

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