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Resume Dos and Don'ts for
Career Changers

by Tag and Catherine Goulet

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Resume Dos and Don'ts for
Career Changers
Published with permission from FabJob.

Do you need to work on your resume?

The answer is "yes" if any of the following are true for you:

  • You have never prepared a resume but now want to apply for positions that require one.
  • You have recent achievements or experiences that haven't yet been added to your resume.
  • You have been sending out resumes without getting called for interviews.

There is no single way to prepare a resume. In fact, there are three common resume formats -- chronological, functional, and combination -- and they don't work equally well for all job-seekers.

The chronological resume is the most commonly used format. It lists work experience in reverse order, starting with the most recent. A 2005 survey found that 84 percent of recruiters prefer chronological resumes so it's a good choice for those with a solid work history.

However, it is not a good format to use if you are changing careers. That's because the reason employers prefer these resumes is the format makes it easy for them to quickly weed out candidates whose experience doesn't precisely match what they're looking for. So if you're changing careers, a functional or combination resume will be a better choice.

Instead of listing your experience chronologically, in a functional resume you create headings for each skill you want to demonstrate, then summarize your previous experiences and accomplishments using those skills. The summary can include experience acquired through volunteer work, educational programs, or paid employment.

However, because this format is often used by applicants who have gaps or weaknesses in their work history, some employers view functional resumes with suspicion.

For career changers, the combination resume offers the best of both worlds, by combining elements of both the chronological and functional resumes. This resume is a good choice because it highlights your skills while giving employers the chronological work history that most want to see on a resume.

It includes a section with headings of relevant skills and summaries of your accomplishments in those areas. For example, under a heading titled "Customer Service and Sales" you might include points such as "Received thank-you letters from satisfied clients (available on request)" or "As a sales representative, consistently exceeded sales targets by 20%."

The skills section is followed with a brief chronological summary of previous jobs or other activities, such as "Homemaker, 2003-2006" or "Volunteer for ABC Society, organizing fundraising events, 2002-2004".

No matter what resume format you use, here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind.

  • Do put your contact information (name, address, telephone, e-mail) at the top of your resume.
  • Do include an objective or summary relevant to the position you are applying for. Explain the value you will bring to the employer; don't just state what you want. For example, Richard Valiquette, a sales consultant and coach and owner of Creative Coaching Solutions in Calgary, has this objective on his resume: "To contribute to the success of your team and increase revenue growth for your organization."
  • Don't just list your responsibilities at previous jobs. Instead, use action verbs to describe what you achieved in each position, such as: initiated, launched, activated, designed, implemented, expanded, increased, etc. Wherever possible, quantify your achievements.
  • Do tailor your resume by using the same wording as the employer. For example, if their ad says they are looking for someone with "expert customer service skills," state in your resume "expert" not "excellent. Your resume may be scanned electronically for specific keywords.
  • Don't include irrelevant information. Avoid mentioning personal information such as your age or unusual hobbies.
  • Do include relevant continuing education, any professional affiliations, and accomplishments such as awards or scholarships.
  • Don't include references on your resume unless asked to do so. It will be assumed that they are available on request.
  • Do make your resume's length appropriate for the amount of experience you have. For most people, that will be a maximum of two pages.
  • Do choose an attractive paper stock, lay it out nicely, and make sure there are no typos. If you are sending your resume by email, do use the specific format the employer has asked for. Don't send email attachments unless the employer requests them, or they may be deleted.

We do hope your resume helps you land your dream job.

Tag and Catherine Goulet are founders of FabJob Inc. and authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break Into a Fab Job! Visit to discover how to break into the career of your dreams.

by Tag and Catherine Goulet:
Sisters Tag and Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded, a publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured giving career advice in media from ABC to and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal online, and their career advice appears frequently on the career pages at and They are authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break into a Fab Job! Visit to discover how to break into a dream career.

Discover Your Dream Career and How to Quickly Break In! is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).

FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.

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