I was asked a question recently about how to present yourself if you are changing careers. If you have been a technology worker for years and just got your MBA and are looking to move into management, how do you show this on your resume?
It’s easy: multiple resumes.
It’s the same advice I give if you are considering two different types of jobs in your search. I have used this successfully for years, and I the only downside is the time it takes to make a separate resume.
Each resume should be tailored towards a particular position, highlighting those skills that are applicable to that job. A few examples will help explain this.
Becoming a manager
Suppose that you have always worked in subordinate positions in companies and now want to try management. Hopefully you have had some taste of this, practicing in informal managerial roles or unofficial settings. Perhaps as some type of team lead.
When you examine your resume, the work you did to build some piece of software, or erect the frame of a house, or re-wire a circuit isn’t really important. In fact, it can be a detriment because there are many managers that transition into the role and cannot let their old work go. They try to do it all themselves and fail.
Instead, you ought to highlight those unofficial things you have done. Perhaps you helped coordinate work for other people and finish a project on time. Maybe you prepared the material to help your previous manager finish the budget. Your “manager” resume ought to highlight these accomplishments and show that you have some skills, even without much experience, in this position.
Suppose you have been a software developer for years and now want to try being a database administrator. I was in this very position, and tackled this exact problem with a DBA resume that was different from my developer resume.
One of the things I had done was work on the upgrade of the servers and I listed that as something I had accomplished. I worked with another DBA on performance tuning, and I listed a few things I had done, noting that I had done them under the supervision of a senior DBA. It doesn’t make me look like the most qualified person, but it does show I have some knowledge, and I wasn’t bumbling or fumbling around on my own. I had a teacher.
I talked to those things in the interviews I got, and even mentioned them in a couple cover letters. I talked about my software development experience, as it related to the database, not as it solved the problem. My knowledge in solving problems was an aside, or afterthought, but the things I learned about databases while working with data in my application were what I highlighted.
Limit the Number
I know some people might have many resumes, even some specific ones for certain companies. I tried this at one point, but I am not sure it is worth the effort in maintaining them. At most, I might have three resumes right now: DBA, manager, and writer. In the past writer would have been developer or sysadmin, but I only put out resumes for jobs I want to do, and then only the top 2 or 3 positions I’d take.
Life is short. Enjoy it, including your work.