You’ve decided to make the leap and take your career in a different direction. Maybe this meant going back to school, volunteering, or leveraging your connections to get your foot in the door. But when it comes to updating your resume, what do you do with all of the previous work experience you have that isn’t necessarily related?
Deleting it all and starting fresh isn’t quite the answer.
There are several ways that you can handle past jobs while still supporting your efforts to advance in your new career path. It all depends on your experience and what you have to work with.
Create a “Highlighted Experience” section. Are you shifting back into a field you previously worked in? Or have you volunteered doing similar work? Call out these positions so an employer can see relevant work upfront. Don’t forget to show any achievements or skills gained.
Consolidate your experience. If you’ve shifted into a new role and are working to advance your career, it’s okay to pare down older experience. Elaborate on your most recent role(s) in your new field and only include key points of work from your previous career, or simply list the company, your position, and the years you worked there. This shows that you do have a solid work history but does not waste valuable space on non-relevant experiences.
Rework your experience. If you’re just trying to get your foot in the door in a new field, you may have to keep your previous experience. However, you can revise what information you emphasize and how you frame your accomplishments. Try to draw on the most transferable skills that would help to show why you’d be a good fit in your next role and what you have to offer. You can cut information that doesn’t have much value in supporting your candidacy and beef up bullet points that do – without lying or over-embellishing of course.
It can be helpful to talk through your work experience with a friend or family member. They may see things from a different perspective and be able to help you to better connect the dots between what you were doing and what you want to be doing now. Seek their input on how to rework your information to be more engaging and relevant for the type of job you’re pursuing.
Also, continue to build your skills and experience through volunteering, professional development courses, additional certifications or training, and joining professional organizations. This will allow you to add more accomplishments and experience as you go and show that you’re actively engaged in the field and furthering your knowledge.