Finding a job right now is about as easy as picking roses in the desert. Oh sure, there might be one or two out there, but chances are someone got the jump on you and found them first.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – to find a job, that is. One of the ways people increase their odds is by pursuing a career change. Although career changes are not for everyone (see last week’s blog About Face Career Changes – Do You Have What it Takes?), expanding your horizons during your job hunt is (at the very least) a great way to improve your interviewing skills. Plus, it provides the perfect excuse to get creative with your resume.

Everyone knows your resume is the first step in getting your foot in the door when applying for a job. However, the number one mistake people make with their resumes is that they assume one size fits all. If you’re looking for work outside of your existing career your old resume will appear as relevant as a bicycle in the Grand Prix. To make sure your resume doesn’t end up in a prospective employer’s “circular file” (a.k.a. the trash can), work backwards by revamping your resume to fit the job you want. Here are four easy steps that show you how:

1. Out With the Old, In With the New

Whether you’re pursuing a career change or not, your old resume probably won’t get you hired. Why? Because traditional resumes focus on previous work as opposed to your abilities. In this economy employers can’t afford to spend a lot of time and money training new hires. You’re more apt to get the job if your new boss knows you won’t sink if he immediately throws you into the deep end.

Even if you think your old resume is the best thing to hit the business world since Donald Trump, start over. Pick a resume format that emphasizes talent over business titles, allowing you to focus on the skill sets you have to successfully make the leap to a new career.

2. Lead With Your Strong Suit

If you haven’t previously worked in the industry to which you want to move, start your resume with the qualifications you possess that are relevant to your new career. Quite often previous jobs provide experience that can be applied to completely unrelated jobs. For example, if you were in sales, you probably have the public speaking and people skills required to become a tour guide. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to show how your existing skill set benefits your new career. Save the list of your previous employers for the end of your resume AFTER your prospective boss has had a chance to read all about your invaluable talents.

3. Be (the) “Objective”

If you want to cut to the chase, start your resume with a clear objective. This tells your prospective employer exactly what you want out of a new career, and what you expect to accomplish. Plus, it gives you a jumping off point in an interview to explain why you want to make a change in the first place. It also shows your interviewer that you’re thinking about the future and that you have goals. However, let your interviewer know that you’re flexible and that your objective is simply a guideline to help you get started.

4. Sometimes Less is More

If your career change is so drastic you just can’t see a way around a reasonable, new resume, consider sending a resume letter instead. A resume letter allows you to describe your skills and previous job experience in a narrative form, letting your personality shine through more than a resume would. Plus, a letter allows you to emphasize your passion and motivation for your new career, whereas a resume tends to highlight your lack of direct experience.

If you opt for the resume letter, limit it to one page, but make sure you include your objective and best skills up front, and always end the letter with a request for an interview. Even though you are NOT including a resume, make sure you have one ready for when they eventually ask for it.

Looking for a job is always stressful; switching careers can be even scarier. Stack the deck in your favor by customizing your resume to fit the job you want. Regardless of your long-term goals you NEVER want to sell yourself short when it comes to your career.

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