If there are a few careers you are interested in transitioning to from your current career, you will need to choose one.
A headline caught my eye in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Getting ready for discharge”. “Laura”, leaving the US Army Reserves and a civilian government job to enter the civilian sector, wanted advice on how to structure her resume if she has three different focus areas.
The author, a long-time employment columnist, advised Laura to prepare three different resumes that each focus on one of the areas. She said, “Strategically tailor the content in the way in which it best supports your candidacy today.”
I get this kind of question all the time. Many people seeking to transition from one thing to another wonder how to package their background to support their search for a different career. It is fine to have several versions of your resume, each tailored strategically to highlight the accomplishments that support your candidacy.
But what about LinkedIn?
You can get a job without a resume but you cannot get a job without a solid social media profile.
Laura wants to work in logistics, human resources and public relations. How will three different resumes help Laura get a job in any of these unrelated fields if she can only have one LinkedIn profile? How do you create one LinkedIn profile that supports three different career paths?
Imagine the LinkedIn headline: “Logistics | Human Resources | Public Relations”. The viewer will wonder how these three very different areas are related. Which does she prefer? How can I utilize her skills in human resources if she really wants to be in logistics?
Think no one will check her LinkedIn profile? Guess again. Your social media profile must support your professional brand. Otherwise you create confusion if your resume is too different from your LinkedIn profile. Hiring managers pass over confusion seeking someone with clear goals and accomplishments that support the target job.
Unfortunately no one will help Laura (or you) decide which path to take. I am not saying that one cannot change careers. Only that if you want to change careers you must describe your past experience in terms that make sense for your new career.
If Laura wants Human Resources, then she must describe all her military and civilian government experience in terms that a Human Resource leader will understand. Want logistics? Then describe her background in terms that a Logistics leader will understand. Otherwise it makes no sense to the hiring manager.
Laura has to pick something. At least narrow it down. This starts with research. To understand what these jobs are like, ask people who actually do those jobs. These conversations will either propel Laura towards one field or have her running screaming away from another.
With clear career goals focused around an understandable career path, Laura can craft a resume and social media (LinkedIn) profile that supports her career goals. THEN she can get the job she wants.
If you are struggling to structure your job search materials (resume or LinkedIn) to support your career goals, check out The Interview Doctor’s How to Avoid the Top Five Resume Mistakes.