How to Make Irrelevant Experience Seem Relevant on Resumes

How to Make Irrelevant Experience Seem Relevant on Resumes

If you were a Senior Project Manager in a financial company, you may have a problem applying for work as a Senior Project Manager in a different industry. Why is this so, especially if you can do the work? You did not know how to make your irrelevant experience seem relevant on your resume.

Different industries come with different personalities and required industry knowledge. But there is a way to make your previous experience seem relevant for the new industry you want to penetrate. Here are ways to do it.

1. Study job descriptions for keywords

Do not freak out at job descriptions that leave you feeling unqualified. Read through the job descriptions for jobs you want, carefully.

Next, pick out all of the responsibilities of the position and all core skills required. Once you have targeted similar keywords that are shared between industries, you can begin to tailor your resume properly.

To give you an example, a person who worked as a “Talent Agent” in entertainment may have some idea as to how a “Talent Acquisition Manager” works in a corporation. They use similar keywords to describe what they do. The people involved, however, are very different.

2. Think outside the box for job titles

Do not get caught off guard if the job titles you once had do not exist when entering another industry. Instead, take a look at all the job experience you have had to date. Focus on the duties involved in these jobs without the job titles. Job titles are labels placed on people for work they do in an industry, but you should not let them limit your career growth.

Take your previous duties and search for the job titles in your new industry in which such duties are performed. For example, if you were an office manager at one point you may have the skills required to be an operations manager.

Perhaps, you worked in Quality Assurance for a website and much of your work involved screening web content. At some point, this position involved screening the content on social media accounts to the point where you actually started managing social media. There are several job titles involved in what you did (social media manager, copy editor, reputation manager etc). Forget job titles. Job titles do not describe what you did and achieved.

3. Focus on solutions and achievements

In today’s world, learning new skills can happen at a much lower cost and shorter period of time so much that companies may hire for “ability to execute”, first. It is easy to know "what to do”, but do you know “how to do it”?

For your resume, it would serve you better to show quantifiable achievements that display your ability to execute plans. Your resume should show that you know how to follow through and get results.

Show what problems you solved, not just the problems you were smart enough to discover. Anyone can point fingers and assign blame. Show that you can fix problems you discovered. List out the impressive solutions and results to problems you discovered.

4. Create a career highlights section

Using a sample from a Find My Profession client in which they created a career highlights section:


➢  Successfully solicited eBay and PayPal to present benefits of’s innovative SaaS solution and secured strategic partnerships with both prior to product launch.

➢  Invited by the supervisor at JP Morgan to move to Moscow and assist in building-out the Russia/CIS practice beyond natural resources (oil & gas, metals, etc.).

➢  Played a key role in winning all IPO and M&A mandates, making JP Morgan “the” transport and infrastructure team in the region.

This client has worked globally and with both financial and tech companies. Her highlights show that she has executed and was a trusted member of a major company. These highlights can be considered both relevant and impressive.

5. Remove any doubt or confusion

When it comes down to making your resume relevant, especially if you’re changing industries or had changed industries in the past, do your best to connect the dots for the hiring manager or recruiter.

Recruiters and hiring managers are not in the position of figuring out why you are relevant. If you do not connect all the dots for them, they will just figure your qualifications are not a good fit. This requires heavy tailoring of your resume.

List every single accomplishment you can and how it connects to the job you are applying for. The easier you make this for others reading your resume, the more likely you are to get invited for an interview.

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