Immigration and Professional Transitions: Rebuilding Your Resume

2014-2015 Issue 2

emilieoption2Keeping your resume up-to-date is a necessity – you never know when you’ll come across a position you cannot pass up. Overhauling your resume completely, however, can be a challenge.

There are many different reasons for taking on this task. You may be pursuing a promotion, looking to transition into a new industry, or starting over with a completely new career. No matter your motivation, even the most experienced job hunter can benefit from some professional resume advice.

Emilie Nketiah, the Career and Transition Advisor at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, is willing to help. “Preparing for a career transition requires both time and effort,” says Emilie. “Starting with a plan can help you build an effective way forward.”

With that in mind, she’s compiled a list of steps to help you get started. The goal is to create a strong resume that reflects what potential employers are looking for. Let’s begin.

1) Take a deep breath

“A career transition requires that you re-write your resume from scratch, and that’s going to take time,” says Emilie. “Take a moment and admit there’s going to be a lot of work involved. It may take two weeks to complete, or it might take much more. That’s OK, but you need to know before you begin.”


2) Take inventory

“This doesn’t mean to start writing your resume,” says Emilie. “It begins with research – research about yourself. Take an inventory of your skills, strengths and weaknesses. The key is making sure it your skillset is marketable, and that it matches the job you want.”


3) Take notice

“Start with job boards,” says Emilie. “Look for at least 10 to 15 postings that you’re interested in. What are they all asking for? What are they not asking for? What education and experience are required, and what’s desired?”

Once that’s done, it’s time to go beyond the job description.


4) Take the show on the road

“You can’t simply rely on a list of bullet points,” explains Emilie. “Start talking to people in the industry.”

If you’re hesitant to do so, remind yourself that all you’re looking for is information. “Tell them, ‘I aspire to follow in your footsteps, would you be willing to share your advice?’ It’s non-threatening, yet you’re building a professional network.” Doing a bit of industry research ahead of time will boost your confidence, and result in a more productive exchange.


5) Take one

It’s at this point that you’re ready to start building a first draft.

Emilie recommends to begin by writing what she refers to as “a master resume.” This includes detailed descriptions of all your experience, including volunteering. Each position should list what you did, how you did it, and what you achieved. “These details are what gives your resume colour. Anyone who reads it can see exactly how you’re using your skills.”


6) Take two

Your master resume is now complete. But it’s still not ready to send to employers. Instead, you’ll create a tailored CV to match every posting.

“When you see a job you like, and they say they want A, B and C, match that list to your inventory. What keywords are they using? Are they focused on hard skills, soft skills, or results? Rest assured that similar positions will likely have similar requirements. And because you prepared in advance, it’s just a matter of copying and pasting. That will save you time.”


These steps are a good start in preparing for a career transition. Additional steps may include investing in professional development courses, polishing your language skills, or attending a career advising workshop led by Emilieat McGill’s School of Continuing Studies.

“Don’t throw a bunch of things on paper and hope something sticks,” she cautions. “Your resume should have one clear message, and it should just get louder.”

McGill University School of Continuing Studies’ Career Advising & Transition Services offers a Newcomers Workshop, a Job Search Series, meet-up events and individual advising services. Please visit for upcoming sessions.

This article is available in Spanish on Noticias Montreal: Inmigración y transición profesional: Rehacer su currículum vítae


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