Catherine Jewell: New Resume New Career - Author interview

Career coach, and founder and owner of The Career Passion™ Coach, Catherine Jewell, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about her very practical and action oriented book New Resume New Career: Get the Job You Want with the Skills and Experience You Already Have. The author describes how to create a resume that will land an interview and a job in the same industry, or even in a different industry entirely.

Thanks to Catherine Jewell for her time and for her very informative and comprehensive responses. They are greatly appreciated.

What was the background to writing this book New Resume New Career?

Catherine Jewell: The downturn in the economy has left many job seekers high and dry. Manufacturing jobs have been off-shored for good. Many positions have simply been eliminated—and may never come back in their former state. Very few job seekers have the time or the funds to retrain for new careers. Many job applicants are also feeling they want a new challenge, and a fresh start with a different career. This book is designed to help people find jobs they love with the skills and experience they already have. The economy provided the perfect storm; my work with clients provided the 50 case studies in the book to bring hope to today’s career changers.

With the economic downturn, and a tough job market, how important is career flexibility to moving to a new industry?

Catherine Jewell: The days of the 40-year career with one company are long gone. Instead of a gold watch, today’s workers can expect a pink slip—even if they are model employees. We all have to be flexible and realize we are free agents. We don’t work for companies anymore—we need to work for ourselves, trimming our sails and going where the winds of business are blowing. The easiest career switch is to a new industry—it simply means putting your functional skills to work in a new environment.

The good news is that most businesses have similar functions—marketing, product or service delivery, customer service, human resources, sales, accounting, etc. My book, New Resume New Career, discusses the challenges of switching industries, switching functions, or switching both. (Yikes.) My experience with more than 600 career changers is that people generally fall into those categories—one-third, one-third, one-third. The more seasoned the worker, the more likely they are to make a more dramatic switch.

Many people are afraid that if they change careers that that their overall career path will be derailed. Is this the case any longer?

Catherine Jewell: Hardly. If you stay in the same functional area (sales, marketing, customer service, HR, accounting) you can show a consistent career path in your area of expertise. Some employers are welcoming workers from other industries because they have “new” ideas to share. For example, one of my clients switched from international consulting in the High Tech industry to marketing in the Healthcare Industry. The hospital executives who interviewed her were fascinated with her “fresh” approach to marketing to physicians. She was simply bringing the lessons learned in consulting to a new environment.

That said, there can be a short “adjustment” time when career changers have to accept slightly lower pay until they can prove themselves in the new environment. I advise my clients to go for a lateral (same pay scale) move when changing careers. If they have to take 10-20% less in a career change, that is generally an acceptable trade-off because the new career is exciting, energizing, and usually more satisfying. That kind of a financial hit can easily be made up in a year or two of great performance.

Is it really possible to transition successfully from one industry to another completely unrelated industry?

Catherine Jewell: It’s been done — that’s why I featured 50 real-life career changers in my book. I wanted people to see that the leap makes sense when you understand the person and their experiences, skills, and desires. Look for shifts that are logical for you. Computer Chip manufacturing and Solar Panels use some of the same technology, so that’s a natural change. A change to Healthcare might require Medical Terminology courses, but those are often available at community colleges and for a fairly low investment of dollars and time. Of course, it’s best to keep the change as small as possible – it’s easier to go from a hospital to a nursing home than it is to go from a retail store to a nursing home. But, hey, if people want that kind of change, it’s possible and even invigorating.

One client went from software to calendar publishing, and from sales to training. He found his new function was a life-long dream—to train and mentor. His new role made him so happy that learning the calendar business was a breeze. He accepted a decrease in pay initially, but he was glad to take it to keep the family going. Just one year later, he was promoted to a management position and had nearly recaptured his “old” salary. He went from demoralized salesperson to energized manager in just 24 months. Not a bad story for 2008-2010.

Is it also possible to make a career change within the same industry from one job function to another?

Catherine Jewell: The functional switch is generally harder to do. Many people do this when they finish an MBA program or other educational goals. I have seen people move from customer service into finance when they finished their accounting bachelor’s degree. Another example is moving from a technical role such as engineering to project management. Most of the job creation in the last few years has been in the 2-year degree job arena, and in jobs that require certificates (such as Human Resource Professional and Project Management Professional). Job seekers who want to switch functions should seriously look into retraining dollars—grants and loans—that might be available from the Federal government or state workforce agencies.

Catherine Jewell (photo left)

How critical is creating the right resume to ensure a smooth and successful transition to another industry or job function?

Catherine Jewell: Like it or not, the resume is your calling card — it is the document that gets you the interview. The resume has to sell your skills and experience as they relate to the job you are seeking. You must have a resume that speaks to the job requirements. That’s why it so important to completely rewrite your resume if you expect to change careers. Many job seekers have two or three versions, depending on the job they are seeking.

In the book, you suggest separating the job from work. What do you mean by that?

Catherine Jewell: People who have lost jobs through no fault of their own often feel bitter and demoralized. They tell themselves, “I’ll NEVER do that job again.” It’s important to think about the work you did, and what activities you really enjoyed. That’s what you take with you to your next career. Mostly, people are demoralized by the job conditions, not the work itself. So, instead of throwing all of it out—take a look at the work and what you enjoyed about it.

For example, a mortgage originator found that she hated the corporate bureaucracy, her unavailable boss, the picky and difficult mortgage processor, the low commissions, the long work hours, and the bank politics. Those were all job conditions. She loved meeting with prospects, solving difficult problems, researching details, creating special deals, and helping people buy homes. She didn’t need new work, she needed a new job!

How can a person assess their transferable skills and place them in resume form effectively?

Catherine Jewell: A great place to start is your former job description. That document is filled with –ing verbs – Writing, Managing, Budgeting, Supervising, Creating, Presenting, Selling, Negotiating, Developing, etc. Those are the job skills that you have picked up and honed as a part of your career. Those 10-15 skills will serve you well in another job. I often put a table at the top of a resume that says “Core Competencies.” This is a quick and easy way to communicate your strengths. My book, New Resume New Career includes an appendix of the 400+ transferable skills mentioned in the book’s 50 resume makeovers.

How can a resume sell the job applicant to get that all important interview?

Catherine Jewell: The ONLY thing that will sell the applicant is proof that you are a match for the job. The resume has to show that you have what it takes. The closer the match, the more highly you will be regarded as a potential employee.

Is there any one right type of resume or should the job seeker be flexible as to resume format?

Catherine Jewell: There are so many great formats out there. Pick and choose elements that tell your story in the best way. I do recommend what I call the Resume Billboard™ on all resumes. This is a special section at the top of the first page that summarizes your key skills and achievements. It’s the most important 100 words of your resume—a mini billboard selling you.

Many people will offer advice to the employment seeker that may be intended to help but may not be useful. How should a person react to this advice?

Catherine Jewell: My mother always told us, “Consider the source.” If your aunt Ellen is an English professor and notices a wrong word choice, pay attention. If she knows nothing about business and starts to tell you how to describe your achievements, think again. Seek out opinions from hiring managers, or at least professionals in the same line of business. Listen, thank people for their help, use what’s helpful, and discard the rest. Constant tinkering with your resume will make you nuts.

What one piece of advice should every job seeker remember?

Catherine Jewell: Networking will generate job leads. A great resume will get you the interview. A great interview will generate an offer. It’s not rocket science, but you have to be consistently professional in your job search.

What is next for Catherine Jewell?

Catherine Jewell: I’m likely to be the keynote speaker at your next professional association meeting or convention. Everyone — employed or seeking — needs to become a master at managing their own career. We are all free agents. Our career growth and development is up to us. Finding and expressing your Career Passion® is everyone’s job 1. Just when we least expect it, any one of us could need a New Resume and a New Career.


My book review of New Resume New Career: Get the Job You Want with the Skills and Experience You Already Have by Catherine Jewell.

Catherine Jewell is on a personal quest to help everyone find perfect work. She is the Career Passion® Coach and author of New Resume New Career, a resume makeover book featuring 50 real-life career changers. For more than 25 years, she has studied the phenomena of career planning and has coached more than 600 adults through mid-life career changes. Catherine speaks at conferences about Career Passion® and provides resume writing, career testing, group tele-classes, and coaching for job seekers around the nation. Her new book is available on Amazon.com and in book stores now. For more information, check out www.CareerPassionCoach.com or contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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