Do You Really Need a Different Resume for Each Job?

by Smith-Proulx, Laura Thursday, September 11, 2008
Contact Us
Yonkers, NY
phone: 212-269-4300
800-984-3775
Send email
About Us
You’ve probably heard that employers expect to see an exact match to their skills on your resume, and that you should be tailoring your resume to each job. But, you might think—if I do that, I'll be writing forever!

Of course, there’s a point to customizing your resume to meet the needs of employers. A resume in today’s competitive market must deliver a clear message in order to be effective. However, this doesn't mean that every resume you send must be a completely different version.

If you’re unsure of the actual breaking point between one resume and another, here are three ways to tell if you’ll need an encore version:

1) Your skills aren’t focused on one main career goal.
My clients often find that they can target one particular job type by showing strengths for that role. If they wish to pursue a similar position, I recommend that they change a few words here and there.

However, if they focus on an entirely DIFFERENT job type, that's another matter. It's hard to convince employers of your business development skills, for example, if your resume is centered around your expertise in operations management.

By the same token, if you see yourself with a “fallback” option of sales management, but you’d really rather be a strong individual sales performer, it’s best to divide these goals into two resumes to clarify things for employers.

2) Your credentials are SO broad that your resume goes on forever.
If your resume gives hiring authorities too much to read (especially if there’s too many interesting items to look at), it’s time to narrow your focus.

Proving your fitness for a particular job is a matter of tuning the text around WHY you’re qualified, and then backing up your story with achievements and other examples.

3) Tweaking your resume for each job application requires a major rewrite.
If you can’t reasonably dedicate your qualifications profile or summary to one suite of skills, then you should separate out your career goals—and your resume versions.

This may involve extra effort on your part, including additional keyword research and a different presentation, but the end results will be worth it.

Remember, recruiters have enough resumes to read without getting confused by what you want to do! Zeroing in on your specific, measurable credentials allows you to quickly convey why you are qualified, eliminates the potential for confusion, and gets your resume noticed much faster.