Target-Job Focused Resume Problems: What To Do When You Have Multiple Job Options. One in a series.

“I’ve always been successful with whatever has been thrown at me. How do I take all my varied skills and combine them into a job title that works and provides me with the most employer connections?“ Karen W., Ohio.

First of all the writer recognizes the performance benefits of a target-job focused resume that works so well in today’s resume database dominated world, and she is also one of the many job hunters for whom this causes problems and confusion.

The most productive resumes used on a job search today aren’t biographies of all you have done; they are documents designed to be found and retrieved from the vast commercial resume databases that epitomize a new and more complex world of job search. The resume that gets pulled most frequently from resume databases, for review by recruiters, focuses on the skills and experience demanded by one specific job.


So an approach that focuses the resume on one specific job can work extremely well. Especially for people who have worked for companies that maintain clearly defined job titles and responsibilities. This is the type of employment typically experienced when working for larger, mature and well-organized companies, usually with influential HR functions (we’ll handle the issues raised by working in small company environments shortly).

Over time in more structured, professional workplaces, it is likely you will move through different jobs and develop an increasingly diverse range of skills sets. This is common because upward mobility is never linear and has to be pursued by parallel moves that are made to increase skills rather than title, level or grade, while also contributing to positioning for subsequent moves.

When the time comes to change jobs, the average professional with seven years or more professional experience has often has held two or more related but different job titles, or has developed a diverse set of skills that can be combined into two or more different job title.

When there are a number of different job you can do.

You cannot get away with a single resume that is essentially a biography of all you have done in your professional life. A resume aimed to cover all eventualities is like one-size-fits-all clothing, the one-size-fits-all resume satisfies no one. Yes, it shows you have a lot of experience, many different skills and can do a lot of “stuff” but it is unfocused and unfailingly confused with detail. Harried and distracted recruiters just don’t care, they are focused on finding someone who can do one specific job, the one they have to fill today, as quickly as possible.

A general/biographical resume either won’t get pulled from the resume database in the first place, or if it does, the lack of focus will cause the recruiter to quickly move onto one of the many other resumes that do have a clear job focus.

Your resume is an integral part of your professional success story and there are no shortcuts for creating a business-like resume in this fiercely competitive world.  If there is more than one job you want to pursue, you will need more than one resume. Before you start whining, just remember that your resume is the most financially important document you will ever own: when it works you work, when it doesn’t you don’t.

When you have multiple options, make a list of the jobs you can do and then prioritize them based on your needs. For example, if getting back to work and the paychecks rolling again is the top priority, your #1 job will be the one that you can make the strongest argument for “on paper,” at the job interview, and the one where you are most likely to hit the ground running…without tripping over your shoelaces. This choice will become your prime resume, from which other resumes, for other jobs, will grow.

You will have to create an additional resume for that second job you can do. This isn’t as scary as you might think, because the second job almost certainly has a number of skills and experiences that are the same and/or related to those in your prime resume. Besides, all the employers, dates and formal structure of the resume will already be in place.

Simply make a copy of the prime resume and save it under the new job title. You can then complete the second resume in two steps

  1. Collect six job postings for this job, and complete a Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) exercise to understand exactly how employers prioritize and think about the responsibilities of this job. This TJD exercise should of course first be used to maximize your prime resume.
  2. Review the existing resume, striking out whatever doesn’t apply and replacing these areas with details of those of your skills and experiences that do apply.

You can repeat this process for any additional jobs for which you need to create a tailored resume. Later this week, I’ll handle what to do when you have a diverse set of skills that can be combined into two or more job titles that you might not formally have held.

Join Martin every week to learn more about writing a killer resume, getting more job interviews and turning job interviews into job offers at his free weekly webcast, Mondays at noon central. Details: http://my.knockemdead.com

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