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Multiple resumes, if you only have one, don’t expect results

Multiple resumes

She knows that one pair of shoes won’t cover every event

Why do you need multiple resumes?

You hear it all the time. Multiple resumes! It is common knowledge that you should tailor your resume for every different position you are applying to. That being said, I don’t think that candidates understand the full gravity of this concept or the consequences of what happens when they apply for multiple positions with a single version of their resume. If you have applied for 20 different jobs, you should have used 20 different resumes.

Using a single resume to apply for multiple jobs is the equivalent of using a single pair of shoes for every wardrobe change regardless of the occasion. All shoes may hide your corns and ingrown nails, but a single pair of shoes is not going to make the transition from the office to the gym to a happy hour.

A single resume cannot effectively represent your skill set to multiple positions because every company and every position is different. This is why you need multiple resumes. For those of you thinking you tweaked a few bullet points or rearranged the order of a few accomplishments, think again because that isn’t what is going to lead to an interview. This is the equivalent of a single bow vs. a double bow on your kicks and thinking it will take you from day to the night.

Too often I see resumes that cover an applicants ENTIRE work history regardless of relevance.  This can work as long as the individual bullet points are directly related to the position being applied for. When work history and bullet points are unrelated to the position, this is the first clue that the candidate isn’t tailoring their resume to the individual. It is also an indication that their work will lack strategic thinking.

Listing all of your work histories is the equivalent of rotating your ENTIRE collection of shoes through a single social event. Wearing your running shoes to the black-tie event isn’t appropriate.  And although you will probably come up with some black patent loafers/heels in your rotation, the rest of the collection isn’t applicable and will look out-of-place. Make sure your resume is being represented by the appropriate footwear.

  • If you are overqualified for one job and under qualified for the next, you need multiple resumes.
  • Entry level customer service vs. entry-level account manager? Multiple resumes.
  • Large company analyst looking to work across multiple teams vs. a small company analyst looking to work with Sr. Management?  Multiple resumes.

I occasionally help folks with their job searches and their resumes. I always ask for a specific job description of interest and a few questions up front:

  • What are the first three bullet points listed in the job description of choice?
  • What are the first few bullet points listed in the job requirements of choice?

The answers to these questions are going us to dial in the resume to a specific job. Our accomplishments on the resume are going to echo these bullets.

I ask candidates to create 2 resumes. A Master resume listing every accomplishment for every job they have ever held going back 10 years if needed. This is a very long document and is NOT designed for public use.  For me, this document serves two purposes.  This is a confidence building exercise and a data warehouse of accomplishments. The Master will be a work in progress that stays with the individual. The second will be disposable – a one time use resume and the one that is submitted to the desired company.

This second resume will pull specific experience and bullets that are directly applicable to the desired position. These bullets will not be plagiarized from the Master, but will be tweaked to match the first 3-4 bullet points listed in the specific job description and will echo the entire job description.  The first three to four bullets are usually the most important and the differentiators.  Match these and you have a shot.

All too often I receive a resume that indicates there is the relevant experience but it isn’t a finished product. It “almost” fits and I know that 15 minutes of edits could have moved that resume forward. The more positions you apply to, the odds increase that your single resume and cover letter will be a good fit for ONE of those positions, but a round peg in a square hole is not going to get the job done.

If you play tennis or golf you will have a number of different racquets and clubs for different “applications”. I like to fish and I use a different rod for little trout and a different rod for salmon and steelhead. I use a different rod when fishing for trout in a lake and another one for fishing in a little river.  See where I am going with this?

A game of golf will incorporate the use of 4 or 5 different clubs in a single game, maybe more.  Each shot will require a different stroke with a different club. You will use a driver at the T and you will use a putter on the green and based on the distance different these two points a few more clubs in between.


As we get serious with our after hour activities, we pay attention to these details and spend extra time and money on the appropriate accouterments for our hobbies. Shouldn’t we spend the extra time and money on what is going to ultimately finance these spare time hobbies and ultimately mean more shoes, and more golf clubs?

I see this “same resume” attitude being submitted for positions at all levels.  If you have just graduated from school you are probably applying for a lot of relatively different jobs.  You may be applying for an account manager one week, a customer service representative the next, and an entry-level analyst the next.  Using the same resume to apply for these three positions isn’t going to work.

If you are a candidate with 10 to 15 years of experience, you are probably relatively established in a field or industry but the cultures and the jobs are still different.  A Sr. Analyst at Acme Publishing isn’t a Sr. Analyst at Ace Publishing. Using the same resume to apply for both positions isn’t going to work.  Multiple resumes are a must.

If you have been sending out a lot of resumes with no response and getting discouraged, it may not be your skill set.  You may be trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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