Roger Willco (not a real person) says “I have experience as an underwriter, a financial analyst and an executive assistant. I’m not sure which direction I’m going now, so I need a resume that can work for all these jobs.”
“I need a job as soon as possible, so I want to be flexible.”
The thinking almost makes sense: Being open to a wider range of possibilities increases your chances, right? Wouldn’t a multi-goal job search give you more ways to succeed?
Usually the result is just the opposite. If your resume looks unfocused, the employer may have trouble picturing you in the role they’re hiring for, or may doubt your commitment to that specific job – leading to fewer opportunities, not more.
This is especially true when applying to jobs online, where you are competing with hundreds of other applicants. The more candidates, the more your resume needs to point straight at the job, like an arrow landing in the bull’s-eye of a target.
Roger will find a job faster if he narrows his search down to one type of job: the one that fits him best and/or is in strong demand by employers, and prepare an effective, focused resume. Or, if he can at least narrow it down to two target job titles, to prepare two different versions of the resume. That approach can be tricky, though. Some job seekers have found that both versions turned up on the same hiring manager’s desk – or in an Internet search – making a very inconsistent first impression!
Another danger of the “multiple resumes” approach is spreading yourself too thin. If you have two types of job you’re pursuing, how much energy and commitment can you put into pursuing each one? And how will you brand yourself on LinkedIn?
If you’re not getting interviews, a buckshot approach is not the answer. Step back and rethink not only your resume but your overall strategy. For example, if you’re spending more than a quarter of your job search time answering online postings, you probably need to do far more networking.
Usually the answer isn’t multiple goals, but a well targeted resume and a comprehensive job search strategy.
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.