Some folks think job searching is just like winning a lottery; they really do. While lottery winners play the same numbers week after week, month after month, the job seekers send out the same resume week after week, month after month. For the vast majority of people in both cases, the results are exactly the same; no winnings. You’d think that both lottery players and job seekers would look at their overall results and change their behaviour, but as it turns out, lottery players continue to lose and play, and job seekers continue to churn out the same resumes day after day.
If you are smart enough to already know that you need a unique resume for each and every job you apply to, please spread the word not once, but often. This shouldn’t be a little-known secret but a common practice, and yet, I still run into people all the time who out of ignorance are mass producing their resumes and handing the same one out.
I’m not even sure I can say that most of us get it. I was dismayed just yesterday reading a response to an article from someone who called themselves a resume writing wizard. In attempting to agree with the need for job-specific resumes, they were extolling the fact that they supply their clients with one resume for each type of job they are looking for. I had to read that twice to make sure I hadn’t misread their comment. Sadly I got it right on the first read. So here was this person handing out three resumes to their clients; multiple copies of each, thinking they’ve got it right; which they don’t.
So I wondered to myself, if this person is spreading this major resume writing error, she can’t be the only one in the industry who isn’t up to speed. Not only that, but the clients the person is working with are confidently job searching handing out generalized resumes when they do see a job they know they are qualified for and are going to be disappointed more often than not. That’s unfortunate don’t you think?
So let’s get a practical example down in print to illustrate this critical need for a single resume for a specific job. So our job seeker is looking for a Personal Support Worker job. The same person has office administration experience and would be willing to work in an office; especially if the position was in the health care industry. So we’ve got an employment goal of both Office Administration and Personal Support Worker. Making a resume for both jobs and sending the person off with 20 copies of the two resumes is not the right thing to do.
If we were to print 4 different postings for a Personal Support Worker and lay them out side by side, we’d note some of the same requirements in each. So some of the things we’d put in our Qualifications section would perhaps remain on our resume – say perhaps the need for a Personal Support Worker Certificate and First Aid training. However, upon examination two jobs require a valid driver’s licence and access to a car, while the other two are long-term residential homes where no travel is required. One specifically uses the term, “residents”, two “clients” and the fourth refers to “people”. The language in each is critical, and how you refer to these people in your application is equally critical. Further, two jobs require 3 years’ experience, two require rotating shift work including weekends and holidays, and two mention experience with people having dementia would be an asset.
In order to be among the very best qualified on paper and get to the interview stage, this person would be wise to have not one resume for a Personal Support Worker, but 4 resumes in total, each one different from the others because each one responds specifically to the stated needs of the employer. One resume for one job.
If you fail to take this critical step in the application process, you’re experience in looking for work is likely that you feel qualified for jobs you apply to but aren’t getting results. You get discouraged; spend far too much time re-printing resumes, and your discouragement risks slipping to anxiety and depression.
In the example above, it’s important not to overlook the job titles. Suppose one of the jobs was indeed Personal Support Worker, but another was Health Care Aide, Personal Care Attendant, and the last Home Care Support Worker. Don’t shrug your shoulders and say, “It’s okay, it all means the same thing.” That’s laziness talking and you need to snuff it out. “If you can’t be bothered even getting the name of the job right you are applying for, you probably won’t be bothered putting in the care needed for our clients, residents, mother or people”; says the employer to themselves as they reject your resume without even getting past the title at the top of your resume.
Too much work to a new resume for each job you apply to? How is your present strategy working? If you’re not getting interviews for jobs you really want and are really qualified for, it’s likely your resume isn’t responding to the individual needs of employers.
If you want to play the employment lottery, you need to change up your resume to be a winner; and this is how you increase your odds of winning.