Last week, I led a webinar on basic resume writing for a local career group. The first question a jobseeker posed is one I’ve heard many times—“do I need a different resume for each job target?” And a related question I get from time-to-time is “do I need a job target?”
The short answer is yes for both questions. You need a job target, and your resume should focus on that job target. Additionally, you should have more than one resume when you have to address more than one job target.
Here are some reasons to focus on a job target when you prepare a resume:
- Employers do not fill “any job,”
- The job target will focus your search, and
- A resume should demonstrate the benefits of hiring you to do a specific job.
You will probably think of more reasons to target a specific job as you work through the job search and career planning process. These three points are intended to jumpstart your thinking.
Employers do not fill “any job.”
Jobseekers often tell me “I just need a job.” New grads have parents that tell them to “get a job.” Experienced workers who have been downsized need to support families. Spouses ask me “can you fix this resume so (blank) will get a job?”
The answer is “no, I cannot fix the resume so they will get a job.” The reason, in part, is that I need to know what their job target is and why they qualify. (And I work directly with jobseekers, not parents, spouses, or others, because only the jobseeker knows their accomplishments well enough.)
Employers have specific business challenges they need or want to address. They need an engineer, fashion designer, or other expert to design and build a new product. Or they need customer service representatives to help buyers use their product or service. And they need to know about the skill, experience, and education that will allow you to meet their needs. They don’t need someone that says they can do “anything” or “any job” because they need a paycheck.
A job target focuses your job search.
Where would you look for “any job?” You can probably leave the job title field blank on many job search sites and get pages upon pages of results. But few, if any, of the leads will be in your commuting area or match your skillset. You can search for any job in your local area and get slightly better results, but most of the jobs will still not match your skills, experience, and education. Narrowing a search to jobs in your local area without specifying the job you want and the jobs you are qualified to fill will still get many useless results.
Your search will be more practical when you specify the title of the job you want. And if the job search website you are using allows you to specify years of experience, you may get even better matches.
Many jobs are never posted online. That means you will have to seek out people in your network or people they know to find these jobs. This makes it even more important to focus your search on a job target because your contact won’t know what business opportunities you can address unless you tell them.
In other words, it is important to select a job target whether your search is concentrated online, or you search primarily through networking with other people.
A resume should demonstrate the benefits of hiring you for a specific job.
Resumes that do not specify a job target are ineffective. For example, I have had clients who are qualified for work in vastly different fields, such as engineering and law. An entrepreneur or senior leader seeking engineers will look for very different skills and experience than the partner in a law firm seeking attorneys. It is possible, of course, to show both fields on the same resume so automated searches in both fields may pick it up. But leaders in either field would probably see the jobseeker as not being committed to either career, or as someone that is unlikely to stay at the job.
The client got results by collaborating with us on a resume focused on the work he truly loved–engineering. Then, we were able to concentrate on expertise in specialized software for drones, rather than on his ability to build and use legal databases.
Kate Wendleton, a well-known career coach said in one of her books, “if your job target is wrong—or non-existent—everything is wrong.” Marketers would probably say you have to know what service you are marketing in order to target your ideal customers—employers. No matter how you look at it, you will get better results when you start with a job target.