Career Corner
Home > Career Corner: Resumes > Saying No to the All-Purpose Resume: Why You Need Separate Resumes For Different Jobs

Saying No to the All-Purpose Resume: Why You Need Separate Resumes For Different Jobs

For most of us, it’s important to "keep it simple" and not overcomplicate things. That’s why we understand the reason some Pongo members who are seeking positions in two different industries may want to use just one resume. They have experience in the two areas and want to present their entire professional career, providing all the highlights of their multi-faceted background. But, while it may seem logical that doing this and demonstrating job diversity would impress an employer, it can actually make them question your focus and intentions.

If you are a savvy job seeker, you know that even though you start with a single resume, it should be customized for each specific position you apply to in order to match the employer’s unique requirements. That typically involves making just tweaks in the resume, either by adding, removing or changing small pieces of information. When you are pursuing a position in a different industry or type of job, you want to create a distinctly different resume, making changes across most of the content so it is geared to that other type of job. 

For example, let's say a job seeker has a 20-year job history that primarily includes positions as an accountant. Earlier in their professional career and during random periods, this person had brief stints as a journalist, a job they enjoyed. Using one “all-purpose” resume to apply to both types of jobs (accounting and journalist) instead of creating two separate resumes is not going to be effective. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Employers will have to dig through the resume to find the strengths that are relevant to the position they have open. They want to know what you can bring to the job, so all those qualities should be very apparent. Employers don’t want to read about an irrelevant set of strengths that would only be of interest to employers filling the other type of job.
  2. Your one-size-fits-all resume will be viewed as too generic and lacking in focus. It’s important that your resume target each employer’s requirements as well as each job’s. Going back to our example, it makes sense that the needs of an accounting firm are going to be vastly different from those of a publication. That’s why the job seeker will want to submit a resume that is laser-focused on the needs of that employer. 
  3. If Employers are seeing so much information on your resume, they’ll become frustrated because they can’t immediately find what they need to make a decision on you. They won’t be able to determine if you are actually good at the job they want you to perform or, more importantly, the right fit for their company. They receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes in response to their job listings and want to review and make decisions on them quickly. If you make that difficult for them, your resume may just end up in the rejection pile.
  4. You don’t want employers to wonder where your true passion lies. You want them to think you are only interested in the type of work you are pursuing with them. Don’t allow them to wonder if you might prefer the other type of job.
  5. Every industry has its own terminology, so if you are using terms or acronyms in your resume that are from different types of jobs, the employer is going to be scratching their head. Each resume you send to an employer should only include language they understand as well as language that is meaningful to them.
  6. The same goes for your use of keywords in your resume that match the employer's job posting. By using focused keywords, you will help your resume rank higher with Applicant Tracking Systems during the employer’s resume screening process.

A prospective employer wants to know that you really want the job you are pursuing and that you want it with them. By presenting them with an “all-purpose” resume, they may classify you as someone who is just "looking for a job" and isn’t 100 percent committed to the job they have posted. No matter how qualified you are, your resume may be passed over because it doesn’t target the specific needs and requirements of that job and the company. The competition can be stiff out there - other candidates who submit focused resumes will be given priority.

By having separate resumes for the different jobs you are pursuing - one for each area of specialization - you’ll have resumes that are not only focused, but a great deal more effective. Your resumes will best represent you as a match for the company and job you are pursuing and boost your chances of landing an interview. As a plus, you will actually be keeping your resumes - and your job search - very simple.

Critique Your Resume Like a Hiring Manager
How Do I Make My Resume Stand Out?
Hiring Managers Look for Related Experience First

Ready To Jump Start Your Job Search?
Looking for Help with Your Job Search?
Pongo has been helping Job Seekers for over 10 years. If you think our articles are great, try our Resume Builder, Letter Builder and Exclusive Interview Strategy Videos! Our easy-to-use tools and expert advice have helped over 70% of our Members get the job they want! Learn More »
Like what you see?
Join over 4.6 million Pongo Members — and let us help you land your dream job.
Pongo Raves
Hear What Our Customers Are Saying
Deanna, Shari, Mark and Anthony talk about their job search challenges and how Pongo helped them get the jobs that changed their lives.
Learn More About Pongo
More Success Stories