A reader writes:
I’ve had a few people ask me if I have more than one version of my resume. I have tried to draft completely different versions, but have found it daunting and so have stuck with the same version, save for minor tweaks to the wording of the brief objective statement. I have had difficulty re-imagining old roles and have largely stuck to the specifics of the job, rather than discussing specifically how a particular job relates to the position I’m applying for (especially if it doesn’t). Functional resume efforts seem to become too generic as well.
I’d appreciate any advice you have on how to constructively write different versions of a resume, especially when having to manually enter information on a “Powered by Taleo” site or having to paste a resume into an electronic system that only allows for plan HTML text instead of a PDF attachment that would allow for boldface type and bullet points.
You don’t need to have multiple versions of your resume, but it makes sense to have multiple versions if you’re applying for a few different categories of jobs, because in that case you’d want to emphasize different things. So if, for example, you do both editing and theater work, and you’ve also done some admin work to pay the bills, you might have an Editor resume, an Theater resume, and an Admin resume — each focusing on the relevant skills. But if you’re only applying for editing jobs, then you only need one version.
However, even if you only have one main version of your resume, it still generally makes sense to tweak that main version based on the job you’re applying to. If the job has a heavy emphasis on X, and your resume only mentions X in passing but you actually have more experience with X than you’ve mentioned, then it makes sense to tweak it to better highlight X for that particular job. You probably don’t need to do that for every single job, but I’d be surprised if there were never any opportunities to modify your resume a bit to better show how you’re a strong match for some positions you’re applying for.
Also, some people find it helpful to keep one “master” resume, which lists everything you’ve accomplished everywhere you’ve ever worked (which could be pages and pages) but then pare that down into one actual resume to send (which should be 1-2 pages), pulling the pieces from the master version which will present the strongest case for the job they’re applying for. This is a smart way to do it.
Now, some advice you didn’t ask for. You mentioned that you have an objective statement. You need to get rid of that because it’s 2014 and they’re horribly outdated. And you’re right that you shouldn’t be using a functional resume, because those are awful and scream “I’m hiding something” to hiring managers. What you need is a straightforward resume, no objective, organized reverse-chronologically, with bullet points describing what you achieved at each job — with the emphasis on accomplishments, not just job duties.
If you’re in doubt, start here.