I’m always surprised when executive job seekers come to me for a resume and start the conversation with something like, “I just need a really good senior-level management resume.”
When I ask them what kind of job they’re targeting, they give me a number of possibilities that are vastly different and say they’d like their resume to cover all the bases.
They don’t understand that a generic resume probably won’t serve the purpose a resume is designed for — to get them interviews.
Think about it. If you’re tasked with reviewing resumes to fill a position within your company, how much attention will you pay to the ones that don’t speak to the specific qualifications and attributes you know the job requires? You’re not likely to take the extra time to sift through the generic information provided and determine whether those candidates warrant a second look.
The same goes for recruiters and hiring decision makers reviewing resumes to vet candidates. If they don’t clearly see in your resume that you’ll fulfill all the requirements for that job they’re trying to fill, your resume will probably be pushed aside.
Once I discuss with my clients the fact that a resume has to be written with the readers in mind, they start to get why a generic resume probably won’t generate interest in them. I tell them that when I’m crafting a resume, I always put myself in the readers’ place. But I can’t do that if I don’t know who the readers will be.
The first step, before doing any resume writing, is identifying a target job so we’ll know what the reader will be looking for. If a client can’t narrow it down to a specific job with a specific company, I get them to focus on a specific kind of position and/or discipline.
A great tactic I advise my clients to practice is to go to a site like Indeed, Simply Hired, or O*Net Online and search job descriptions that are good matches for them. They may actually find a great job to apply for, but, when they find comprehensive, well-defined descriptions, they’ll also have a wealth of relevant key words and information to reflect in their resumes.
Many of my executive clients have diverse possibilities in mind for their next job. I suggest that they either have more than one targeted resume created or start their search in one direction and, if nothing pans out, switch gears, revisit their resume, and adjust it for other opportunities.