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Should you write a general or specific resume?

resume on desk in charleston, sc

By Sara San Angelo

It used to be that general resumes (resumes that are geared toward multiple careers) worked in getting you an interview. Not so much anymore.

I get this question a lot, especially from clients wondering why I suggest to them that two resumes are sometimes better than one. Not trying to upsell anybody, but I tell my clients it is a waste of their money to try and make a general resume that spans several industries.

What is a general resume?

A general resume is one that focuses on multiple careers you would like to apply for instead of honing in on one. It has general words like “highly skilled person” or “dedicated worker”. It is a hodgepodge job listings and skills on your resume that is like trying to throw in everything you have ever done to see what sticks. I understand everyone has done many different things in their careers, but listing that you are in Food and Beverage and Accounting and Sales all in one resume is going to confuse some people, and some machines scanning your resume.

Why general resumes don’t work these days?

Being in the Charleston area for more than 30 years and writing resumes for 20, I’ve gotten people interviews with some of the biggest companies in town. And I ca tell you, what worked back then, does not work now. Used to be an employer would post a job listing on a job board and 100s of resumes would come flooding in, over email, fax and even in the mail. Then the employer would have to wade through all these resumes to find a few that he liked. This took days, even weeks to do for the larger companies.

Now companies have streamlined the process with a computer program called the Applicant Tracking System. This program is a bot that scans your resume for relevant words (keywords) that correspond to the job listing. Then it assigns each resume a score. If it does not find enough keywords in your resume, your score will be low and you will never make it to the second phase of the process, having a human review your resume. Big companies like Boeing in Charleston, Blackbaud, MUSC and Roper have applicant tracking systems in place.

General resumes may only have 5 to 10 keywords that correspond to the job you are applying for. That is a very low number and it’s not going to get you to the second phase of the process.

Why targeted or specific resumes work

The way I write resumes is I reverse engineer the job listing and create your resume from that. I scan for all the keywords and requirements in the job listing and I make sure to include them in the resume. Your resume is tailored to the specific job you are applying too. This way, your resume will pass the ATS and get into the hands of a real person. I also focus on your accomplishments and put them front and center. My resumes have a 99% success rate at getting you an interview. Contact me now to get started on your new resume!

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