Having More Than One Résumé is (Almost) the Worst Idea Ever

Before we even get started I realise on the front end that I am in the minority on the topic presented in this blog post but I really think that having more than one résumé is in most cases a horrible idea and is a complete waste of time. In my eyes the only exception is when a person in the know about a particular position asks you to tweak your résumé because they know what gets the hiring managers juices flowing and can hand deliver it to him.

Another One of the Worst Ideas Ever


This is the way that I look at it – if there are two candidates and one spends three months networking THE RIGHT WAY and the other spends three months customizing, submitting and then keeping up with every résumé he sends off I can guarantee that the first candidate (the one that networks) is going to have much better success  than the second.

Consider the following:

  • When you are facing hundreds and sometimes even thousands of qualified candidates for every position there is a good chance that your résumé will NOT EVEN BE LOOKED AT, no matter how customized your résumé is
  • When you read any literature on how to land a job it always says that networking is the way to go and has over time shown itself to be the most consistent way to find a job
  • If you have been out of work for (in some cases) even a short period, are switching careers, or don’t meet the qualifications exactly your  résumé will more than likely not get looked at anyways so having an internal cheerleader via networking is the only way to go
  • If you do research before you ever put your résumé together and have a good understanding of what the market in your industry / job function is calling for you can create ONE (not 10) documents that will cover 99% of the positions out there

If you will leave your résumé alone and spend more time on the phone and meeting people one on one I promise you that you will see an increase in positive activity in your search.

Until next time, good hunting and good luck!



12 responses to “Having More Than One Résumé is (Almost) the Worst Idea Ever

  1. Ok – I agree with you but for one exception. That’s for the person who is open to changing fields. You will need a resume that highlights your accomplishments in your current field – but you will also need a resume that can open the door in your new field without looking like you have to0 narrow a functional orientation. Matt – what are your thoughts?

    • I am still a one resume type of guy and will rely on my networking to get the job done.

      I think you should not have to use a resume until you have already sold yourself in person or on the phone.

  2. Maybe I have networking all wrong. However, I have reached far and wide to everyone I know and I am always told you’ve got to go through the company website. Mabe there’s a new meaning to networking that I am not aware of.

    • Naomia –

      If you are networking and asking for jobs you are not going to get anywhere.

      Ask for information and referrals. Do a search on informational interviewing and you will get some great info.

  3. Pingback: Having More Than One Résumé is (Almost) the Worst Idea Ever « A Recruiters Guide to the Universe « Nashville Career Advancement Center

    • I generally follow the one resume approach, but if you are applying for federal government positions you will probably need to customize least one additional resume.

  4. Wow Matt – I couldn’t disagree more. While candidates can be more successful networking for jobs and finding the hidden job market (see my post today: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/08/elusive-hidden-job-market.html), there are still many more candidates than jobs.

    Even after speaking to a hiring manager, even after meeting a hiring manager it is the rare firm that will seriously consider a candidate without a resume. When there are 6 times more candidates than jobs, portraying exact skill sets, and the ability/experience to solve the most pressing problems of the hiring manager is critical to being viewed as a finalist.

    We are no longer in a job market of low hanging fruit. Today’s employers look for “purple squirrels”, people who can wear more than one hat – because jobs have been combined as headcounts were cut.

    Candidates who use a single resume play the odds that the words in their static resume will magically match the needs of a specific manager, department and company. The odds stink – they are beyond bad.

    Cover letters are rarely received by hiring manager (just 33% get them), rarely read (just 10% read them), and even more rarely used in the hiring managers decision process (less than 4% read them). How often do recruiters forward candidate cover letters to employers – how often does the hiring manager ask for one?

    Yet candidates are advised to rely on them to customize a static resume.

    That worked in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, even 1990. It stopped working once the internet started flooding employers with applicants in 2000.

    Fortunately, there is a more effective way. Yes, it takes more work … but it increases a candidate’s response rate by multiples.

    For a better approach, see http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/09/differentiate-your-resume-with-winning.html

  5. Matt,

    I heard your presentation this Monday, nice job! I’m going to take a page out of your book and stop agonizing over resumes because it is a huge time issue. Once I have the PERFECT resume (one that no one else has seen yet) I’ll send it your way to get another opinion. About that video clip…well that must be some cruel Louisiana hazing trick and I’m sure the crawfish was scarred for life also! Those crazy Cajuns! Also, Monday night I ran into Bill Karlson, that guy who wrote the book “Get Top $$$ in A Job You Love!” He said he was there to take notes from YOU! Way to go Matt!

  6. I have 2 Résumé’s. One for VP/CIO/CTO jobs, and one for programming jobs. The management positions are harder to come by, so if I’m unemployed for too long I will certainly get a job as a programmer. The last time I was looking for work I employed this tactic, got hired as a programmer, and got promoted to VP 2 months later.

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  8. I totally agree, Matt. It is the difference between playing from your strengths to a targeted audience who needs the skills/contributions you bring to the table … or, playing the posted position game and trying to be all things to all people. The former is the much better, more effective search strategy.

  9. I like your take on this because it fits the mentality of being judged for who you are. What good does it do you to get hired for being one type of person and trying to advance in that job as a one different from how you presented yourself?

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