A common question I get asked by clients is if they need TWO versions of their resume. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? As if writing one resume for yourself isn’t hard enough, now you have to write TWO versions?
The answer is: It Depends.
Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself when you start to write your resume (by the way, I recommend asking yourself these questions anyway, even if you’re SURE you don’t need two resumes – especially #3!)
#1 – Am I applying for jobs in different fields?
If your answer is yes, you’re applying for jobs in completely different fields, it’s highly likely you will need two versions of your resume. The reason why? Jobs in two different fields will likely have different responsibilities and qualifications. It’s crucial that your resume matches the requirements of the role.
Needing two versions of the resume is something that happens quite often. It’s more and more common for job seekers to have diverse skill sets that would allow them to possibly move in more than one career direction.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re a Project Manager with a lot of training experience. You want to apply for Project Management positions, but you also really enjoy training, so you also want to try to target Trainer roles. However, these two roles have very different titles, skills, qualifications, and experience requirements. As a result, you might require two different versions of your resume: one focused on Project Management and the other on Training.
#2 – Are the requirements and responsibilities consistent for the jobs I want to apply for?
Your resume’s content needs to be a match with the jobs you ultimately want to apply for. This is for two reasons – first, Applicant Tracking Systems scan the resumes for relevant keywords to identify whether you are a match for the role. Second, hiring professionals, including HR & Hiring Managers, need to review the resumes to see if you have the qualifications and skills required. This doesn’t mean that your resume should be a carbon copy of the job description, but it DOES mean that you need to include similar keywords and related experiences. Otherwise, it won’t be obvious to the hiring professional that you can DO the job.
This can cause problems if the requirements and responsibilities in the job description aren’t consistent between the types of jobs you want to apply for. This is definitely possible even within the same industry and field.
Marketing positions are an excellent example to illustrate this. Marketing is a field that clearly has multiple disciplines and specialties within it, just like many other careers out there. Here are a few examples to illustrate how different positions in one career can be:
- Marketing Copywriter – writing creative marketing copy and content for a variety of sources such as social media, websites, newsletters, etc.
- Marketing PPC (Pay Per Click) Specialist – specializes in managing paid digital advertising campaigns.
- Marketing Social Media Coordinator – oversees marketing campaigns across multiple social media channels.
Although these positions are similar, the focus of the roles is quite different. One role is more focused on content creation, while the PPC Specialist role is more targeted towards expertise in paid digital campaigns, likely with a large focus on search engine marketing (Google Ads). The social media role will require expertise in social media with little mention of search engine marketing. The qualifications and skillsets required for each position will be slightly different, so in the resume, it’s essential to ensure that you’re emphasizing the skills you have that match each role.
#3 – Are the job postings different enough that I need a completely different resume, or can I tweak my resume for each role?
This is very important to consider – if you can just tweak each version of the resume slightly to more closely match the job description requirements, that is much easier than creating a whole new resume. Deciding how to approach this is unique to each person’s background and experience, but here are a few additional questions to ask yourself to decide:
- Compare the job responsibilities between postings. Is ~75% of the content similar? If so, you can likely quickly edit some of the content between applications, so it highlights your relevant experience.
- Is there a different emphasis on keywords throughout (for example – one role may be more focused on project management, another on customer success – but overall, the responsibilities are similar)? If so, you can probably tweak the wording throughout so your resume is more consistent with the posting.
By the way, this is where the top third of the resume really comes in handy. Including a headline, summary, and core competencies in the top third of your resume will allow you to easily customize it for the jobs you’d like to apply for.
My free online Resume Check-Up course can help you with ALL of the above questions. In the course, you’ll learn how to think like a recruiter, how to determine if you actually need two versions of your resume, and how to effectively tweak your resume to apply for different jobs.