toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

December 18, 2006

tailoring resumes to jobs

Stephanie, 28, believes a mistake many jobseekers make is to use the same resume for every job they apply for. She has two basic resumes -- one upmarket and one downmarket -- and alters them slightly for each position she applies for according to the particular requirements of the employer.

"I'm not only looking for the job I want but also a bill paying job to tide me over," says Stephanie. "I use the basic upmarket resume for the jobs I want, and the basic downmarket resume for the bill paying jobs. Once you've got these two basic resumes, it's really not too much of a hassle to tailor them to particular jobs."

Right now, only two of Stephanie’s roommates have a job and they are carrying her and two more unemployed girls until they get a job. Stephanie is hopeful of getting the job she wants, but if that doesn’t happen within a month then she is willing to take on an immediate bill paying job.

Her job seeking knowledge and skills are excellent and she enjoys helping the other two unemployed roommates target jobs in a more professional manner.

For the type of job Stephanie wants, her basic upmarket resume accentuates her educational qualifications, skills and experience in that order. She puts her qualifications at the top of the body of her resume and makes them bold. She makes them jump out at the person responsible for doing the culling of job applications.

For those who are not good at presentation formatting, Stephanie suggests getting a professional to type their upmarket resume.

"For the type of job you want - especially if it was advertised on the Net - there are going to be hundreds if not thousands of applicants and from all over the world, too," says Stephanie. "You need to make your resume stand out from everyone else's and while the number of degrees and diplomas you have may not necessarily get you the job, it might just give you the edge in the selection process. Take advantage of that edge."

"Unless you were required to do so," warns Stephanie, "do not spoil the impression of your upmarket resume by including your academic results. That is far too much information. If your degree or diploma was conferred recently or a long time ago, this may go against you, so I think it’s a good idea to omit the year. Use your judgment."

"The same goes for the name of the institution conferring the qualification," says Stephanie. "If it is a well-known university or college, play it up. If it isn’t, then use your judgment on whether it might be better to omit its name."

"For the basic upmarket resume," says Stephanie, "you also need to place your most upmarket skills first (eg managing, analyzing, etc) and omit your downmarket skills (eg typing, telephone skills, etc)."

"It is also a good idea," says Stephanie, "to omit any short-term downmarket jobs you have had recently, or play them up so that they do not sound as downmarket as they really were. And do not be too specific about the dates either!"

"Saving space on a resume is important," says Stephanie, "so drop what might be used against you and highlight what employers need to know."

Following is an example of what Stephanie means by strategic placing on an upmarket resume that will help you get the job you want:

Stephanie Duncan

Qualifications: BA, MA (UCLA)

Skills: Project Management

Recent Employment History: Resources Officer, Acme Products, Oct - Nov 2006

Compare the information given in the upmarket resume with that given below for Stephanie’s downmarket resume. It is the same person, but you would never guess!

For the bill paying type of job, Stephanie uses a resume that accentuates her skills. She puts her skills at the top of the body of her resume and makes them bold so that they jump out at the person reading the resumes.

"For this type of job," says Stephanie, "your resume presentation is really not going to be as important as your skills, so don’t waste money getting a professional to type it unless, of course, you have money to throw around."

"The mistake many job seekers make when applying for a bill paying job," says Stephanie, "is that they include their qualifications. You will be considered over-qualified for the job and rejected outright if you do this. I appreciate that it’s tempting to show off - after all, we all worked hard for our qualifications - but the job you need in order to pay the bills wants a hands-on worker, not an Oxford Don."

"The aim of a downmarket resume is to get an interview for a job to pay the bills. In order to do this," says Stephanie, "you need to downgrade yourself. But only on paper. Nobody wants to employ a smarty for a downmarket job, but as soon as you are in the job, anything can happen. They could love you and promote you to a managerial position if you are lucky - so it's silly to get too hung up about downgrading yourself."

"One small thing," warns Stephanie. "With downmarket resumes for bill paying jobs, prospective employers like to see exact dates of previous employment so even if you were employed for two weeks somewhere, put that in and make sure you state the exact date you started and finished."

Following is an outline of the strategy Stephanie uses on her resume for the downmarket job she needs to pay the bills:

Stephanie Duncan

Skills: Typing 35 wmp, Customer Service, Team work

Recent Employment History: Mail Room Attendant, Acme Products, Oct 19 - Nov 9 2006

"Remove the name and if you can tell it's the same person then you are mighty smart," laughs Stephanie. "And if you can't then it just goes to prove that a little fudging can get you what you want. And I don't think I am being unethical with my two resumes. I am not lying, I am fudging. there's a difference."

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