Unfocused resumes make you look lazy…

During a recession, the number of applicants per opening skyrocket. I heard recently that a position with a major retailer that would have had six applications just three or four months ago is now getting over 90. With this kind of workload, employers and hiring managers are looking for ways to quickly screen applicants and pick the cream of the crop.

Having worked in employment services for a number of years, I see a lot of clients that really dislike the job search process. They simply throw a few broad skills and recent employment history on a resume and think that’s going to cut it.  A year ago when just being a healthy body and having a willingness to show up was enough to get you a job, that might have been fine. But in today’s climate it shows up for what it is — you’re hoping the employer will do your job search for you.

If you’re looking for work in kind of related fields, say automotive repair and general handyman, as well as anything that will pay the bills, then you should have three resumes.  While a mechanical aptitude may be a skill that you list on all three, knowing how to fix a transmission is probably not important to an employer who’s looking for someone to do small plumbing repair jobs in an apartment complex. Knowing how to do maintenance on various landscaping equipment probably doesn’t help the employer desperate for a new brake technician.

What’s worse are those resumes that make things really general, like listing a skill as a vague “Automotive Repair”. The thinking behind this is “I can do it all and if I put something specific, it might limit me.” But that’s not what this tells employers, it actually says, “I’m not sure how I can help you but I need a job.” Employers aren’t looking to give you a job, even if they’ve posted a job ad. They’re looking for someone to help solve their problem, whether this is to sell more dental equipment to dentists, quickly ring through customers at the supermarket or handle the overflow of repairs coming in as customers decide their old jalopy can last another year. You need to be telling employers how you can solve those problems and do it well.

Finally, some job seekers say, “I don’t want to write three resumes. I don’t like computers and it takes me forever to do just one. Besides, when I get an interview than I can tell them all that stuff.” But, of course, getting that interview becomes less likely if when looking at a resume an employer doesn’t know how you’ll best help them.

And not wanting to spend the admittedly hours it takes to write a good resume means, “My time is more important than yours and you should just give me a job.” The average employee costs about $150,000 to hire, once you count wages, training, overhead and lost productivity.

That bare bones resume that you feel is “good enough” has got to compete against a whole lot more candidates in this economic climate. I’m not saying you won’t get hired with it and there’s no guarantee that an excellent resume will land you the position. But if you’ve sent out a ton of resumes and you’re not getting the response you want, try taking a look at the message you’re sending.

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