Why You Need Multiple Resumes

Q: If a job seeker applied for 15 different positions, how many different resumes would he need?

A: If we include both the text for the online application and corresponding resume, a minimum of 17, and likely north of 30.

While that may seem like a lot of different resumes, it is important to look at the factors surrounding the answer to appreciate why this is true, and then consider some practical ways to make it easy to produce all the documents needed.

Why So Many?

A customized resume and/or application is needed for each unique position, assuming there are both subtle and large differences between positions. Most employers are now utilizing Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to manage the flow of resumes and applications (currently this is about 85% of large employers, 60% of mid-sized employers, and 30% of small employers). The ATS is programmed to look for how well a candidate’s resume and application matches the specific keywords associated with each open position. The ATS is designed to cull through 95% of the resumes and allow only the top 12-20 best matches to be seen by human eyes. So unless the applicant has customized the application (or resume) in order to have a high correlation with the keywords associated with each specific position, the applicant’s resume / application will not get to a human decision maker.

But that is not all. Some applicants are a perfect match for a specific position based on the keyword matching, but are REJECTED as unreadable by the ATS. Why? Because the applicant has utilized a formatted resume or copied formatted text into the online application itself, and this is not readable by most ATSs. The ATS cannot read most graphics, and in some cases, cannot read text greater than 64 characters per line. Moreover, some information contained in a resume’s job title and section headings may confuse an ATS. The increase the ATS readability of your application or resume, use only standard section headings such as Career Accomplishments, Experience, Education, Honors And Awards, and Interests.

ATSs can read any length document and they do not care about how a resume or application looks, just the information contained in the document. Thus, job seekers should have an unformatted .txt version of their resume free from all graphics, solid lines, non-.txt characters into which to embed the keywords associated with a specific opening, and use it for entry into any employer’s online application system.

In addition, job seekers should have a beautifully formatted resume with the same information, printed on fine linen stock, ready to hand to the interviewer as well.

Practical, Time-Saving Tips

Consider taking these steps to build the various iterations of your resume and application:

1. Creating a Mother Document. Build a master resume that contains as much detail as possible about each experience and educational entry. Continue to add to it during your search. It is from this document that you will draw out specific details that are applicable to specific positions, and use them to create position-specific resumes and applications. This becomes the “mother document” from which all “children” (specific iterations of the resume) will be drawn.

2. Use Microsoft Word or other word processor that allows for saving in both .doc and .txt formats. This will make it easy to create unformatted, plaintext content for use with ATS and online applications. The .txt format will strip out all special characters and formatting.

3. Develop a list of keywords applicable to each position and build factual content around each keyword. Over time as you apply to different positions, you will likely have opportunities to re-use or re-purpose your keyword-specific content.

4. For each position you’ve held, develop three to five bullet points of the most significant quantifiable achievements. For example, in a role where you dealt with customers, it might be, “served as primary customer lead for more than 1,200 customer cases, achieving a ‘met or exceeded expectations’ rating of 98.3%, tops among 32 caseworkers.”

5. Drawing Children from the Mother Document. For each iteration of your resume drawn from the mother document, use only the bullet points (from 4 above) that best apply to the specific position and employer.

6. As you create position-specific resumes, save them in both .doc and .txt versions using a title that readily identifies the employer, position, and date, such as “Walgreens Pharma Tech II 6-18-14.”

7. In the event you secure an interview, open the .doc version and reformat it using appropriate special characters, then have crisp multiple copies printed in fine linen resume paper. Here, visual appeal and readability are just as important as content (which should match the information you supplied earlier). Make sure to bring at least three extra copies to the interview than the number of interviewers you have been told will meet with you.

8. You can always create a .pdf version of this visually appealing version for emailing. Do not email the .txt or .doc versions as the act of emailing may in some cases alter the document.

Want more tips like this for every phase of your job search? Then visit Boyer Management Group’s Career Search Tools page to learn more about which job search assessment-and-textbook is right for you.

Boyer Management Group works with universities, employers and job seekers alike to help them become more successful. For job seekers and universities, we offer the world’s first tow assessments to measure someone’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging job search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. For employers, we offer world-class talent assessment, acquisition onboarding, and training tools and programs. To find out more, please visit us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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