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Resume Help/Making multiple resumes


Dear Dr. Converse,

I am having a hard time understanding why so many people tell you that you must have more than one resume.  I mean, I am the same person with the same skills, the same education, and same education.  Why, or how, would I change any of that?  Appreciate your help.

Hi Don,

I have received this question a lot over the years.  The confusion arises out of a misunderstanding about what the resume is actually supposed to do.  Once you understand its true function, then the answer is fairly straight-forward and makes complete sense.

Briefly stated, the function of a resume is to demonstrate how your skills, education, and background fit the needs of any given employer.  If you understand that the needs of each employer - even those in the same field looking for an individual with the same title - are different, then you can grasp how a resume needs to be revised to meet those differences.  If an employer advertised, for example, for a structural engineer, the needs of that employer will likely be different than one of their competitors who advertises for a structural engineer.  Even institutions that fill the same kinds of needs in a society (hospital, for instance) will have different qualities they are looking for because they have different requirements.

Every time you send out an application package, you need to show exactly how YOU provide a great fit for an employer.  If you send the same resume to everybody, you are making the erroneous assumption that everybody has exactly the same needs and requirements to fill.  And that is a really bad mistake to make.  

Over the years I have reviewed tens of thousands of app packages and I can tell you with firm conviction that a large percentage of them - most of them, in fact - were sent out as blanket resumes.  That is, the same resume was sent to everyone.  It is easy to spot an application that does this, and believe me when I tell you that we don't spend much time looking at them.  Anyone who "firebombs" (the term used for sending out dozens of the same resume to employers) isn't going to get much attention.  It tells employers that you're simply too lazy to find out what their individual needs are.  And if you're that lazy before they even talk to you, why would they consider hiring you?  Answer: they wouldn't.

So, take the time to read the job announcement carefully and highlight all the requirements and duties.  Make sure the version of the resume and cover letter that you send discusses how you specifically meet each of the needs listed.  If you don't do that, it won't get done.  Some applicants assume that the employer will diligently plow through all the resumes they receive for a given job and do the matching of institutional needs with applicant strengths.  I can assure you that does not happen.  Employers regularly get dozens, if not hundreds, of applications for any one job.  They have neither the time nor the patience to match what you can do with what they want.  That is your job.

I hope this is helpful.  I'll be happy to look at your res and letter if you care to send them to me at the email address below.  Send them as attachments and I'll be pleased to give you a free appraisal.

In the meantime, best of luck!

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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