The Black Dress Resume

1.19.14. black dressRecently I critiqued a resume for a Program Manager that IMO left room for improvement. During our conversation I offered an analogy to understand writing a Winning Resume for modern day job seekers in her situation, a situation shared by many mid to senior level professionals and executives. She liked it and suggested I blog about it because people, especially women, could relate to it and read something of value; hence the analogy of the Black Dress.

Some context first; DM is an intelligent, outgoing and articulate woman with a diverse professional background having worked for years at a Fortune 500 company where she assumed numerous roles and wore multiple hats. After she left she became an independent business consultant to small and midsize businesses. Like many of you, she has skill sets and experience that qualify her to fill multiple roles in a new organization. Herein lays the dilemma.

Great resumes have certain defined characteristics; they must establish a personal brand and tell a compelling story that is narrowly focused on the specific position you’re using it to apply for.

Now let’s say you’re a Project Manager looking for a new employer, you may qualify and have an interest in applying for other positions such as Business Analyst, Program Manager, PMO Manager, Production Manager or Operations Manager, in addition to Project Manager, depending on your skill sets, prior experience, and achievements.

This is where the analogy comes in. When you have the ability to qualify for multiple jobs some job seekers are of the opinion they need multiple resumes; one for each job title. This is analogous to going into your closet and selecting a brand new outfit, a new dress, business suit or skirt and jacket with a new blouse for every new interview you go on. Not many people can afford to do this. Conversely there are job hunters – and many believe it to be true – who think there is no harm in submitting the exact same DIY resume for every position they apply for. To me this is analogous to wearing the same black dress with no other accessories for a first interview and for all follow up interviews where some of the same people are present for each new round. This IMO is not a smart move.

What I told DM is a resume is like a fashionable black dress; it gives off a different aura as your accessorize it. Much the same as a black dress does with a new set of shoes [flats, pumps or heels], a strand of pearls, a broach or with a scarf or other accessory. By accessorizing the dress you can wear it to a number of interviews and each time present a new look. By accessorizing a resume it too can serve multiple purposes.

How to accessorize your resume for different roles and job titles

For most job seekers submitting a resume to multiple job titles the Experience, Education, and most of the Core Skills section of the document remain somewhat consistent on every version you submit. However you should not submit the exact same resume every time!

To accessorize your resume task #1 is to find an appropriate format for your line of work, and it must be one that you can easily tweak without requiring a major rewrite or causing page format problems as you make changes. Task #1A is to identify the ubiquitous similarities and the discernible differences in the Hire Profile for the various roles you qualify for, and using this knowledge make the proper changes to portray yourself as a leading candidate for that specific job.

The obvious places to start are in the Title and Brand Statement that must be customized for each new role. Also the Core Skills Section (if you have one) should be edited with the proper additions, deletions and changes in positioning to best reflect your fit for the desired profile. You should then review the Profile/Summary section and adapt it to the Hire Profile and then review the bullet points and accomplishments in this section and in your Experience section to align them to desired profile as well. To accessorize the resume you need to know what to add, delete or move around in all sections of your resume to best tell the story of why you fit the Hire Profile the employer is seeking to interview and hire.

If this makes sense and you think you now know what to do, I’m glad this helped. If now you realize you’re not as up to the task of writing your own resume as you thought you were, I suggest you seek professional help.

As always I am willing to critique U.S. resumes and LinkedIn pages at no cost:

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