No matter where we stand on any political or economic issue, there’s one thing we can all agree on: we hate resumes.
They’re a chore, and they leave us feeling vulnerable. Our life is wrapped up on one piece of paper.
They feel like an economic obituary: “Here we see John Smith, who improved production times 15% at Factory Company, exercised critical thinking in managing costs during peak sales months, and left for an opportunity as Associate Manager at Machine Company three years later.”
Our resumes are both pompous and humbling
They’re a way to use key words to exaggerate the menial details of our job. Going to John in marketing about a flyer on the office board turns into “cross-departmental liaison.” Meanwhile, we can’t help but compare titles with our colleagues, and we wonder how some have been able to move up the corporate ladder seamlessly even when they were less qualified than we were.
Resumes are a dirty business. Trust me—that’s what I’ve been doing for a living for seven years now. In fact, I’m not really sure how I fell into it. What I have learned, however, is that while our resumes evolve with the times (should I include a headshot? Not anymore!), and while all resumes may be graded by the quality of the consistency, word choice, and general structure, all resumes are not created equal.
What I mean, here, is this: Not all resumes fulfill their intended purpose, regardless of the professionalism, word choice, and clear growth in career that is presented.
Here’s why you should have multiple versions of the same exact resume.
Bigger companies run your resume through software
If your resume is, ahem, unique, much of your background will be lost as the software tries to pull key data. Resumes with graphs, columns, and any type of images—from lines to sections to break-out boxes—can throw the software reader off, so you should always have a stripped version of your resume for bigger companies.
We have to be honest with ourselves about our career plans
While we might have an idea of what our long-term goals are in our career, for all of us—myself included—we often find ourselves in places we never would have expected to be, and we should be open to pivoting in a few different directions in our careers. While you may be say, an operations manager today, you may also be open to a general manager position, consultant position, or maybe even a position in which you use your operations experience in a whole new way.
We are multi-faceted, all of us
While we may have a career plan, it usually doesn’t play out the way we think. And we all have unique skills and experiences that we bring to our jobs that can be used in specialized ways.
So don’t just have a resume for the next logical step in your career. Have resumes ready for the new opportunities that you can pivot into, should you want. This means having different resumes that focus on different parts of your job as well as different skills and qualities that one position may desire but another does not.
In an age where retirement continues to be pushed back, and for many of us, a mid-life career change is inevitable, it is necessary for us all to consider how we will pivot and keep our careers progressing. We can do so by being prepared for the worst and open for the best opportunities life may give us.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Andy Cerrone holds Masters degrees in Accounting and Business Administration, has worked in career services for over a decade, and writes on the subjects of career services, wealth management, and taxation through his website Common Cents.