Does your resume brand you as a strong candidate for a range of opportunities?

It does for most of you, because that’s how we all were taught how to write resumes, creating a single document that would interest employers for a range of opportunities.

The problem is, you think this is a good thing.

… but it’s not.

You think it’s a good thing, because it’s what you were taught. And you were never taught newer, non-traditional methods designed to work in today’s job market. So you keep using tactics designed for a job market that changed in the last 5-10 years.

… because you don’t know any better.

Well, now you’ll have the chance to know better and hopefully you’ll see how branding yourself for a range of opportunities doesn’t cut it today.

Branding yourself for a range of opportunities worked well for many years, because:

  • Candidate and Skills Shortages: There were candidate shortages, so employers were happy just to find someone reasonably close to their needs. During these candidate and skills shortages, employers didn’t expect exact matches. Employers would train to close any gaps. In 2007, candidate shortages were replaced by job shortages. In today’s market of job shortages, hiring managers are required to do more with less – Employers now require exact matches, contributing to team productivity immediately without training or ramp-up time.
  • Limited Competition: A one size-fits-all resume worked when competition was limited. Before job board proliferation completely transformed job search, most jobs were advertised in local newspapers, usually asking for resumes via snail mail or fax. Since primarily only local job seekers could see the ad and since it’s much longer to apply via snail mail or fax, candidates had to be more selective in job applications – These factors kept job competition low. Today, there are 40,000 – 50,000 job boards, including boards that specialize by geography, position, function, industry, level and other niches – This led to 10 times the job competition of a decade ago (per Mass competition allows employers greater choices in candidates – so one-size-fits-all ends up fitting nobody.
  • Manual Review: With fewer applicants and employer automation costing millions, all but the largest of companies reviewed resumes manually – When employers manually reviewed resumes, they actually read all of them. Today, if you don’t map out why you are perfect for each specific opportunity, employers don’t take the time to see a match.

A resume crafted for a range of opportunities rarely works well in today’s job market. Now, your best bet is to have your resume brand you as perfect for an individual job.

Today, mass job competition, Human Resource best practices and changed government labor regulations have caused most employers to adopt ATS pre-screening in hiring processes. Employers can enjoy free access to Applicant Tracking Systems via job boards – Even small Mom & Pop employers automate resume pre-screening via database and search tools found in MS Office. Today, only about 2-3% of applicant resumes are actually read by humans, and most of those are merely scanned for 15 seconds.

Since you have little opportunity to show an employer that you’re perfect for the job, when you get that opportunity you’ve got to make it count. During a quick scan of your resume, it’s nearly impossible to show an employer that you’re perfect for their individual needs if you’ve created it to appeal to a wide range of opportunities. Today’s employers just don’t take the time to translate from a range of opportunities to their specific needs.

Here’s 6 ways to brand yourself as perfect for a specific opportunity:

  1. Resume Customization: By customizing your resume specifically for each individual opportunity, you cause hiring managers to see that you are perfect for their individual job. The best way to show that you’re perfect for an individual job is to show that you’ve already solved similar problems to the priority issues faced by the hiring manager. This is far more compelling than showing a hiring manager that you would be good at many different opportunities.
  2. Information: In order to show that you’ve already solved similar problems, don’t you think it would help to know what those problems are? If you try to show you’re a superior candidate without first identifying the hiring manger’s priority problems, you’re guessing … and almost always guessing wrong.
  3. Focus: Once you understand the hiring manager’s priorities, you can focus your resume on your solutions of similar problems. When you first understand the hiring manager’s priorities, you’ll place relevant accomplishments at the top. However, if you don’t first understand priorities, you could easily place the most important hiring manager issues near the end of your resume, where they are likely to be overlooked (because you guessed wrong).
  4. Expertise: Today’s hiring managers hire subject matter experts, even for generalist roles. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish yourself as a better generalist than other competitors. Instead, employers almost always choose a subject matter expert who has already solved problems similar to the hiring manager’s priorities … who also has secondary generalist skills. Think about it – how can a search engine help you find general skills, when they are programmed to find specific criteria, not general criteria?
  5. Emphasis: Include one or two reasons you are perfect for that individual opportunity in your Personal Branding Statement, as your resume’s title.
  6. Support: Include supporting data to show you are perfect for that individual position. Branding is a great way to get your hiring manager’s attention, but to show you can walk the walk, choose backup that supports your brand.

In today’s market of job shortages, where we compete against 1,000 other applicants and resumes are pre-screened by ATSs, a single consistent brand just isn’t good enough anymore.

We’ve been taught to create a single, consistent brand for all the resumes we send out … and that used to work just fine in times past.

It’s seems so much easier to create one resume to send to all employers. It doesn’t take much creativity because you only have to think of yourself from one point of view … your own.

Since different aspects of your experience will be more valuable to some employers, while those same aspects will be less valuable (or worthless) to other employers, why would you try to create one brand that will appeal to all?


Phil Rosenberg is President of, a leading job search information website and gives complimentary job search webinars at Phil also runs the Career Central group, one of Linkedin’s largest groups for job seekers and has built one of the 20 largest personal networks on Linkedin globally.