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How many different resumes should you have?

Q: I have found that I am having more luck if I customize my resume and tailor it to a specific role. Is this a common practice?

A: Gone are the days when we had one resume, with several hundred copies printed at one time. Today, most of us have our resumes online and are able to tweak and edit as needed.

It is smart to tailor your resume to a specific job opening — with a few caveats. First, always be truthful. Second, be aware of version control. You don’t want to share several different versions with one company and cause confusion. You want to be confident in your knowledge on which version was submitted and not openly acknowledge you have several versions.

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As an example, you should not title one resume “Resume 2018 – sales version” or something similar. That title tips off the reader that you have more than one resume out there. Instead, opt for a generic title like “Jane Smith – 2018 resume,” even if that version might be the sales version of your resume. Also be certain that you don’t make a comment like, “Let me find which version I sent you.”

If you are applying for a sales role, you want to lead with information about quotas, achievement, results, and perhaps information about your territory or one of the top deals you have closed. But if you are applying for a sales trainer role, you may want to include metrics around the return on investment for those participating in your training program, the number of participants you have trained, the names of your clients, and the type of sales (business-to-business, inside sales, etc.) you specialize in. You might be a qualified candidate for both types of roles but you don’t necessarily want to share that with prospective employers.

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Some people might disagree with me and advise candidates to have one resume and defend it. The problem with that is the candidate may never get to defend it if they don’t pique the employer’s interest.

Sometimes, re-ordering bullet points and other minor editing is enough to entice a company to contact a candidate. If that works for you, I am all for it. Remember, employers hire employees — the resume is merely an introduction.


Pattie Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group in Hopkinton.