Do I Really Need Different Resumes for Different Jobs?

Four career consultants agree on one answer... yes
Matthew Greaney
Matt Greaney, Senior Research Chemist in the Catalysts Business Unit of Cariant

This is a good question to ask yourself, and I’d say the answer is yes in most cases.  Your resume likely does not need a complete overhaul every time you apply to a different job, but you should definitely take more than a few minutes to try and tailor all application materials to the specific position you are applying for.  For example, if the job requirements list specific skill sets that you have used for a research project or previous job, you may want to customize part of the description of that previous experience so that it demonstrates your competency in this area. 

Regardless of what position you apply for, consider what the posting is asking for, how many of those boxes you can confidently check off, and make sure your resume conveys this to the hiring manager that will initially spend 1-2 minutes looking at it.  You want to look like a good match for the job, and your resume is often the first chance you get to convince the manager that they should give you more than just a couple minutes of consideration.

Patrick Gordon
Patrick Gordon, ACS Career Consultant

Yes. One should find tune the resume to fit the job description without distorting your experience and accomplishments. 

Donald Truss
Donald Truss, ACS Career Consultant

YES. The resume review process typically starts with an HR professional who may not understand your work. This person is responsible for sending your resume up the food chain if it is appropriate, or discarding it if not. This person is simply looking for keyword matches, employment duration, college degree, etc. Your job is to highlight the parts of your work history that are a match for the job description, and downplay those parts that are not a match. If you do not look like a match in the first 1/2 of the first page - you probably will not get an opportunity to be reviewed by a peer.

Kara Allen
Kara Allen, Director, Recruitment & University Relations, Aegis Sciences Corporation

Yes! As someone who has transitioned careers (from a chemist to recruiter), I was open to both types of jobs when I relocated to Nashville. As these were completely different positions, it was very important for me to have two different resumes. Since chemist positions vary in experience and skill sets needed, I strongly encourage applicants to ensure their resume aligns with each position. If there are preferences for experience with a certain lab instrument, provide more detail about your experience using, maintaining, and troubleshooting that instrument. If you do not have experience with that exact instrument, but something comparable (e.g. HPLC vs. GC), provide that detail. 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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