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You Can’t Be All Things To All People

If you have a persistent sore throat that over-the-counter medicines can’t relieve, where do you go? To a nose and throat specialist.

If you’re a life-long runner and have developed fallen arches and need orthotics where do you go? To a podiatrist.

If you have a funny looking spot on your arm where do you go? To a dermatologist.

Hopefully you see where I am going with this. In none of the above examples would you go to a general practitioner (unless of course your HMO requires a referral- but that is another story). If you have a specific problem then you’ll most likely go to someone trained to offer a specific solution, right?

Employers do the same thing. When they have a specific problem that needs solving, the look for a candidate with those exact skills.

Then why is it that so many job hunters seek to present themselves as all things to all people? This is not only impossible, but it also hurts your chances of ever landing a job in which you can truly excel.

Clients will often come to me with a resume heading that reads something like- “multi-skilled Business Professional.” Invariably, I ask them what exactly that is supposed to mean, because I have yet to see a job posting for a multi-skilled anything. Or even worse they will try to be three different things at once. Your resume (or LinkedIn profile) can not position you as a fashion expert/Accountant/Fitness Trainer.

Employers have specific problems and they are looking for professionals uniquely qualified to solve those specific problems. The sooner you can convince them that you are the one person they need to interview the better. In other words, please, do not let your opening pitch to them be something nonspecific.

If you see a job posting for a customer support specialist for a tech firm and decide to apply, make sure you present yourself directly to the perceived needs of the employer. Present yourself as someone who can translate complex technical material into everyday language that customers can readily understand. Use your resume to highlight where you have created documentation or training materials for technology products that have helped non-technical end users.

Jobseekers have a limited amount of time and space to attract a potential employer’s interest. Don’t waste valuable resume real estate showing how multi-skilled you are. Show how laser focused you can be on the one problem that employer needs solved today. If you do that, you’ll have a much better chance of landing an interview.

Steve P Brady is a virtual job search mentor, executive resume writer and obsessive Red Sox fan. He writes job search strategy articles like this one and shares advice on career and work/life balance.

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