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Put a Unique Focus on Your Résumé to Make an Impact

Show some versatility with a resume that shows more than a job history


A résumé is often the first glimpse of you that a hiring manager gets, so make sure yours doesn't end up in the "overqualified and won't stick around" discard pile.

If you're applying for a position that's way out of line with your previous jobs, consider these methods of targeting your résumé:

  • Address the issue. Use your resume's summary or objective section to say why you are applying for this particular job. You might highlight your interests, values or other reasons why this is not just any job to you — specifically, not a job you'll leave at the first opportunity. Also, if you've previously worked in management but are applying for a non-managerial job, it's OK to say you’re looking for more hands-on opportunities to practice your skills.
  • Limit your work history to the most recent positions you’ve held. The focus should be on matching your skills and accomplishments with the open position, not a recap of your entire career. Limit your experience depending on what you are applying for today. To avoid seeming too old or too highly paid, a good rule of thumb is to limit your related experience to about 15 years for a managerial job and about 10 years for a technical job.
  • Focus more on your skills, accomplishments and dedication than on job titles and responsibilities. A list of specific accomplishments (did you save your old employer money? Initiate a team-building practice?) can be more impressive and less daunting than a list of your responsibilities, especially if you won't have the same level of responsibility in this position. A "functional" or "combination" resume might be your best option.
  • Cluster your skills under three or four categories that are important to anyone working in the position you are applying for. These may include leadership, teamwork, innovation, computer skills, communication skills, supervisory skills and so on.

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