You’re still toting that bushel of lemons; in the wake of your termination, you are praying that someone will part with that vital recipe for making lemonade. Taking stock of your strategy-to-date, you convince yourself that you have done everything right. You have prepared, or have had a professional service prepare, a truthful yet compelling resume that presents the optimal expression of you and your qualifications. Armed with a succinct and interesting cover letter as well as a sincere follow-up letter, you’ve anticipated the reception and consideration of your qualifications. In addition, letters of reference have been provided by your employers, and you possess excellent professional and personal references.
Your documents are now in cyberspace, posted on every major job board, literally worldwide, for potential employers to review. The Want Ads in the Sunday newspapers never go unchecked by your tenacious eyes. You network. You obtain interviews and feel confident that you’ve established a rapport with your potential employers. And yet, the job offer never materializes. Why? You did not anticipate the necessity for, and therefore did not create, Plan B — that is why!
In a stagnant economy, you had hoped and perhaps even made the assumption that you would be able to secure employment in the same field in which you had once been gainfully employed. You failed to read the handwriting on the wall. In fact, you did the logical thing by pursuing employment first in your own field. Simultaneously, however, you did not assess how you might best market your basic skills, and perhaps even your specific accomplishments, to expand them to meet the needs of employers in another industry. So … how do you accomplish this? How do you interest potential managers who may view you as inexperienced and therefore, a liability they can ill afford?
Remember the beast of burden. Do you remember the story of the husband, the wife, and the donkey? Seeing the wife comfortably situated upon the back of the donkey, one of the townspeople decries her inconsideration for her husband, who must certainly be as tired as she and has equal right to ride the animal. Hearing this, the wife dismounts and the husband takes her place. The next citizen remarks that the husband is a selfish lout; surely, he can allow his wife to ride the donkey! Knowing what has just transpired, the husband dismounts and walks alongside of his wife. In a few minutes, the next know-it-all comments upon the stupidity of the husband and wife. With such a fine donkey, why must they walk? In desperation, both husband and wife must mount their charge to the outcries of the townspeople now branding the couple as animal abusers for the extra load the donkey must carry!
The moral of this story is that you cannot please everyone at the same time. Our analogy states a similar concept: you cannot appease all employers with the same resume. You may need to create two or perhaps three resumes to open all the doors at your disposal.
What’s behind Door #2?
Your next job, perhaps. Let us assume that you are one of three accountants employed by a three-dealership automotive franchise. Lagging sales have obliged the owner to institute layoffs. As one of the last employees to be hired, your termination is imminent (your duties will be absorbed and divided between your remaining co-workers). Dealership accounting is a very specific, highly detailed form of financial record keeping, mandated heavily by governmental agencies and driven by non-negotiable deadlines linked to financial incentives for your employer. If your resume reflects the specifics of your functions within the dealership, when you have determined that you will “blast it” to a number of other industries, that resume will do you a disservice. In a case such as this, you will want to tailor your resume to reflect the more general skills that you have acquired, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and the preparation of financial statements.
By all means, keep your first resume, which targets the dealerships. At the same time, however, reconfigure a second version for companies in unrelated fields. By removing the nitty-gritty pertinent only to dealerships and focusing on overall, transferable capabilities, you will have made yourself more attractive as a prospective employee.
Downsizing your resume.
Dependent upon your timeframe for locating your next position and how much play you have with that, you may wish to “downsize” your resume in order to get your foot in the next available door. For instance, if you are an inside sales representative whose functions include soliciting and generating new business as well as servicing the needs of existing accounts, you may wish to design two resumes, particularly if your financial situation demands that you attain a new position quickly and cannot wait for that perfect job to appear. One of your resumes should be devoted solely to customer service, indicating duties that are obviously central to your position, and negating the hard sales aspect of your background. By downplaying this element, you can paint yourself as more marketable in terms of placement and salary, as virtually every industry requires customer service specialists.
The second resume should center on your business development and account management skills. Should you locate an opportunity requiring such responsibilities, you will thus present yourself as an employee with broader experience who can command a higher salary.
Get out there and squeeze some lemons!
You have just received a fundamental recipe for turning lemons into that all-important lemonade. So get out there and start squeezing everything you can from your most significant qualifications, adjusting and flavoring the brew, if the situation calls for it, to the tastes of your potential employer.