Avoiding a “One Size Fits All’ Resume

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Resume and calculatorWe’ve all seen them: shirts, pants, dresses and hats boasting the promise that “one size fits all.” The more people a product relates to, the more who will be inclined to buy it, right? Yet, I wonder how true this concept is in the job world.

Various resume templates exist and most people use them as a starting point. Your resume’s setup or layout may be similar to the next applicant’s, but it’s the content that separates you two.  Your work history will vary from another person’s, just as his or her education level may differ from yours. The details in a resume are what ultimately distinguish one candidate from another.

Is the same true for positions? I know many people who use their same cover letter when applying to multiple (and different) jobs; they just simply change the job title. Should you use a one size fits all resume as a job seeker?

My answer is no. A general resume should not be sent to a specificjob listing.

A one size fits all resume means the resume will have to be very general, and often times, vague. If you’re applying for a marketing position, your resume cannot include all your work experience as a cashier. Employers are looking to fill a specific role; if the vacancy was one size fits all, employers would note that. Most positions you apply for will vary in requirements, duties and skills and will be with different companies. Your resume should reflect the wants and needs of the position you’re applying for.

Below are a few important resume areas to make sure you tailor when applying for jobs.


Your objective, purpose, mission statement or goal is extremely important because it shows employers why you are contacting them. For example, if your resume reads: seeking a customer service position that will enable me to utilize my skills to become an asset to my employer, although this sounds nice, it truly doesn’t tell the employer much. What type of customer service position are you looking for? Customer service is a large field from call centers to food and beverage. What skills do you have that you plan to utilize? When tailoring this part of your resume, look at the job description you’re applying to and include any key words.


This is probably the most important section an employer will look at because it demonstrates that you have the background to do the job. If you’re applying for an IT position, list your previous jobs in that field. Seeing that you once were a counselor or adviser is nice, but it doesn’t help an employer know you have the experience for an IT job. Do not include unnecessary or irrelevant experience based on the position you’re applying to. If there’s no direct relation, whether it be skills, duties or job functions, avoid it.

Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is phenomenal, but evaluate it’s importance based on job type. If you’re applying for a nonprofit or some other type of service-related position, you will want to include your volunteer experience. Yet, if you’re applying for an editorial job, past volunteer history shouldn’t take up more space on your resume than work history. You must determine when this section is helpful and when it should be replaced with another point.


Like all the other sections, relate your skills to the job you’re applying to. If the open position requires HTML, CSS and content management system skills, and you have them, list them. Do not keep your communication, writing and proofreading skills you may already have on your resume instead. All the skills on your resume may not relate to every job you apply for. Look for openings where you can replace “common skills” listed with more relevant ones.


If you list these on your resume, think about including references based on job type (if applicable). If you’re applying for an HR position, one of your previous supervisors from a local bakery you worked in may not be as helpful to you or be able to attest to your HR skills. Provide references who can endorse you as a candidate in that particular job role.

By Shala Marks