Joyce Lain Kennedy, author and syndicated careers columnist, posed this question. It’s a dilemma for job seekers, but there are strategies to address it:
1. Don’t post multiple versions of your resume all over the Internet. In general, posting resumes online is not a useful strategy. If you’re a job seeker with several targets, it’s even less constructive to plaster information that may cause someone to think you can’t decide what you want to do.
When you apply for a specific job, target the resume, but resist posting various versions in general resume databases.
2. Create a carefully tailored online presence, keeping in mind your target audience(s).
It’s not advisable to maintain more than one professional identity online, so the best thing to do is either focus on a goal or type of job or embrace your diverse work background.
Since employers tend to prefer candidates with focused skills and experiences, consider choosing a favorite area or target jobs in areas where you have the best chance to land a position. Define yourself as an expert in your field online so your digital footprint fits your target goals.
If you prefer to try to keep your options open, it’s not impossible to write a reasonable, inclusive profile to appeal to your varied targets. Carefully study all job descriptions of interest. Identify where they overlap and tailor your online presence to suitably address as many of the requirements as possible. For a sales position, emphasize accomplishments selling items or services in general. Highlight your successes, and focus on how often you outperformed targets, won awards, and satisfied customers. (These are universally admired endeavors.) It’s okay to list areas of expertise, but don’t over-emphasize any particular industry. Avoid including jargon specific to your past jobs in your descriptions if you want to have broad appeal.
3. Create a social resume, or personal/professional website, to showcase your skills. Since your own website provides the flexibility that social networks don’t offer, you’ll be able to highlight your various skills in one convenient hub. Use your site to tell a compelling story describing your background and experiences. Make sure you emphasize your expertise; don’t let the reader come away from your site thinking of you as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. Instead, weave a tale focusing on your underlying areas of expertise (based on the skills you know the employers want to see), and highlight key accomplishments to convince them you have what it takes to do the job.
In addition to your descriptive story, include tabs with information on the site for each area of expertise. You may even provide links to your targeted resumes under each of those areas. Anyone who visits your page will be drawn to the information relevant to him or her, and likely follow the appropriate path to learn more.
One caveat: Since everything is in one centralized location, it is important to have enough overlap so you don’t confuse the reader. It isn’t a good idea to create a social resume to showcase your “Fashion Design” and “Medical Advocacy” careers unless you can tell a convincing story about how they are related and show how the underlying skills you need for each one is the same. Your social resume is the perfect venue to share that story. Most importantly, it’s the place to make a case for why you are a “perfect fit” for the jobs you are targeting, even if you have a non-traditional, multi-faceted background and goals.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.