Resumes: Why Have Just One?

Posted by Marci Alboher on June 19, 2011
Resumes: Why Have Just One?

Now that laser printing is inexpensive and widely available, the days of visiting the stationer to order your custom-printed resumes are a quaint memory. Today, resumes are fluid.

If you're a savvy job hunter, a basic one lives on your hard drive so that you can customize it each time you apply for a job, accentuating those parts of your experience that make you most qualified (and minimizing those that aren't relevant). If you have multiple job titles (for example, writer/lawyer/motivational speaker), also known as a "slash career," you can take this concept one step further. Consider adopting the "Geoff" approach.

Geoff has at least three resumes. As a lawyer/actor-director, his various resumes have slightly different formats and purposes. (For a look at Geoff's three resumes and a selection of other resumes and bios mentioned in this chapter, see the Appendix.)

Look at them quickly and you might not even know he's the same person. The "strictly legal" one has his education listed on the top, followed by a section listing all his law-related jobs. There is not a single line mentioning his extensive experience as an actor-director, though in a category called "Other Experience," he lists a series of articles he wrote for newspapers and magazines; as a lawyer, Geoff mostly writes appellate briefs, so anything that shows his writing ability is relevant to a potential legal employer. Even the "Interests" line doesn't mention his theater-related activities.

Geoff's "actor" resume is in an entirely different format. His name is emblazoned across the top in bolded letters, and beneath that he lists his eye color, weight, and height-information you'd never find on a lawyer's resume, unless the resume was an exhibit in a lawsuit about employment discrimination. The rest of the one-page document is divided into categories- stage, film, television-followed by a section called "Training" and finally "Special Skills." His legal background isn't even revealed in the "Special Skills" section.

He also has a third version, "the director" resume, which emphasizes his theater work but also mentions his legal education. In the event that some day he interviews for a job where an employer could value both his legal and theatrical background, say, as general counsel for a theater company, he would use this one.

Bonnie Duncan, the teacher/dancer/puppeteer, has adopted almost the opposite philosophy. She has one resume that presents all aspects of her career. As an artist, performer, and arts educator, all her slashes are interconnected, and she doesn't see any downside to including them all on one resume. She also uses an innovative (though not distracting) approach to font and layout, more evidence that she's a creative person in everything that she does.

In the slash world, there is no limit to the ways people present their skills and background. Mike Franco and Diane Curry, two advertising professionals (and a married couple) who took on a shared slash when they became innkeepers, decided that a joint resume was the best way to present themselves when applying for a position as resident managers of a hotel. They were being hired as a team, so what better way to show a potential employer that they consider themselves a unit, with various strengths and talents between them? This kind of resume also gave them a chance to reveal their personalities, with entries like this in the "Other Skills" section: "Demonstrated ability to talk to a guest and take a reservation while preventing the lemon ginger muffins from burning and still managing to meet the FedEx man at the front door before the second ring!"

That shared resume is just one of several resume-like documents Franco and Curry have to showcase their experience and abilities. They each also have a more traditional resume that documents their respective experience in the advertising field, which comes in handy when pitching a new client for freelance work. Franco also built a Web site,, where he posts examples of his creative work. This site is more appropriate than a resume for introducing himself to prospective clients.

A word of caution: if you keep multiple resumes on your computer, be sure to name each file something innocuous, like "Resume Dec07." File names travel with your documents when you send them as e-mail attachments, so if you name your resume "Acting Resume," you might be telling a potential employer who doesn't know you have another work/life more information than is necessary in that context.

Author Bio:  Marci Alboher is an auther/speaker/coach.  She became interested in career reinventions when she left the practice of law to become a freelance journalist.  Marci is now a regular contributor to the New York Times, a sought-after speaker, and a coach to aspiring writers and professionals in transition.

This article is excerpted One Person/Multiple Careers, A New Model for Work/Life Success by Marci Alboher. To learn more, visit www.HatchetteBookGroup.comThis article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Marci Alboher. All rights reserved.

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