Should I Tailor my Technical Resume for Every Job?

In my technical resume service, I'm frequently asked this question. As with many technical resume issues, there are a range of opinions. Several authoritative websites suggest that tailoring your resume for every job is a good idea.

While there certainly can be advantages to tailing your resume for every job, I'd like to take a minute to discuss the potential downsides, so you can make an informed decision.

  • Too many files living on your hard drive. These days, the odds are that you'll be applying to a large number of jobs - maybe in the hundreds. If you customize your resume for every job posting, you can easily end up with an unmanageable number of similarly named files. Keeping those straight can be a challenge, of course. But beyond that, there's always the risk that you'll send the right resume to the wrong job - and that can be difficult to rectify.
  • Time. Again, if you're applying to many jobs - I'd say, personally, anything above 10 or so - you need to determine if the time taken to constantly modify will lead to diminishing returns.
  • Increased chance for errors / typos. I hate typos. I've been accused of seeing typos as moral failings. But the fact is that proofreading one's one work is challenging - rather like debugging one's on code. So, with every resume modification that you make, the chance for errors to creep in increases exponentially.

My recommendations?

  • Be VERY clear on your career objectives. If the bulk of the jobs you're applying for are in the same area, there will be much less need for customization.
  • Be certain that you have a strong technical resume prepared that speaks to ALL your strengths - clearly and concisely. If your resume tells your story effectively, there may be much less need for customization.

This isn't to say that some customization may not occasionally be a good idea - but I believe that if your resume is extremely strong, clear, powerful, and effective, that need may be MUCH less.