The End Of Generalism

by: Joanne Meehl

So often, candidates try to hedge their bets by writing their resumes in a way that aims for jobs in two, three, or four areas, figuring they'll get a bite in one of them.

Or they think they're showing flexibility by listing various options.

Or they hope that if not this job, then the next one at this employer will fit them and their resume will be remembered and dug up for the new job.

Sorry - wrong.

Wrong. And wrong.

To talent sourcers -- that is, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers -- this array only comes across as confused and lacking focus. Recruiters say, "This is a 'menu resume', and this person wants ME to pick one to make up their mind?! No way. Don't they know the one thing they want? Next resume, please."

The fallacy is that being a "generalist" will have appeal. Not today. Sure, a company will appreciate that you can do other things in addition to your main internal driving force. But two, three, or more things all at the same level? It's impossible to be effective doing so, given the structure of today's jobs which are more and more laser-focused themselves.

In addition, good marketers will tell you that unless you focus on the benefits of the one "product" you are offering, your message will get lost. You must focus to get noticed, focus to do what you say you're going to do, and focus to grow to the next level.

A colleague of mine in the D.C. area does only interviewing prep for candidates. Not only that, she does interviewing prep only for certain government jobs. And she's doing very, very well. Why? She has spent her time becoming an expert in that one thing, so she's good at that one thing and has become known for it. So everyone goes to her for it.

Unless you focus, you are not considered an expert in any one area.

Put another way: Focus means you have expertise.

Employers today want experts.

So choose among your strengths the one that shows your value to a future employer and stick with this one. Do your resume around it, your LinkedIn profile updates, put it on Facebook, tweet about it, network with others about it, blog about it.

"Generalism" is gone. Being specific will change things for you.


Is your message unfocused? Is the market ignoring you? Contact Joanne Meehl at 612/807-0258 to change that.


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