If you want to connect with your target employers, stop thinking of your resume as a history of your work life. It’s not. You are the product, the employer is the consumer, and your resume is how you market yourself. So when the occasional client is perplexed as to why I removed portions of her resume, I point out the lack of relevance of the deleted material. Think of it this way: if you need milk, do you want to know that chicken is on sale? Of course not. That’s why your resume must market the skills and experience that matter to the employers you want to work for.

This is the primary reason I turn down people who tell me, “I don’t know what I want to do next; I just want a resume.” But if you don’t know what you want your next job to look like, how do you know if your skills and experience will matter to employers? I turn these folks down because it’s wrong to take their money when I know that the resume I’d be writing won’t have the desired result – instead, it results in an unfocused resume that’s nothing more than a historical document, not the document you need to market yourself.

The spray and pray strategy yields very poor results. It’s not the employer’s job to figure out what to do with you once they’ve read your resume; it’s your job to tell them why you’re the ideal candidate for their open position. To market yourself effectively, you have to be that person.

There’s a particular challenge for those individuals who have had several unrelated jobs that don’t have a common theme. Including these disparate roles results – again – in a resume that is nothing more than history. It’s better to focus on the jobs that represent the springboard(s) for what you want to do next. And there are ways to address any employment gaps doing this creates.

I don’t believe in tweaking your resume for each job you apply to. Instead, how about applying only to those positions that match who you are and what you do? Yes, that means that you’ll be applying to fewer jobs, but it also means that the jobs that you do apply to align with your background, making it easier to market yourself to those employers.

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