Frequently, in my role as a Technical Recruiter for the Plastics Industry, I respond to resumes sent to me for specific positions via e-mail with “your experience does not fit the job requirements” and almost as frequently I receive the following in response “I just have too much experience to put it all in my resume”. Resume writers are told to keep their resumes to one or two pages, so why do I expect job seekers to put so much information on their resume? The answer is, I do not expect job seekers to put all of their experience in their resume, what I expect them to do is to put the experience on the resume that is pertinent to the job they are seeking. If the candidate is responding to a posting for a position on a job board for a Maintenance Manager, two words that should appear somewhere in the resume are Maintenance and Manager.
Ten years ago or more writing only one resume and having it printed on fine or colored paper made a lot sense because it was so difficult to change a resume but in this era of cheap (free on Google) word processors, writing only one resume makes no sense. Each resume should be tailored for the position the job seeker wants. Trying to respond to every position with the same resume is a mistake, especially if the position calls for experience the job seeker has, but does not have in the resume. If the job seeker does not have the required experience, then he or she should probably not be applying for the position in the first place. Just responding to a job posting because one lives in the same town and wants to stay there wastes everyone’s time, and may prevent a good candidate from getting the position.
Some experts say that a cover sheet can be used to fill in experience that has been left out of the resume. I agree with using a cover sheet to tell the recruiter the position being applied for and to highlight some pertinent experience, training, and/or education, but the resume should still relate to position the job seeker wants. If the resume gets too long (sometimes a well written 3 or 4 page resume is not that bad), try leaving things out of the resume such as; I worked my way through college as a sack boy at A&P. Paying your own way through college twenty years ago may have been important when applying for the first, or second, position after graduation but twenty years later it is irrelevant.
The bottom line is that when applying for a job, read the job description thoroughly and respond only if the experience and educational requirements are shown somewhere in the resume. No recruiter, be it a headhunter or a company Human Resources Recruiter, has the time to sift through a resume and try to read between the lines to determine if the job seeker is worth interviewing. Also, there is almost never a second chance to change the recruiter’s mind once they have decided to reject the job seeker’s resume. An indignant response to the recruiter’s rejection e-mail or letter rarely gets them to change their mind, they have moved on to the next candidate.