Do you ever feel pigeonholed when you’re looking for a job? Well, make sure it’s not you who’s doing the pigeonholing. Some job-seekers paint their skills and experiences in identical language whenever they send out a resume or go to an interview. That’s a mistake.
You absolutely have to re-position yourself for each opportunity. Ask yourself, “What would be of most interest to this employer?” Then you have to answer with the things that are most important to them.
Is it dishonest to play up those parts of your background that relate to the role you seek? No. We’re not talking about mis-stating facts or lying – which you obviously should never do. We’re talking about positioning yourself so the first thing a potential employer sees is how well you can fit with their organization.
It’s perfectly legitimate to rephrase past job titles, as long as your wording reflects either the actual function you performed or your level of responsibility.
It’s also legitimate to modify job descriptions, moving to the top those achievements or activities that relate most closely to the specific role you’re applying for.
For example, maybe you’re a programmer. But you’ve demonstrated exceptional interpersonal skills, suitable for a marketing or sales role. Techies have made moves like that based on how well they’ve managed internal relationships. In that case, the thing to do is emphasize your communications ability.
Another example: If you’ve got tons of international experience but all the jobs you’re applying for are domestic, remove the word “international” from your resume where you can. Your accomplishments are still valid without it, and you’ll have put yourself into the context of the jobs you see posted.