Search
Advice » Resumes & Letters» Resume Writing Tips » Choosing Your Resume Strate ...
Choosing Your Resume Strategy: Specialist or Generalist

Choosing Your Resume Strategy: Specialist or Generalist

By Larry Buhl

In a buyer's market, you may be tempted to throw all your skills on your resume, praying that the sheer variety of your experiences will overwhelm an employer. After all, you wouldn't want a potential employer to overlook that one gem in your background that could really set you apart.

But does the generalist resume work best today? Not necessarily. Recruiters say emphasizing the breadth of your experience depends on what you're looking for.

The Generalist's Advantages

Positioning yourself as a generalist could be effective if you:

  • Target Small Companies: "A company with fewer than 500 employees may see a job seeker with a broad base of skills as giving them more for their money," says Dave Upton, founder and CEO of ExecuNet. At tiny companies or startups, a broad array of skills is often essential due to the need to wear different hats, he adds.
     
  • Target Downsizing Companies: Organizations that consolidate functions will often want someone who can do many things, such as a single HR generalist who can handle compensation and benefits as well as recruiting functions, says Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson.
     
  • Will Take Any Job: Recruiters agree that the scattershot approach yields scattershot results even in the best of times. But if you simply want a foot in the door of a company -- any company, doing anything, anywhere -- selling yourself as a jack-of-all trades could pay off.

The Specialist Positioning

Selling yourself as a specialist is preferable if you:

  • Know Exactly What You're Looking For: If you're sure about what you want and know how your skills match up to the requirements, make the case that you're the one they need and don't muddy your resume with a variety of unrelated skills.
     
  • Work in a Competitive Industry: These days, employers who used to receive dozens of resumes for a position may see hundreds or thousands. The person who fits the job best, particularly in a competitive field, is more likely to get the job than someone who can do a bit of everything, recruiters say.
     
  • Seek a Job Requiring Specialized Skill:  An employer filling a job that requires deep knowledge of industrial automation, forensic accounting or video game design, to name a few, can usually find a candidate with the exact skills to match the job. If you don't have the specific skills, your knowledge of gardening, accounting or music theory, while nice to have, won't make up that deficit.

The Best Approach

Still not sure which approach is best? Recruiters recommend playing it safe by positioning yourself as a "specialist, with breadth." To do this:

  • Research a job listing and the company to find out exactly what skills are needed and what other skills might be useful.
     
  • Emphasize the depth of your expertise in the most necessary job skills -- the ones that actually match the job description -- and add your compatible skills at the bottom of the resume.
     
  • Don't send out a hodgepodge resume. You're more likely to confuse the recruiter or the hiring manager, who may think of you as a dabbler without depth.

This tactic, recruiters say, will cover your bases by showing the breadth and depth of your skills, and that could be a winning combination in a tight job market.

"When more people are vying for the same jobs, it's even more important to show your skills fit well," says Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing. "If you are a generalist, then you should be able to tweak your resume to fit the position. A resume should show me how you fit the requirements, not make me guess."

Cross-Wilson agrees. "If you possess the 'nice to have' skills, then show them, but not at the expense of the 'must have' skills," she says. "In most cases, if you are not competitive on the must-haves, you will not get the job."

Make your resume shine with help from Monster's resume writing experts! 

Latest Jobs

CareersUSA
Posted: 10/02/2014
Boca Raton, FL, 33487
CareersUSA
Posted: 10/02/2014
West Greenwich, RI, 02817
CareersUSA
Posted: 10/02/2014
Orlando, FL, 32816
CareersUSA
Posted: 10/02/2014
Norristown, PA, 19403
CareersUSA
Posted: 10/02/2014
Boynton Beach, FL, 33426

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.55.59-210
eTrustLogo