Why Having Too Many Options Open Can Hurt Your Job Search

Have you sat down, maybe recently, to create or update your resume -- only to find yourself paralyzed because you're afraid to hard-angle it toward one particular type of role?

Maybe you're thinking, "I just want to keep all of my options open right now."

And that's understandable. Options are great. In fact, I'm on a plane as I write this and the flight attendant just asked me if I wanted regular vodka or grapefruit vodka. (YES, turns out grapefruit vodka is a thing. And, be assured, I went with it.)

My point -- You don't want to be so stringent in your mindset that you miss out on something unexpectedly great, just because you were locked in on that ONE thing. 

However (You knew a "but" was coming) ... 

If you try to keep piles of possibilities open for yourself ("I think I want to work in digital marketing, but I might want to go back into operations. And I really love teaching, so maybe I should be a trainer ..."), it's going to be incredibly hard to create a resume that makes it instantly clear to the people on the receiving end how and why you make sense.

And, if you don't make sense to the decision makers (very quickly), guess where your resume goes?

Into the big, fat NO pile.

And that's one option you for sure aren't aiming for.

(BTW, the grapefruit vodka? Oh, heck yes.)

The bummer reality is that, even though we all really wish that those reviewing our resumes would magically connect the dots for us -- and make the correlations between what we've done and what we could do? They're not going to.

They won't, because they don't have to. For every role you apply for, there's going to be one, five or 25 other people in the mix who have resumes that make it very easy for the reviewer to see an obvious skills and experience match.

These are the people who will land the interview first.

These are the people who speak directly to the target audience. They've studied what the jobs they're applying for require, and what potential employers value, and they're introducing themselves as a "smack-in-the-forehead" obvious match.

They aren't trying to cover all of their bases.

They aren't trying to keep all options open. 

They understand that, when you try to speak to multiple, disparate audience at once, you dilute the power of your message across every single channel. 

These are the people you're competing with, for every job. 

So you've got to bring your A-game.

That said, if you've been trying to keep multiple options open (for fear of missing out on something), here's what you might do instead:

Choose an Avenue A.

What's the most likely or most desired next move for you? Consider making this your main focus for the next 30 days (or whatever time increment works for you). 

When you do this, it becomes so much easier to craft a resume that speaks directly to your target audience, and illustrates how you line up with the most common deliverables for that type of job.

It will also simplify how you go about your search, because you won't feel completely overwhelmed as you look at marketing jobs, operations jobs, trainer jobs, etc.

But won't I miss out on something?

Probably not. Setting an Avenue A certainly doesn't mean you can't entertain other options should they present themselves (ahem, grapefruit vodka). Heavens, no.

Instead, it eases the process of creating or updating your resume, and will help keep you focused on a day-to-day basis.

You can always modify that core resume if an opportunity comes along that's a bit outside of your primary focus area. But, by having a target message, you'll make it a whole lot easier for people to "get" what you're all about.

And when people "get" you? 

You get the interview.

 

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Banalities