What is the best way to present yourself on a resume if you are an expert in more than one area? Do you combine your specialties into one resume? Do you have two (or more) separate resumes for each area? I worked with a client this past week that had those exact questions.
He was in the education field and had two separate areas of expertise – Physical Education and ESL (English as a Second Language). Although he had been working in Physical Education his true goal was to land a position as an ESL teacher. He came to me wanting to know if he should have a resume that highlighted both skills so as to show his dual experience or if he should have a resume specifically to target ESL positions.
If you are questioning whether or not a combined resume or individual resumes are right for you there are a few things to consider:
- Does your expertise fall within the same field? If your background is in restaurant management and landscaping there would be no real value in combining those two areas into one resume. You may confuse your reader by including irrelevant information that doesn’t relate to the position you are applying to.
- If your expertise is within the same industry (as with my client) you need to consider whether or not your true passion lies with one or the other. If it does, you will want a resume that focuses on that area. This doesn’t mean eliminating one area of expertise from your resume. You want to take advantage of your comprehensive skills and show the extra value you would bring to the position but place the emphasis on the area you prefer.
- If you have no strong feelings one way or the other and could see yourself in either area of the field a combined resume would be your best bet. This is only when the two areas complement one another and don’t distract from each other. A combined resume will show both areas of expertise equally with no emphasis on one over the other. This approach may work best when sending your resume to a company with no advertised positions.
After talking with my client and discussing where he wants to go, I had a better idea of the resume that would serve him best. Because he truly wanted a position as an ESL teacher I obviously recommended that when targeting ESL positions his resume should focus on his ESL experience as much as possible; however, because his expertise is in the same field we will want to leverage his combined value.
Every situation is different so take a look at what’s going on in your job search, what your background is, and where you want to go in order to choose the right approach for your resume.
by Megan Koehler