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Looking like a 'Jack of All Trades' Can Hurt Employment Prospects

Rightly or wrongly, many companies today are looking for specialists, not generalists.

To HR teams and hiring managers, a job vacancy usually represents a specific problem which demands a specific solution - and we mean that literally. In today's business environment, sometimes a job will be initially offered for the duration of one particular project.

Added on 24.02.2014

So, if your CV contains page after page of skills and experience that don't relate closely to the job at hand (even if it also shows that you can do the advertised role too), you are most likely hurting your employment prospects. You risk overwhelming or distracting HR and line managers, who may think 'over-qualified' and then 'over-priced'.

There are two ways around this problem: (a) tailoring job applications; and (b) letting your favourite competencies find you a job.

When going for specific roles, tailor your application

If you have an advertised vacancy in mind, then you should always tweak your CV and your application to suit the job on offer. Resist the temptation to expound at length on attributes and skills that you have not been asked to demonstrate; instead zero in on what is needed to fulfill the role and focus on that.

Remember that the company has identified a set of needs that you must meet: that is your prime purpose as far as they are concerned. You can briefly mention skills and experience that aren't strictly relevant but do this separately; always address the job in hand first and foremost.

Show what you can do, not what you have done

If you want to be put forward for roles based on skill set, then you need to snip and prune that huge bloated CV to a short, snappy attention-grabber. The key here is to show what you can do and do well, not just what you have done and have 'picked up along the way'.

A good recruitment consultant (hint hint) will be able to help you do this, but here's the basic steps to follow.

Step 1: What would your dream job involve?

Which of your abilities do you most enjoy using on a daily basis? Try to come up with no more than five key skills.

Step 2: What problems can you solve?

Here's where you need to join the dots for any potential employer. Using the skills above, what purpose(s) can you show that you serve - and how does that relate to their bottom line? How will your skills make (or save) their business money?

Step 3: Now Prove It!

Next you need to show your track record in doing what you've said you can do. Make it easy for your employer to justify the expense of taking you on. Demonstrate problems that you have solved in the past.

Step 4: Remember That Less Is More

You need to demonstrate quickly and simply that you can do what you say you can, so don't get bogged down in all the nitty gritty. You're listing key achievements that demonstrate the key competencies you chose above, not giving a blow by blow account of everything you've ever done.

If you do this right you'll get a chance to go into detail at all the interviews you're going to get from grateful and interested employers!