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Alison Doyle

Jack of All Trades

By November 17, 2007

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I saw a resume the other day that reminded me of the old saying "Jack of all trades, master of none." The job seeker definitely has skills - lots of them. However, if I was the hiring manager I'd be wondering what position the person was interested in and qualified for, because there was so many skills listed on the resume.

There definitely can be too much of a good thing, when it comes to job searching. Prospective employers want to know why you are a strong candidate for the job and why your skills are a good match, not everything you might be able to do.

Instead of providing all your skills and experience in your resume and cover letter, it makes sense to take the time (and yes, I know it takes time, but, it's worth it) to focus your resume and write a targeted cover letter that specifically addresses how your qualifications match the position you are applying for.

Susan Heathfield, About.com Human Resources Guide, explains why it's so important to make sure that your resume stands out in the crowd in her article Why This Resume Rocks. When a hiring manger reviews hundreds of resumes, your cover letter and resume have to be eye-catching or they aren't going to get noticed. And getting your application materials noticed is what effective job searching is all about.

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Photo Alison Doyle

November 21, 2007 at 8:38 am
(1) TimD says:

Someone should also tell recruiters to stop advertising jobs that require 100 specialties and maybe job seekers will stop putting them all on their resumes. For years, especially in the tech industry, recruiters have put ALL programming languages and skillsets, even if they are unrelated, on their job listings. This caused the problem and job seekers are only reacting to that when creating these seemingly un-targeted profiles.

November 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm
(2) Larry l says:

This is a nasty world of certifications and licenses almost every job I find I need a certification, I run heavy equipment I’m a mechanic welder and truck driver I got my certs the hard knocks way all from experience starting in 1970 so it makes me sick to know that the later generations with the certs are getting the jobs ,there missing so much in that they were not taught the little tricks of the trade as we were and I speaking for millions of guys and women like me so I guess what sums it up is that

December 18, 2009 at 1:05 am
(3) Aaron says:

I am definitely a “Jack of all trades” type person — I know to focus my resumes, as you wisely suggest in this article, but my real problem is that I have yet to see a job that really fits me; most employers seem to want an expert in one or two particular areas — whereas my expertise is my diverse knowledge in MANY areas.

How do I make that work for me? What kinds of jobs are well-suited for people with a passion to learn anything that runs across their eyesight? Does such a thing exist?

January 23, 2010 at 3:13 am
(4) Don says:

Likewise, I’m a JOAT, and with lots of life experiences, maturity, wisdom, but as others here said, there seems to be an over-reliance on some preset formula out there. And it doesn’t fit us. Even though, I’m confident I could do at least as good of a job at it, as those who have the “right” resume. I suppose it’s just easier for the HR person, if he can just go down a “safe” checklist of qualifications, rather than trying to assess each person individually. And it’s less risky for the HR person — he can show that he hired someone with all the right credentials, even if he doesn’t work out so great. But if he used subjective judgment, then the HR person has a more difficult time justifying it to his superiors.

Regardless, us JOATs have a lot to offer. It would be good if professionals in job searching had some ideas to offer. Starting to feel worthless, despite a lifetime of work, learning, and experience.

March 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm
(5) Tawanna says:

Thanks everyone for your comments. I definitely agree. I majored in English in college and love to read and write, but I can do almost any job because I am smart and can learn. My most successful position has been in sales,and I have been in the military, but that did not stop me for teaching for a couple of years. I had to find a job that interests me and that I enjoy because the truth of the matter is a lot of our life experiences we can apply as a skill that was learned.

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