Dear HR,

I was just laid off and I need a job fast! What is the best way to spend my time in my job search? I know you say I should tailor my resume and cover letter for each job I apply for, but that takes a lot of time. If I just have one resume and cover letter, I can send it out to at least 25 places every day. At most, I can only apply for five jobs per day with a custom resume for each job.

Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for? Explain to me why sending out a large quantity of resumes won’t work.

Thank you,

Confused about Resumes


Wouldn’t it be better to be seen by a lot of companies rather than just the few that I have time to write targeted resumes for?

Dear Confused about Resumes,

First, we are sorry to hear that you’ve been laid off! We know that is a scary thing to face, and we applaud your tenacity to find a job quickly. Unfortunately, sending out dozens of generic resumes everyday isn’t going to shorten your search. In fact, it might lengthen it.

Do you remember the Friends episode where Rachel sends out hundreds of resumes, all with a major typo on them? Well, that episode is more than 20 years old, and even then, it’s not how Rachel landed her first job in the fashion industry. It’s the act of a desperate person who doesn’t know how to job-hunt and is just hoping for a miracle.

Recruiters can smell desperation. Would you hire a desperate person? In most industries, probably not. Recruiters are looking for competent employees who actually want to work for their companies. They are looking for the person who is going to bring value. If you send them a generic resume and cover letter, what message are you sending? The message they will see is that you didn’t care enough to take the time to craft your materials to their job description.

Even worse, if your resume and cover letter doesn’t fit their job description, how does the recruiter know that you are the right candidate for the job? If you don’t customize your keywords and skill list for the job, your materials might not fit the job description. Even if you know you can do the job, remember that the recruiter or potential employer doesn’t know you.

So, your question is about what will work faster to find a job: quantity or quality. The answer is, undeniably, quality. There are a couple short cuts you can take to speed up your search, though.

Create a resume for each kind of job you want to do

If you are like most job searchers, there’s a few jobs you think you could do reasonably well. The wise thing to do is to create a resume for each kind of job that reflects the keywords employers are looking for in that industry. That way, when you need to customize a resume for a specific employer’s advertisement, all you have to do is take your pre-created resume that most closely fits the advertisement’s criteria and make minor changes to wording to reflect the words used in the ad. This step should save you at least an hour on each job application, but you do have to do a bit of work up front to create a few different resumes.

Keep a text-only resume so you can copy/paste information in job applications quickly

One of our favorite time-saving methods is to have a basic, text-only resume saved in NotePad or TextEditor. You can easily copy/paste information from your previous jobs into each job application, which saves a ton of time.

Keep a log of your answers to job application questions

Job applications usually ask you questions at the end that require a typed response. Before you submit your response, copy/paste the question and your answer in a Word file. Then, next time you have an application with the same question, you can clean up your answer to fit the employer’s job advertisement. Time saved!

Tap Your Network

The absolute best way to find a job quickly is through your network. You should have a solid LinkedIN profile, and you should set the recruiter alert to show you’re looking for a job. You should also email colleagues and let them know you’re looking for a job so they can keep an eye out for jobs that are right for you. You never know—someone might have the power to hire you on the spot. Your network is your most valuable job-hunting asset.

Best of Luck,



2 thoughts on “I Need a Job Fast; Do I Really Need a Custom Resume for Each Job Application?

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