How To Read Between The Resume Lines

Evidence exists that show younger Americans are multifaceted workers who tend to jump from one line of work to another. This is often called career changing or job hopping. This practice, however, may put stress on those with hiring power.

This strange phenomenon leaves college graduates and those entering the workforce as “jacks of all trades, masters of none.” This, however, can be rough for employers.

Questions of experiential abilities and well roundedness have changed over the last 20 years. Let’s look at how to read between these resume lines, and how to tell when variety and experience make for a good recruit as opposed to a bad hire.

How Much Experience Is Enough?

A question many employers are asking right now in light of this “jack of all trades” mindset is are recent college grads and “well rounded” individuals experienced enough to do their best work?

Can they get the job done with their well rounded learning experience, or has it not given them enough time or focus to learn everything about the jobs they’re applying for?

Well, the first thing you need to look at in this case is what experience they have with the job tasks you need them to perform. In many cases, learning about a field will require experience performing certain tasks.

For instance, many marketing classes involve creating marketing plans and working hand in hand with real businesses. Target market analyses, social media, email, and types of physical marketing, are all explored and used in these business plans, fake or real. So this experience is good for a marketing job.

However, online tools, business letter and email writing, knowledge of programs like Excel — these things are often necessary in marketing jobs and not always taught in the marketing classroom, unfortunately.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself: Do they have an understanding of what they will be doing informed by some kind of experience? Because knowing about a job and having the skills necessary to do it are two different things.

Is Variety a Pro or Con?

Some jobs cater to someone with diversity in their experience and learning. For instance, a more social job where an employee is charged with reading different people ad nauseum would call for such experiential variety.

There are two ways in which experiential variety can help you. One is within your field, tackling one kind of job within different settings. The other is more general, allowing you to adapt to a variety of jobs across several different fields.

A good example of one kind of job applying to different settings was given by The University of Alabama on their website. The specific example they gave is how a management degree can bring them to human resources, consulting, and management in many different fields.

As for experience bringing adaptability to different kinds of jobs, a solid example would be found in a business student who took courses in writing. This person may be able to work as a writer or journalist in addition to a job pertaining to their business focus.

Ultimately, it’s situational. Variety is good when adapting is necessary but may be bad for very focused fields.

Is it Worth Re-evaluating our Own Methods?

If we need to change the way we think about hiring, let’s do it. If there’s anything we’ve figured out, it’s that professions and the job market as we know it are always changing. Hanging onto old methods of doing things may hold us back from progress.

Luckily, there are more resources on hiring available to us nowadays. This is due to intense research on the subject, and we should allow it to help us navigate this changing time.

If there’s anything specific we need to open ourselves up to, it’s more strategic hiring. Simple qualifications may just not be enough anymore, because applicants are seemingly all over the map with what they know and can achieve.

For instance, how do we employ these practices with the digital age? The digital age and a varied skill set are without a doubt connected. People learn new things all the time at a rapid pace due to the internet making essentially all information readily available.

Another way of changing previous hiring tactics is to design jobs for the future. This doesn’t mean an entry level job has no method of moving up, but rather, entry level jobs are designed specifically to prepare hirees to take on more “advanced” tasks and job titles in the future.

And you know what we’ve learned? Finding employees who can adapt to change and innovate on what we’re already doing isn’t just necessary, it’s a productive asset. It’s a sign of progress, and that’s how we, as businesses, will need to stay relevant as time goes on.

What’s your experience with hiring jacks of all trades? Let us know in the comments below!

About BrookeFaulkner


I'm a people-person through and through. When I'm not elbows-deep in the inner workings of small business retail, I'm negotiating the mesmerizing world of online community-building and dreaming of new, creative ways to help people connect through the written word. 


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