You see that posting for your dream job, get excited, then sit down to pull together your resume… only to realize that it is outdated. Now you’re discouraged or you’re staying up all night to pull it together.
What if there were an easier, faster way to pull together a tailored resume when you most need it? Enter the master resume: One document from which you can pull whatever information you need, whenever you need it.
First, what is a master resume?
It’s a reference document that holds all your resume information on your past positions. You will not be sending this out; rather, you will use it to pick and choose what you want to send to any given position so that you can show a future employer that you are a good candidate. Because you are not sending it out, you do not need to spend your energy formatting your master resume, nor do you need to concern yourself with page length. You want to make sure that it is easy for you to read and that it is comprehensive. The goal is for you to be able to find information quickly and easily.
How to make one.
Include all your past positions and any relevant bullet points or phrases. Make sure that they all start with an action verb so that you don’t have to do too much editing or searching when you want to pull from your master document.
One way to start is to take an older resume that you have and start updating and adding to it. What would you add if the length was not an issue? Perhaps you are choosing between two different professional areas and want to showcase the same skills but need to describe them differently. No problem! In a master resume you can create as many bullets as you want under any given job. Protip: Give yourself headings so that you can easily find the skills you want to convey.
As you are adding entries, make sure that you are including relevant skills and leading with appropriate action verbs — ones that might set you apart. Just like other resumes, you will want to have the experience, education, volunteer, presentations, publications, and/or skills sections.
Unlike other resumes, this document is really for you to use as a reference. It is a good idea to update your master resume on a regular basis, perhaps once a quarter.
Once you have the base of your master resume, updating it won’t take too long. Set your calendar reminders now, so that you don’t forget to make your additions. Another bonus of having this information at the ready is that you can use it for your annual performance review.
Now, back to that job posting that caught your attention.
Scan the posting and evaluate their needs vis-à-vis your experience. Go into your master resume and start picking the entries that you can cut and paste into the resume for that job. If you see another job, do the same. Having an updated master resume means that you can quickly and easily tailor your resume for a specific job without having to start with a blank page.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.