How to Create a Master Resume and Save Time on Your Job Applications
A master resume is a comprehensive collection of all your professional experiences. While not intended to be shared in job applications, it can be used as a tool for creating targeted resumes without having to start from scratch every single time. In this post, we will explore how to write your master resume, guide you through the process of utilizing it to create tailored resumes for your job applications, and provide advice on consistently updating it.
1. Take inventory of Your Career Experiences
Write down everything you’ve ever done in your career. It may help to do so chronologically. You may also want to dig up old resumes and cover letters. Refer to job descriptions of your previous roles to assist you in that process.
In your professional experiences, include all of your responsibilities, duties, and accomplishments. In your educational history, list your degrees and majors, relevant courses, academic honors/awards, projects, and certificates.
Then, think beyond those experiences, and record your skills, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, memberships, publications, and anything that may be relevant to share with a prospective employer. In this step, the more detail the better; don’t worry about the length of the document!
2. Incorporate the Information Into a Resume Format
After gathering all the information, it’s time to put it into a resume format by creating sections and bullet points.
Under each professional experience, aim at creating a bullet point for each of your main job responsibilities and related key accomplishments; don’t be weary of the number of bullet points. In order to avoid repetition and create strong bullet points, use Harvard Action Verbs to start off each point.
Ensuring your master resume is well formatted will save you a lot of time reformatting every time you make a copy for a new job application.
3. Categorize Your Experiences by Function/Industry
If you have professional experiences that range across a variety of functions and/or industries, it may be helpful to categorize your experiences accordingly.
For example, a professional that has worked in both Marketing and Sales may want to create a visual cue that indicates which experiences fall under each category. You may tackle this in a variety of ways, such as color coding or creating a “Marketing” and a “Sales” section.
Therefore, depending on whether the job you’re applying to is in Marketing or Sales, you’ll be able to easily pick out the relevant experiences from your master resume.
4. Create a Customized Copy For Each Application
Every time you want to apply to a job, you can make a copy of the master resume and use it as a starting point to create a customized version. Once you read the job description, you can immediately eliminate the evidently irrelevant experiences on your master resume copy. Think of it like Michaelangelo carving from one block of marble to create David.
Then, go back to the job description and read it line by line to find correlating experiences in your master resume copy. Once you’re left with only the suitable experiences, you can incorporate keywords from the job listing into your master resume copy.
This is one of many ways you can beat the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and get your application seen by the hiring manager. For more tips on ramping up your resume, check out this post.
5. Keep Improving Your Master Resume
As you’re creating customized copies for each specific job application, you may come up with improved ways of describing your experiences. Therefore, you can keep going back to your master resume and updating the information or adding on more.
There are also key points in your career, such as getting a new job or a promotion, when you will want to make major updates to your master resume.
Sometimes, it’s challenging to remember every single career experience we’ve had, so a master resume can serve as a central repository of all your professional experiences. It can be an important reference point and a great way to reflect on your career path.
The master resume can also make the job search process at any point in your career seem less daunting. Although it can take some time to initially draft, in the long run it’s a great time saving tool that can save you from constantly re-writing and re-formatting each resume from scratch for each job application.
– Katerina Nicolaou, Account Manager
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