Tailoring a resume to the job you’re applying for is best candidate practice 101. Unfortunately, it often takes a lot of time to do it well, and can therefore be somewhat overlooked. Sadly, a recruiter can spot a generalized resume a mile off, and that’s if the automated candidate tracking system even lets yours through.
Therefore, it’s important to do it right every time, and with a master resume, this process becomes incredibly efficient. From a single master document, you’re able to pick and choose from every tiny detail of your work history and education to tailor a specific resume in just a matter of minutes.
This article will explain how that works, and give you a master resume example template to get you started. Before we get into the meat of the matter, it’s still worth pointing out some of the fundamentals of resumes, so that we can refer back to them in the context of a master resume.
The working world isn’t like it was 40 years ago. As corporations continually violate implicit contracts with their employees, loyalty and longevity aren’t as rewarded as they once were, and consequently, talent flits between companies – sometimes even between industries – looking for the salary raise they deserve.
This is a good modern strategy for climbing the corporate ladder, and in many instances, each step up is a direct progression of the previous role. However, this is often not the case, and after only ten years in the workplace, many people have a wide range of experience across mismatched and seemingly unrelated roles.
For reference, here are some of the key features of a typical resume, as laid out by the University of Washington:
- Personal Information
- Work and Related Experience
- Awards and Honors
- References (3-5 people)
We don’t need to go into too much detail about these sections, but we will refer back to this when comparing the master reference.
One important point to remember is that a good resume should be only one to two pages long, and this is where things can get difficult. When it comes to writing the relevant sections on education experience and skills, many candidates find themselves putting in too much information.
A mature business student with ten years of previous experience will no doubt feel the sting of chopping their extensive history down to one or two sentences when applying for an accounting position but, when skills and experience come from multiple disciplines, this is a key ability needed to keep your resume appealing but concise.
You’re probably familiar with having to chop and change all these components for each job application; creating a bespoke version of your resume for every submission, and sometimes even rewriting parts of it to highlight the appropriate sections. This is a mentally draining process that becomes more laborious with each application, but there is a simpler way. This is where a master resume comes in.
A master resume is the full record of your professional and educational history. It is essentially the opposite of the concise, one-page summary that’s been tailored to a specific application; it contains all of your qualifications, accomplishments, and training.
The length of your master resume will depend on your history and range of experience. If you’re just starting out, your entire resume may already fit into two pages, but if you have been in the workforce for a decade or more, it could be a very long document, and as such it’s important to keep yours well organized. We’ll go over how to do that in a later section but in the meantime, here are some key elements to the master resume:
The strength of a master resume is in finding transferable skills that employers will consider, in roles for which you might not be a perfect match, and in the ease with which you can pluck these from a unified document and insert them into a job application with little need to rely on memory.
It’s definitely worth emphasizing that your master resume is not typically intended to be submitted on its own. A seven-page document of your life history is not what any recruiter expects or wants to see on their desk and as such this should instead be considered a reference document.
However, there are some places where a master resume can be published. On job boards, where demonstrating the length and breadth of your experience could come in handy, it’s possible to upload this document for potential employers to browse through, using keywords and specific searches.
This document may be a large job to compose, but it’s an investment in time and energy for the future, as well as providing accuracy and specificity bonuses to each application thereafter. Take a look at the following reasons you need to build your master resume:
The format of the masters resume we’re going to go over is great for creating or updating your LinkedIn profile. The order of the information is based on the order LinkedIn prefers to use, so it should match up well.
So, this is a document that covers a detailed history of your working experiences. However, it’s necessary to organize it efficiently for ease of use, and it’s important to know what to consider and in which order. Here’s a framework template covering how and what to include in your master resume.
Remember that this isn’t a resume that’s going to be used for submitting job applications directly. So, looking back to the traditional resume, you can skip the first two sections – personal information and objectives – entirely, or in some cases, add a more generalized version of these at the end. Here’s how your resume should look:
Now you’ve got your sections outlined and you know what your master resume should look like, all you have to do is get started. This might be easier said than done though, of course, so here are some tips for beginning the process.
To get you started here are the first five steps in writing a master resume:
1. Make a dated list – Go over each section of the template systematically and begin a unified list. Put down every job you’ve had and every position you’ve held within them. Each item should be assigned a date (don’t worry if you can’t get it down to the day, but at least try to make sure the year and duration are more or less accurate).
List down all the volunteer work and internships, training, education, classes, publications, and skills, in roughly the order you see them in the template above. Don’t worry if it isn’t in chronological order, simply list them as they come to you.
2. Headers - This is where you’ll arrange them in order. Make the framework of your document using the headers from the previous section and start arranging from your list, all the items in chronological order, with the most recent at the top. For example, if you’re fresh out of college, put your degree in at the top, and any diplomas or module details below it.
3. Plan to Edit – This means using a plain, unformatted document that will allow you to add items as you go through your career without hassle. It will also make it easier to copy and paste sections into your tailored resumes.
4. Arrange neatly – Use bullet points and subheadings to separate ideas and make the information visually appealing. This is with the reader in mind, for example, when you want your full master resume on display on job boards, but it also applies to when you’re pasting information into your tailored resume. As with a standard resume, large blocks of text should be avoided wherever possible.
5. Make use of keywords – Begin the description of your accomplishments and roles with the key verbs that you’ll use in your tailored resume. For example, “Organized, facilitated, directed and executed a [series of deliverables] …”. From there it’s easy to choose the action words you’ll want to use in your job application. Whichever word matches the role most closely is ready for you to paste in. One final thing to consider is that the order of these headings isn’t set in stone. Education is typically important, but not always, and may be better placed below relevant work experience for some roles. This is something only you can decide, based on the roles you’re looking for.
Jabord can help you with the entire process of designing, compiling, and tailoring your master resume. With Jabord you can even take your resume to a higher level with complete and accessible interactive candidate resume pages.
Using your master resume, you can fill out a personal page with all the details that make you who you are. So, if the process seems difficult, or you want to learn how to maximize the power of your master resume, check it out!
Now that your master resume is complete, here are some simple tips on how to turn it into a tailored resume.
From the master resume template, you should have a complete document of your history of work and education. From here, it’s a simple matter of copying sections of this document into a tailored resume for when you’re ready to apply for jobs.
This is already a much more efficient use of your time, but there are a few ways you can make it even easier on yourself:
Start with the main document – Save your master resume in a new document for editing (make sure it’s a new document!). From here, you’ll already have the subheadings and notes you need, and it’s easier to cut out redundant information than to paste in what you’re looking for. Begin the process of pruning your master resume until all that’s left is what matters.
Be ruthless – don’t forget the fundamentals of a good resume. Recruiters often have hundreds, maybe thousands of these to look for, so keep your document simple and concise and communicate your fitness accurately. Your ability to throw away parts of your history that are significant to you but not to your recruiter is an act of self-control. However, one of the strengths of this process is that everything you cut out remains on the master document, so can be referenced in your cover letter or in interviews later, even if it isn’t suitable for the application itself.
Understand Applicant Tracking Systems – automated review programs will be looking for keywords to customize the list of applications recruiters get to skim over. Make use of your keywords in your tailored resume, to boost your chances of getting picked up.
Jabord can help you with the entire process, from filling in your resume template to applying it to a detailed and interactive resume that highlights your job fit in a multi-dimensional way.
A master resume is a comprehensive resume that chronicles your every achievement relevant to the working world. It’s the resume that everyone really wants to write in every application, but can’t because of relevance and space constraints.
It consolidates all the hard work of resume tailoring into one long session, saving you countless hours and headaches down the line when it comes to simply cropping out unnecessary information to form each resume.
Keeping your master document up to date and adding every minute detail immediately allows you to speed up the process of job applications but the benefits don’t stop there. Using a master document allows you to better get through applicant tracking systems, spot unique hidden trends in your professional nature, and consequently find and express your fitness for exceptional roles.