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Master Resumes for the Serious Job Seeker

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Employers today expect targeted job search documents and well-prepared job candidates. One generic resume and cover letter for all potential employers simply is not very effective in this tough job market. If you want to get serious about your job search, create a master resume with all the details.

The master resume is not just a template--it includes all you have done in your "public life;" it includes all your educational experiences, work experiences, volunteerism, clubs/organization activities, research, and perhaps even interests and ideas. With a master resume, it is simple to sit down with the job description and pull the relevant information from the master to create the targeted resume or cover letter. You can also fill out the job description, even help create a teaching philosophy, prepare for an interview, as well as prepare for a successful job negotiation. It is no longer necessary to re-brainstorm each time or search in multiple places for the specific information you might need.

No one knows you better than you, but it is also easy to forget the details that make you unique and set you apart from your competition. Fine points are easily forgotten--especially when excited or nervous or when the pressure is on--like during a serious job search or when you up against a deadline!  Great stories of accomplishments often get scattered by the wayside during stressful times. The master resume has the positive benefit of reminding you of all you have accomplished!

The master resume should include everything you have done in the "public" world. However, you do not need to list details about your "private" life such as: marital status, siblings, children, religion, height, weight, ethnicity, or country of origin because these things do not matter in the job search.

To begin, sit down and start to gather the information--list everything! Do NOT worry about length or format. The master resume is likely to be multiple pages in length and that is okay. Keep in mind that this lengthy version of your public life is just for your use--it is not for anyone else. You will create a one (or two) page polished and targeted resume when actually applying for a position.

The list below is to help get you started:

  • Supervisor names, company/organization name, city, all contact information, hours worked, amount paid, dates
  • Work/ volunteerism: All responsibilities and duties
  • What you learned and accomplished in the experience
  • Technology/computer skills used and developed
  • Projects (team or individual), lessons, research, interests
  • Leadership roles
  • Other skills developed, hobbies, sports
  • Service, volunteerism, memberships, organizations
  • Education: certifications, licenses, diplomas, degrees, continuing education

For everything you list, focus on what you accomplished and what made you especially proud. Everything counts--volunteerism, paid or unpaid work, classes, practicums, student teaching, projects, and teams! Use as much detail (dates, names, places) as possible. Not all the information will make it to a targeted resume, but some details may be relevant for a future job application or interview.

Continue to add to this master list. It does not stop when you get a job! This is something that should continue to grow with you and your career. Save it to cloud storage, print it out once in a while, and email it to yourself occasionally so that you have it in several places. Above all, review it frequently and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

This is a bit more work up front. But in the long run, it will serve you well.


Leanne Ralstin, Career Development Specialist

Career Center, University of Idaho

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