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Build a Long Master Resume, Then Cut, Cut, Cut

Cutting TextYou have years of work experience — many years, in fact. You've racked up plenty of accomplishments with several employers, and even won a few awards. But when you put all of that into a resume, you're left with a document that's well over the strongly suggested 1-to-2 page length.

Should you keep it all or cut some?

The answer (surprise!): Keep it all!

"Whuh?!?" you say. "What gives? I thought employers only wanted to see one- or two-page resumes! Even you guys at Pongo say so!"

That's right, we do. But you can keep that three- or four-page document as a master resume, so you have a record of every little and not-so-little skill or accomplishment that might look good to a prospective employer. You never send a master resume to an employer; rather, you use it as the starting point for creating the resumes you will send.

So, when you see a job posting you like, take your most relevant skills from your master resume and put them together for a 1- to 2-page resume that targets the skills and qualifications the employer is seeking for that job.

Here's a practical example. Let's say you're a Technology Specialist and accomplished the following in your most recent position:

  • Migrated 100 desktop PCs from Windows 98 to Windows XP two weeks ahead of schedule.
  • Devised and implemented a ticketing system to triage technology support requests, producing a 25% increase in end-user satisfaction.
  • Researched user requirements and wrote 12 requests for proposal (RFPs) for hardware and software purchases.
  • Managed 10-person technology support and development staff.
  • Implemented and executed a rigorous software testing regimen to ensure compatibility with information architecture.
  • Organized and delivered seven "best practices" presentations to other IT professionals within the corporation.
  • Initiated division-wide Green IT program to reduce utility expenses and properly dispose of unneeded technology assets.
  • Organized and led regular meetings with groups of end users to discuss technology issues.

You have eight bulleted items on your master resume. Now, let's say you find a posting for an IT Manager that emphasizes the following skills and qualifications:

  1. Solid and proven communication skills, especially with end users.
  2. Strong project management skills, specifically in software testing and implementation.
  3. Experience in Microsoft Windows environments.

Of those eight accomplishments in your master resume, which would you include in the resume for this position?

Here's what I would pick, in order of importance:

• Managed 10-person technology support and development staff.

Reason: They want a manager, first and foremost. This says "management experience" right at the top.

• Organized and led regular meetings with groups of end users to discuss technology issues.

Reason: This addresses the requirement for communications skills with end users.

• Migrated 100 desktop PCs from Windows 98 to Windows XP two weeks ahead of schedule.

Reason: This indicates both project management skills and experience in Windows environments. A twofer!

• Implemented and executed a rigorous software testing regimen to ensure compatibility with information architecture.

Reason: Project management, again.

• Initiated division-wide Green IT program to reduce utility expenses and properly dispose of unneeded technology assets.

Reason: This may be an extra, but if they want a manager, they want someone who can handle assets and save money. Having a social conscience can't hurt either.

The three I omitted also have some importance, but that's the stuff you can save for the interview. Once you've selected the points to include, go back and tweak your wording to match their terminology, so it's clear that your accomplishments fit their specific needs.

Do you use a master resume? How does it work for you? Let us know by posting a comment.

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