Customize and Keep Your Resumes

SC&C Tailor Your ResumeAre you a “One-and-Done” sort of person? Not me! A long time ago I learned that there are some things you just don’t throw away.

Of course, you have to discriminate, or you’d end up with every single gum wrapper you ever touched (and a bunch of concerned relatives wondering if now was the time to have you locked away).

So, agreed, no gum wrappers. But how about that resume you just wrote to go with that job application? We’ve all been browbeaten into believing that every job is unique; that if we truly want a job, it’s worth putting in the effort to make a customized resume.

Add Dates to Your Resumes

Believe me, I worked long and hard to convince people that that’s true, and I’m certainly not going to try to undo all that good work! But don’t delete it… Date it!

I was looking over a colleague’s shoulder as he sought a file for me and spotted a folder going by the name “Resume.”

“You keep your resume on your work computer?” I asked.

“Not just one,” he said. “All of them.”

He scrolled back and opened the folder to show me the contents. There they were, all laid out, year after year, month after month. I made him give me a screen capture because, after we’d talked for a bit, I was convinced that he had a really great idea.

Past Resumes Trigger Experiences and Skills

“I got this job,” he said, “because I was looking at a 1997 resume and discovered I had the experience and perfect skills for it. Skills, I might add, that I had completely forgotten about.”

He was right, of course. Most of us have had a variety of jobs in our careers, and a variety of consequent responsibilities and experiences.

Nessuno conosce la vocazione per la quale è destinato. Miglior provarli tutti, credo. (No man knows the vocation for which he is destined. Best to try them all, I think.) – Leonardo Da Vinci

SC&C Keep all of your resumesYou may have hated that first job at the drive-thru window, but you stuck with it and eventually got promoted to the night shift assistant manager before you moved on. Putting it out of your mind doesn’t change the fact that you were responsible for scheduling the shifts for 25 employees and more. Suddenly you have years of experience you can put toward that HR job you’re applying for.

Lying on your resume gets you fired; remembering on your resume gets you hired. – David Carter

Tailor Your Resume for the Situation

There is no one size fits all resume. If you happen to be attending a job fair or industry specific convention, by all means create a generic resume in case you find something really intriguing, and focus it (to the extent you can) for the type of event it is. But I might go as far as to put a header on the resume stating: “This is a general purpose resume. Please contact me for specific details.

Even smarter, my coworker had kept all his cover letters, too. Not only do they remind us of skills that we possess, but they can be treated like boilerplate text where, if you came up with a particularly memorable description in one letter, you can pick it up and drop it in your new cover letter. With a little tuning to make it contextual, a sentence or a paragraph can look pristine and new.

Use Professional References

Talk to your references to see if they will speak to your potential employer before including them. While it’s great to know the owners of the company and have them speak for you, make sure you include your immediate supervisor too because they can give more practical information about your work habits and abilities. These are professional references, and the sort that are most often preferred.

There is nothing wrong with including academic references, if you’re applying for grants or fellowships, or if you don’t have sufficient professional references yet. Just make sure it’s a professor or an instructor who actually remembers who you are from the crowd of faces they must see every year.

If you need to include some personal references, it’s best to include coworkers, advisors, coaches and people that will have some credibility in the employer’s eyes. What I’m saying is your neighbor, Jim, should probably not be your first choice.

The Takeaway

So remember, fresh resume, every time, for every job. That doesn’t change. What does change is that you save the old ones, and refer to them when you’re writing the new ones. Mine them for those forgotten skills; all those little golden particles will eventually add up to a nugget that is well worth your time.

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives during their job searches. Their clients have moved up in their careers and achieved significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200, to learn how SC&C and their team of professionals can help you, and connect with SC&C on LinkedIn at

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