How do you keep track of variations of your resume?
November 4, 2013 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Here's a question that seems like it should be pretty basic, and yet I'm struggling! I'm applying to summer internships in many different fields (journalism, consulting, PR, etc) and am trying diligently to tailor my resume and cover letters to each individual place. But for resumes, it's frustrating to try to keep track of what belongs in each specific version. Do you have any strategies for keeping things organized? I'm thinking of making a template with allll of my experience and verbose descriptions, then trimming it down as needed every time. Any feedback on this idea, or other strategies?
posted by estlin to Work & Money (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a "jobsearch" folder on my computer and I make a subfolder named [job title] - [company name] for each application and save my tailored resume and cover letter there along with maybe a text file of some talking points / interview prep.
posted by ghharr at 3:17 PM on November 4, 2013

That's more or less what I do--I have a "master resume", which includes blurbs on basically everything interesting or impressive that I've ever done--and I cut it down to the most relevant/recent things each time I need it. If I expected to frequently be using two or more distinct variants for different fields, I'd probably maintain masters for both.
posted by kagredon at 3:24 PM on November 4, 2013

Ditto, EXCEPT I zip the resume, too. A zipped file can't be opened and accidentally overwritten/changed, so the copy I sent them remains ready to carry into an interview if I'm called up.

And the folder has the date I sent it encoded (Company YYMMDD), because I've looked for new jobs several times over the years.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2013

Similar to what other people have said: I have files
  • katrielalex-resume-software
  • katrielalex-resume-finance
  • ...
plus one for each actual job application.
posted by katrielalex at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2013

I create a subdirectory. That will contain the resume, the cover letter and any other attendant forms, notes, transcripts, letters of recommendation etc. etc. that the job requires.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:51 PM on November 4, 2013

I had master templates for general job types. So I had serialslibrarian_resume and electronicresourceslibrarian_resume and referencelibrarian_resume and then I could use one of those basic job types to craft a resume for a specific job pretty quickly. (Which I then saved as specificjob_resume_date.)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:03 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I kept various versions of my resume that highlighted different skill sets or interests when I first left college. I had resumes and cover letters targeted to non-profits, to my administrative skills, to my work in schools, etc. Then, I would customize based on the particular job, and save each version that I sent out so that I could go back to it and steal from it if I needed similar language in a new application. Mine were files called "Draft Resume - Teaching", "Draft Cover Letter - Admin", etc.
posted by JannaK at 4:11 PM on November 4, 2013

Check your MeMail.
posted by rhizome at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2013

If you have Adobe FrameMaker, it's easy to create a master resume and then conditionalize certain parts of it so they appear only when particular tags are active. You can then keep all the content in one document and automatically produce PDFs for specific markets.

Of course FrameMaker is expensive and has a steep learning curve, so it isn't something you would want to buy just for resume use. But if you already have it...
posted by kindall at 4:20 PM on November 4, 2013

I have master resumes which contain the year in the file name. Then each tailored one has some of shorthand in the file name - like Sm1tten Resume 2013a for administrative roles, Sm1tten Resume 2013b for book keeping roles... I used to do the "one master, then tailor" scenario but it got tiresome as the search went on.
posted by sm1tten at 6:41 PM on November 4, 2013

I pared my resume down to I think three versions, for the three main jobs I was applying to - i.e. Resume_Widget_Manager, Resume_Widget_Supervisor, Resume_Senior_Widget_Supervisor. I had Word docs and PDFs of those as well so I would always have the master. I saved everything in Dropbox so I didn't have to worry about losing them.

Every time I applied, I opened the relevant main doc and then immediately saved as it with the name of the company and job - Resume_Acme_Widget_Manager. Then I tweaked it a little bit if necessary, saved again. Then I saved as again on my desktop, this time with something generic like Resume_My_Name.pdf, in whatever format the application called for (I prefer PDF but sometimes they specified), and submitted that.

I did the same with cover letters. I am glad I'm not the only one who is so neurotic about being this organized! I also kept track of all my applications in a spreadsheet.
posted by radioamy at 7:45 PM on November 4, 2013

I have a big list of everything I've ever done, and a bunch of subdirectories, one per application, containing the cover letter, the final resume I sent in for that, and copies of the job posting, all email correspondence, and whatever other notes I might have. If I get my resume reviewed by somebody, if an interviewer comments on any part of it, etc.

When I apply for a new job, I copy-paste an old resume into a new file just to get the formatting and then rewrite the text using my big list. That's when I go back through those post-interview notes, expanding the bits anybody cared about at the expense of the ones nobody ever brought up.

In the past, I've also set up personal instances of bug trackers, where every job application had its own trouble ticket and so on. But I think that's overkill.

I'm a strong believer in Structured Procrastination.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:46 PM on November 4, 2013

Oh, and I have another copy of all this on a second hard drive. Because that's a mistake I'm determined to make only twice.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:47 PM on November 4, 2013

maybe not the most useful advice if you are only going to use MS Word, but i write my resume in LaTeX, and i have a master document, and then each job or skill or item, however you want to divide it, has it's own file that the master document references. then i comment/un-comment items as i need. an added benefit of this is that i can keep a lot of detailed information about each job i've had with the information i have on my resume. for example, i keep the contact information for my previous job with the information that goes on my resume in the same file.

to go a step further, you can use git or mecrurial to version track your resume.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:58 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have the same problem - would you mind sharing your solutions (either via MefiMail or giving a very short summary here)?
posted by MessageInABottle at 7:45 AM on November 5, 2013

I wrote a website that does this in response to a similar question a year ago. It's not 100% done, but anybody can MeMail me for the URL.
posted by rhizome at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2013

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