resumation blues
March 18, 2014 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can streamline the technical aspects of customizing my resume's content in MS Word? (Check under the fold for a description of what I'm envisioning.)

I always use the same basic structure for my resume but, like perhaps most people (?), I have never sent out two resumes that are exactly the same in terms of content. I spend a lot of time copy-and-pasting in and out of already-sent resumes, which is annoying, a little time-consuming, sometimes confusing, and can jeopardize my tenuous control over the document's finicky formatting.

Here's the ideal software / Word plugin (is that even a thing?) as I'm envisioning it in my head: I load up my resume. I select from a checklist which positions/sections I want to include in the resume. Then, for each position, I can select between a number of different "spins" on the text that I've pre-written (or can edit myself a new one).

Does anything near to this concept exist? If not, I imagine there's a zillion bucks for someone in it.

(Please don't suggest writing ready-to-send stock resumes for specific types of positions or emphases. I'm asking this question because I feel the need to customize to a finer grain than that.)
posted by threeants to Work & Money (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here's how I'd do that in Word as it is:

Use a split screen or second monitor. Don't add any formatting until you're done. I doubt the bold and italic is messing you up, so I'd leave font-level formatting in. It's more likely the indents, centering, bullet points, etc. creating the problems, so don't mess with any of that at first.

On one screen, put a plain, unindented Word document that is your unabridged resume, which contains each position or section you could ever want to include in any version of your resume, as well as any wording you could possibly want to use.

On the other screen, put a plain, unindented Word document that is essentially a blank template, with only your name and address and a bare outline of the headings Education, Experience, etc., and anything else that won't change.

Scroll through the unabridged resume on screen 1, and copy-paste whatever you want into the template on screen 2.

Only after you're sure you're done editing the text, then indent or add bullet points to the customized resume.

The real pain in the butt is when you build the unabridged resume, but you would have to do that work anyway to customize your software or plugin.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

This might not be what you want, since it's not in Microsoft Word, but what I've always done is maintain these extra pieces of text and variants in wording on the pasteboard (off to the side, already formatted) in InDesign, which is what I keep my résumé in. Then I drag pieces into place in the layout, taking care to line them up with guides, and export to PDF each time I want a new version. But that might not work if you don't have InDesign and/or need to have your résumé in Word format for better searchability/extraction of terms by corporate bots.

Another method I've seen used for invoices that might work for résumés, too: Maintain your résumé in an HTML format (you can do this with a local file, so it doesn't have to be online), and use JavaScript to make each section clickable to show/hide it. Then show or hide the sections you want and export to PDF from the browser. Alas, again, this only really works if a PDF or HTML résumé is acceptable.
posted by limeonaire at 5:35 PM on March 18, 2014

Jobtabs may be what you want. It has an unlimited 15 day free trial (and in the help menu describes how to keep getting more 15 day uses). It integrates a word processor, browser, database, reminders, etc. It also lets you make different cover letter templates, and can send from your email.
posted by Sophont at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2014

Can you format your resume in Word as a Mail Merge document, and then put your customizable resume content in an Excel file?

That's how I'd do it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:37 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If by any chance you know LaTeX (if you don't, the learning curve may be a bit steep for just this...), you can just "comment out" the sections you don't want to include at any given time. That's what I do.
posted by karbonokapi at 10:23 AM on March 19, 2014

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