Why You Should Build a Resume Library – and How to Do It

Career Advice

If you have a wide range of skills that don’t neatly fit into a single discipline, or you’re applying for multiple jobs in a single firm, consider building a resume library. The brain cells and time you invest in building a strong portfolio of resumes can pay off in the form of a job offer.

WHY BUILD A RESUME LIBRARY?

A small collection of resumes that outline your skillsets in more detail than a standard resume can serve as your professional “well,” which you can draw from to customize your resume into one that can propel you further through the application process and on to an interview. Here are some other reasons.

1. Distinguishing Diverse Experience

Many of us have performed a variety of duties that don’t neatly fit together. Your cybersecurity, intelligence or contracting background is quite different from the executive support or aide de camp work you once did. Breaking each major skillset out in more detail makes you ready to apply for any position that requires a deep level of technical expertise. At the same time….

2. Linking Diverse Experience

Some skillsets do overlap, even if it isn’t readily obvious. Some of the best protocol officers are those with logistics experience. And those who come at security assistance with an education and training background will readily find linkage that can be translated into successful lines on a resume.

3. A Tailorable Approach

Nothing speaks to a hiring official like a customized fit for the position to which you’re applying. Resumes full of skills that are exactly what the position calls for are not written by accident. Pulling together the resume that mirrors the posting is achievable if you have a menu of solidly written lines about your specific skills already cued up. This is especially important when you’re applying for several jobs in the same organization. The same resume submitted repeatedly might homogenize your experience to the reader, and could possibly be overlooked in future applications

HOW TO BUILD IT

Your resume library can be a single document or a collection. Begin with your “Master,” or the resume you have right now. Find the top three or four skillsets that seem to stand out, and name a separate resume for each. Then try one of these approaches to enhance each resume.

1. Job Date or Job Title

Find those jobs in your resume that you’d like to do again. Which ones get you excited still when you reflect on the work? Of course, if you have a skillset in an area that no longer interests you (if it ever did), don’t bother writing a full resume on it. But as my friend – a former public affairs officer turned criminal forensic analyst – will tell you, don’t discount the skills you acquired in a job you wouldn’t want to do again. There are usually at least a few skills you took from the experience that are important to hiring officials.

2. Professional Competencies

Regardless of the types of jobs you’ve performed, there are some skills, often referred to as the “soft skills” that run salient across a variety of job experiences. One of my previous articles describes how to integrate professional competencies into your resume. But if you’re building a resume library, you can build your resume for a few of your strongest professional competencies. These can include leading change, negotiating agreements with stakeholders, or preparing briefings an information papers for senior decision makers. As we progress in our careers to more strategic or nuanced roles, these competencies are often considered as the most valued and critical by a hiring official.

3. Simplicity and Sensibility

To avoid overload – or overkill – try to limit your library to a maximum of four or five resumes. This will also ensure you’ll have time to pull lines from each resume when you need to. The key is to organize and title them in a way that resonates with you. Then start adding a few lines every week until you believe each resume fully captures your experience in that unique area. You’ll soon be preparing a resume that leads a hiring official to a compelling conclusion: You are the perfect fit for the position. Good luck!

Melissa Jordan is an Executive Writer at a US Government agency. With more than 20 years in professional communication and over 16 years of experience working in cross-cultural environments, her most valuable lessons have been learned by trial and error.

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