Steps of a Job Search- Step 3: Master Resumes

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Searching for a job can be overwhelming, and it is often hard to know where to start. There are many things you need to do to create a resume and search for a job, but you can break down the process into manageable steps.

Our “Steps of a Job Search” series highlights these steps. As we go through, follow along with Patricia and Nate (our fictitious examples) to see how it works.


The first blog post (Step 1: Summarize your experience) asked you to make a list of your work and volunteer experience; degrees, certificates, awards; and skills and hobbies.

The second blog post (Step 2: Thinking about possible jobs) focused on generating a list of places you are interested in applying to work.

These exercises helped develop content for your resume. A resume is a document that organizes information for potential employers to review.

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The difference between a master and targeted resume

A master resume compiles ALL your experience in one place. You will not submit a master resume when you apply for jobs. Rather, your master resume provides information to pick and choose from when creating a more targeted resume for a specific job. Your master resume might be more than one or two pages, depending on how much experience you’ve had.

When you apply for a job, you submit a more targeted resume that is tailored to fit the position you are applying for. A targeted resume is a one or two page document that highlights your key skills, achievements, education, and past employment information.

Creating a master resume in seven steps

The following seven steps outline a process for creating a master resume.

  1. closeup of hands writing notes on a notepadWrite down some basic information:

  • Name
  • Contact information
    • Phone number
    • A professional-sounding email address


  1. Write a personal statement.

  • Personal statement

What do you want people to know about you? What experience do you have that makes you stand out from the crowd? You may or may not use this section in your targeted resume (it might be more relevant in a cover letter), but it is good to have a draft in case you need it later.


  1. Write down your experiences, education, trainings, and certificates.

  • Work and volunteer experienceA group of 6 people pose around a raised garden bed.
    • Position title
    • Start and end date of position
    • Name of employer / volunteer organization
    • Location
    • Supervisor name and contact phone number
    • A brief summary of your responsibilities

Repeat until all your professional experiences are recorded.

  • Education
    • Title of degree (High School diploma, Associates degree, etc.)
    • Date earned if you are inclined to share that
    • Name of school
    • Location
    • Emphasis of course work (e.g. Associates Degree in Nursing)

Repeat until all your education is recorded.

  • Training, certificates and awards you received
    • Title of certificate, award, etc.
    • Date
    • Summary of content, award, etc.

Repeat until all your experience is recorded.

  • Hobbies
    • List as many as you would like


  1. Review the information

  • After you have filled out each of the above sections, go through your list and review it. Have you forgotten anything? Can you think of other skills you have or experiences you’ve had that might appeal to employers?


  1. Organize the information

  • Once you are done reviewing, you will organize your master resume. Create headings for each section (like Experience, Education, and Certificates). Within each section, sort each entry by date, with the most recent experiences coming first.


  1. Format your document

  • As you can imagine, there are many different ways to organize and format a resume. Most word processing programs have templates you can use. For example, Microsoft Word has 72 online templates. (In Word, go to FILE, NEW and type in “resume” in the “Search for online templates” search bar. Another option is to google “resume samples.”)

Check out the master resumes of Nate and Patricia to see some examples:

Nate Smith_resume_template

Patricia Jones_resume_template

  • Once you have picked a format, follow the model to build your master resume.
  • Create standard headings, use professional-looking fonts that are easy to read such as Arial or Calibri, and check to make sure the font size is consistent. Paying attention to these formatting details will make you look more professional, and will make it easier for you to copy and paste information from your master resume into a targeted resume later.


  1. Review the final documentTwo people review what one of the people has written on a piece of paper.

  • Once your master resume is done, review it for errors. Ask a friend, family member, or a trusted mentor like a teacher or job counselor to proofread it and ask for their suggestions.
  • If the person reviewing your master resume knows you well, ask them if they can think of any experience you forgot to include.
  • Incorporate changes for a finished product.


Congratulations on completing your master resume! This is what you will use to create targeted resumes for each job you apply for.

But before you do that, you need to know what jobs you are applying for— which we’ll talk about in the next blog post, “Starting the Job Search.”

All photographs from Healthy Community Living (

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