Published on Aug 01, 2023
Summer is coming to an end, and that means it’s time to update your resume with your latest experiences and accomplishments. One of the simplest ways to track your experiences and simplify the process of staying up to date is to keep a running resume.
A running resume is a comprehensive document that includes every experience you’ve had, including employment, extracurricular activities, volunteering, research and more. It includes basic information about each position (job title, location, start and end dates), and bullet points used on past resumes. It could also include other sections, such as software you’re familiar with or projects you’ve completed.
It does not have to be formatted like a resume, and it can be as long or as short as it needs to be.
Having such a document makes it much easier to tailor your future resumes to specific jobs. Depending on where you’re applying, you might want to emphasize different aspects of your work experience and history. With a running resume, you already have information and bullet points for each position written out and easily accessible, so you can go back and select which ones to use depending on what you’re applying for.
Creating a running resume
Start by making a list of every experience you could possibly put on a resume. Then reference past resumes and online profiles to track the way you’ve described these jobs in the past. Feel free to edit or modify the descriptions if desired.
If there’s a work experience you haven’t yet put on a resume, then a running resume is a good place to draft it without worrying about formatting. When creating bullet points, remember to use strong action verbs and to focus on specific statistics and results. Keep it as concise as possible: instead of “Used coding skills to…”, say, “Coded…”
Maintaining a running resume
With a running resume, you generally will only need to add job experiences rather than delete them. However, don’t forget to keep the dates updated. If you no longer work at a position anymore, make sure it no longer says you’ve worked there until the ‘present.’
You can organize your running resume however you desire, but unlike a resume, it doesn’t need to be strictly formatted. As long as it includes each relevant position, how you organize it is up to you.
How to tailor your individual resumes
Every position is different, and that means you might decide to highlight different skills for each one. When applying for a customer service job, you might want to highlight your volunteer work and extracurriculars to emphasize that you care about helping the community. For an engineering job, on the other hand, you’ll lend a lot more space to your work experience, coursework and hard skills.
There are several ways to shift emphasis in your resume.
The first is through section headers. In the engineering example, you could set aside a specific section of your resume that focuses on ‘Engineering Experience.’ Employers only take an average of 8 seconds to look at a resume, so drawing their attention to section headers is a useful way to make sure they notice your most significant accomplishments.
Second, the wording of your bullet points. For example, if a job that involves mostly surveying, you might want to highlight the surveying component of a past internship. That same job might be worded differently for a position that focuses more on infrastructure.
Finally, the actual positions you choose to include. By the time you’ve earned industry-related experience, your entry-level experiences have less value to employers. In many cases, it may benefit you more to have a ‘technological skills’ section than to include your position as a waiter in high school. It can be ambiguous but think critically and put yourself in the shoes of a potential employer. A professor or major-specific career office can also help you sort through the dilemma of what to include.
After you’ve decided what to include and tracked your experiences in your running resume, the rest is simple. Remember to keep your resume to one full page or two full pages and stick to only your most relevant experiences.
With a regularly maintained running resume under your belt, you’ll be pulling together tailored resumes for every job in no time.