Your resume should be brief, but probably not t-shirt-sized. Image courtesy of Flickr user Social is Better. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.College students are in an awkward position when it comes to resumes. Because most of us aren’t yet settled in a career path, it’s difficult to come up with one document that will have relevant data for all of our applications for internships, jobs, and grad school. Some programs don’t care about your club involvement on campus, while on-campus positions will be thrilled to know you’re a club president; many internships want a mix of on- and off-campus involvement.

The easy solution for those of us who don’t want to create an XML Resume is creating a master resume in our word processor of choice. It can be as long as you want. Create a document, formatted however you like, with everything you’ve done since graduating high school. Include jobs, internships, club affiliations, and personal projects. Name the document something that will alert you that this isn’t the document you want to send–mine’s named “Obnoxiously Complete Traditional Resume.odt.” This is the resume that you will keep updated as you win awards, take on new positions, and complete research projects.

Then, next time that you need to submit your resume to an internship, research opportunity, or secret spy mission, pull up your master resume and cut out all of the positions, awards, and achievements that are irrelevant to what you’re applying for. You don’t want to commit the rookie mistake of including everything you’ve ever done if it has nothing to do with what you’re applying for. By cutting down irrelevant achievements, you should be able to move your resume down to one or two pages. Simply export this new, targeted resume as a pdf (with a more appropriate name–something like YourLastName Resume.pdf), and you’re good to go. This will allow you to easily customize your resume to fit individual opportunities, rather than blindly sending out an uncustomized resume for a variety of opportunities.

This hack allows you to only maintain and format a single document even if you have multiple areas of focus in your professional and academic lives. By keeping the document saved as a .doc or an .odt, you maintain control over formatting and ease of access–though there are good resume-building websites out there, oftentimes it’s easy to forget to keep your resume up to date if it’s on an external site. Make sure to keep your master resume file backed up either on an external drive or a service like Dropbox.

It’s the time of year to start applying for summer internships and research opportunities, but your internship doesn’t have to be a painful part of the process. For more resume tips, check out this article on making your resume stand out, grade your resume with RezScore, and make sure your digital resume matches your traditional one.