Job search hack: create a summary resume

Close up of a person's hands resting on a tabletop holding a single-page resume.

Have you ever seen a job you wanted to apply for, but felt paralyzed because customizing your resume to fit the position would take too much time? Here’s a hack to make resume updates easier: create a summary resume.

Summary resume: what it is

A summary resume is a master document that lists all of the potential items you might ever want to include on any version of your resume. This version of your resume is not one you’ll ever actually submit – it’s a back-end version just for you.

Include all your past jobs, all of your volunteer experiences, any leadership position you’ve ever held, any award you’ve ever won. It doesn’t matter how long this document is; this is your personal repository of everything career-related, an archive you can pull from whenever a new job opportunity comes along.

Why create a summary resume?

Rachel Palmer, the career advisor for OSU’s College of Science, likes to describe creating a summary resume as stocking the shelves of your personal grocery store.

“You’re getting everything ready. It’s all written. You’re good to go. You don’t have to remember those details later,” she says. “And then when you find a job, it’s going to tell you in the position description what they’re looking for. That becomes your grocery list. Then you just go back to your store, pick the things that demonstrate those qualities, and you curate it into your submittable resume.”

Rachel Palmer, Assistant Director of Career Development

It’s a trick that takes a little time on the front end, but can save you hours in the future. Once you have your summary, save it and add to it whenever you complete a major project, get a promotion, or start a new role.

What to add to your summary resume

Not sure what to put on your summary resume? Here are some tips to get you started:

Learn from experts about how to create a master resume document to pull from.


Career skills employers really want

(and how to show you have them)

Have you ever heard the term “soft skills” and wondered what that meant? How about “career-readiness competencies”? No matter what you call them, it’s a fact: employers want to hire people who not only have the education to do a specific job, but also have the personal skills like teamwork and communication that make them good all-around employees.

You might also hear them called “transferable skills” – that’s because you can gain these skills in many areas of your life, and then transfer them to any career path. The good news? Your experiences in college are helping you acquire those skills along the way. Here are eight career-readiness skills that employers are looking for, and tips from us on how to show you have them!

(Note: these career readiness competencies were developed by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, an organization for university career services providers and recruiting professionals)

Career & Self-Development

What it is: Proactively developing oneself through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships.

  • Example behaviors: You show an awareness of your own strengths and areas for growth; you seek out opportunities to learn, develop plans for your future career, and maintain relationships with people who can help you professionally.
  • Ways to show this skill: Attending career development workshops and events; completing professional education or training related to your field of study.
  • On your résumé: List industry-affiliated clubs or student chapters of professional organizations; add LinkedIn Learning courses you’ve taken. (Tip: LinkedIn Learning courses are free for OSU students!)


What is is: Clearly and effectively exchanging information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with others both inside and outside of an organization.

  • Example behaviors: You can communicate clearly and in multiple ways: verbally; via non-verbal cues and body language; and through writing and editing. You can also employ active listening skills, and you can communicate with respect to a diversity of learning styles, varied individual communication abilities, and cultural differences.
  • Ways to show this skill: Completed papers, presentations, and group projects; customer service roles; and by asking clarifying questions.
  • On your résumé: Customer service roles are great examples of communication skills. If you’ve worked in food service, hospitality, retail, or any public-facing role, you’ve built communication skills. You can also add educational experiences, such as examples of major projects you’ve completed that involved gathering input from others, or that required a public presentation.

Critical Thinking

What it is: Identifying and responding to needs, based on an understanding of situational content and logical analysis of relevant information.

  • Example behaviors: You can make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgement; you gather information from a diverse set of sources to fully understand a problem; you can anticipate needs and prioritize action steps.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share examples of anything that requires a plan with specific steps to solve a problem, such as research papers, projects, and service learning.
  • On your résumé: Any job that requires you to multi-task well in a fast-paced environment shows your critical thinking skills; any classroom project, volunteer project or workplace task in which you were given a problem and asked to come up with a plan to solve it.

Equity & Inclusion

What it is: Demonstrating the awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different cultures. Engaging in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.

  • Example behaviors: You can solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions; you advocate for and actively contribute to inclusive and equitable practices that influence individual and systemic change.
  • Ways to show this skill: Seek out global and cultural exchange experiences that will broaden your perspective; engage in advocacy for inclusion and empowerment for historically marginalized communities.
  • On your résumé: List any study abroad or volunteer experiences that gave you the opportunity to experience diverse cultural perspectives; include any participation in anti-racist or equity-minded organizations or clubs.


What it is: Recognizing and capitalizing on personal and team strengths to achieve common goals.

  • Example behaviors: You can inspire, persuade and motivate yourself and others under a shared vision; you use innovative methods to beyond traditional methods, and you serve as a role model by approaching tasks with confidence and a positive attitude.
  • Ways to show this skill: Sign up for lead roles in organizations or class projects; take initiative on additional responsibilities in jobs, volunteer work or internships.
  • On your résumé: List any role in which you served as a team lead (even if it was a sports team, club or class project – it’s the same skill set whether you were paid for it or not). Be ready to share some examples of ways you planned, initiated or managed projects.


What it is: Knowing work environments differ greatly, understanding and demonstrating effective work habits, and acting in the interest of the larger community and workplace.

  • Example behaviors: You act equitably, with integrity and accountability to yourself, others, and the organization; you demonstrate dependability and consistently meet or exceed expectations. You work with a high level of detail and complete work with few (if any) errors.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share your successes in completing projects on time; talk about how you prioritize when juggling competing priorities and tasks.
  • On your résumé: List any jobs that required you to pay attention to small details and prioritize tasks; include awards like “employee of the month” regardless of whether they were received in an office setting, a volunteer job, or a fast food restaurant – it’s all evidence of your professionalism.


What it is: Building and maintaining collaborative relationships to work toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.

  • Example behaviors: You listen carefully to others, taking time to understand and ask questions without interrupting; you can effectively manage conflict, interact with and respect diverse personalities, and meet ambiguity with resilience. You know how to compromise and collaborate.
  • Ways to show this skill: Projects where responsibility is shared, team-oriented jobs, and student organizations.
  • On your résumé: Specifically mention times where your job required you to work with others to accomplish your tasks; list group projects in a classroom setting, team sports or clubs.


What it is: Understanding and leveraging technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.

  • Example behaviors: You can navigate change and can quickly adapt to new  or unfamiliar technologies; you can identify appropriate technology for tasks and use technology to achieve strategic goals.
  • Ways to show this skill: Share examples of how you’ve learned new technologies, or used technology to improve efficiency in school or work projects.
  • On your résumé: include a list of software or technology that you’re proficient in; be prepared to talk about how you learned/used those skills.

More tips for gaining (and showing off) your transferable skills

“Should I list my boring job on my resume?” – this blog post from Handshake does a deep dive on ways to show off transferable skills no matter what kind of work experience you’ve had.

“How to show off your soft skills to employers – with samples” – more tips from Handshake on adding transferable skills to your resume.

How to use power statements on your resume – Tips and examples from OSU’s career advisors on a how to write a power statement – a two-line, action-oriented statement you can add to your resume to show off your skills from previous experiences.


Enhancing your resume with classroom experience

You worked hard this year. Does your resume show it?

Being a college student is tough. And whether you realize it or not, you’re gathering skills that future employers want just by being a student.

Here’s how to update your resume to show off the transferable skills you learned this year.

Add projects. If you successfully completed a group project, you demonstrated teamwork and communication — two of the eight career-readiness competencies that employers are looking for!

Include research and relevant courses. Look at the job descriptions for positions you’re dreaming of and see what skills or qualifications are listed in the job posting. Then, take a look at classes you’ve taken, research projects you’ve completed, or fieldwork you’ve done, and add them if they relate back to those desired skillsets.

Remember, just because your experience wasn’t gained in a paid employment setting doesn’t mean it’s not highly relevant. Example: a job posting for a marketing position lists designing posters with Adobe Creative Suite software as a required skill. While you’ve never had a paid marketing position before, you learned to use Adobe software in a graphic design class and created posters as part of your required coursework. Go ahead and list that course and the skills you learned on your resume!

Tip: When adding classes, leave out course numbers or academic jargon, and list the course titles instead. (Example: Agricultural Business Management, not AEC 442).

Update your involvement. What do you do when you’re not in class? Clubs, athletics, volunteer work and sorority/fraternity involvement can all go on your resume. Definitely list leadership roles and organizations related to your field of study, but don’t be afraid to list clubs that are just for fun, too. Competing with the dodgeball club or volunteering at the animal shelter can show employers that you’re interesting, engaged, and capable of balancing multiple priorities.

Run a test. Once you’ve completed your updates, run your resume through Vmock. This online platform will give you instant, personalized feedback on your resume or CV.

More resume resources

Use our resume brainstorming worksheet

See our repository of sample resumes for inspiration