Version Control Saves Jobs
Remember when you wrote the first draft of your resume and saved the filename as resume08.doc? And then when you edited it for a different job application, switching up a bunch of stuff, and hit save? And then when you needed the old version back, but you’d saved your new changes over it?
The good news is that losing an older version of your resume doesn’t really affect you that much. But what would happen if you lost an old version of a document for work? A version that your boss asked you to dig up or revert to? Dealing with the stress of getting yelled at is one thing, but the hours that it takes to recompile an old document is reason enough to get things in order. Enter version control.
"Version control" is a very simple concept, but it can set you apart from your peers, particularly early in your career. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy to do. In fact, it’s so easy that I’m going to tell you in one sentence: On the initial save of any document, use a file name that ends with “_v01” and whenever you update it, instead of hitting “save,” hit “save as” and increase the number by 1 (e.g., _v02). That’s all you gotta do. This way you'll have the new version of the document, but you can also revert to any previous version. It's such a simple tip, but it can save a ton of time (or even your job).
Word of warning: there are different levels of version control with documents. There’s something as simple as what I've described, but law firms have some institutional methods, and the technically-inclined (read: dork) might be interested in Subversion (read the free book on Subversion). I don’t care which method you pick, just please use one.
The only trap with version control is the crazy, OCD boss who flips out if you increment a version number on a document (e.g., from _v10 to _v11) without there being any changes between the versions. He or she will probably complain to you about “version integrity.” Personally, I think that’s insane. But that being said, if you decide to play the "versioning" game (which I advise you do), make sure you know whose rules you’re playing by.