Writing a powerful resume can be a painstaking process, but can nonetheless land you the best job. Here is how you can make your resume shine amongst the rest
Resume – the first and crucial step in job search
A resume is a powerful marketing weapon to showcase the talent of the job seeker to prospective employers, preparation of which can be a painstaking and intensive process. The varied subjective opinions on the Internet coupled with the information overload can actually end up confusing the job seeker. The onus of turning out a well-crafted resume lies on the job seeker alone.
Key factors to be considered while crafting a resume
A crisp and clear career objective of the job seeker is the first step in the process. It is worthwhile to write down the objective on a piece of paper, writing it, rewriting it and refining it as many times as one wants it to make it appear professional. Vaguely defined objectives will entail extra effort for the reviewer to pore through the contents and arrive at a conclusion. The emergence of new disciplines and new job descriptions demand that the resume be customised as per job description.
The objective should be followed by a summary of your skills (in bullet points), educational summary and work experience. The Key Result Areas (KRAs) need to be mentioned along with quantifiable accomplishments. The description - “Successfully negotiated purchase transactions to generate a savings of Rs.10 lakhs per annum” - reads better than “successfully negotiated purchase transactions to generate value to the organisation”, isn’t it?
The length of the resume plays a crucial role in its readability. A lot of so-called experts recommend a one page resume saying that a resume is viewed over 15 seconds and hence a crisp resume will work in your favor. However, this is mostly an exaggeration. The number of years that a job seeker has put in has a bearing on the length. The length can be restricted to a maximum of 3 to 4 pages. Make your resume less wordy leaving adequate white spaces.
A resume derives its merit from the job seeker’s competence, skills and experience. Avoid the use of fancy colors, tables and fonts. The use of fancy email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com is also best avoided. The use of a simple font like Times New Roman (above 10) or Arial is highly recommended as other types of unique fonts may or may not be available at the reviewer’s disposal. Personal details like marital status and family background are also avoided unless there is a specific request.
Dedication, diligence, patience and perseverance are qualities of the job seeker that enable him to write a resume that can create an impact. Undeniably, it requires the use of a lot of elbow grease to come up with a winning resume.
In the initial stages, a draft resume can be hand written as it will help in organising one’s thoughts more coherently. This can be followed by typing on the computer and then refining the contents over the next few days to make it more fit for purpose.
Some experts opine that showcasing your extracurricular activities adds value to your profile as this reflects your persona. Others express the view that this can turn counterproductive if the prospective employer does not like a particular activity or if he feels that you have enough time on hand to indulge in such creative pursuits. A sagely advice – Do not go overboard with the description of these activities.
Adopting the “3C” approach
This is one among the many approaches that guide you in the process of crafting a winning resume.
1. C – Consistency: The contents of a resume must connect to each other. Clear linkage between the objective and the work experience needs to be demonstrated. The skill sets mentioned must correlate with the accomplishments. A rambling resume that is also unstructured can confuse the reader.
2. C - Concise, clear & clean : A resume has to be free of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and typographical errors; a less wordy resume that presents the desired information in an easy-to-read (bulleted points) style is always preferred.
3. C – Convincing. If a job seeker is not convinced about the resume, how does he expect the prospective employers to be convinced about it? Market yourself in the resume to subtly highlight the skills that you bring to the table if you are hired.
A resume creates an image about the job seeker in the minds of the reviewer even when they haven’t met each other. Use all the creativity/ingenuity/out-of-the-box thinking to make your resume appealing. Some experts advise following the CAR model that talks about Challenge, Action and Results. The STAR model (S – Situation, T- Target, A- Action, R-Results) used by a few organisations for internal job postings and performance appraisals can also be helpful in effectively articulating the accomplishments of the job seeker.
Do you need a resume writing service?
A good, well-written resume indicates the seriousness of the job seeker. The mushrooming of HR consultancy firms across the length and breadth of the country has somewhat diluted the role of the placement sector. Poorly paid unskilled executives in these firms sending mass emails to candidates by scanning the job portals can be a great nuisance.
Carl Bradford, an executive recruiter and trainer does not see the need for resume writing services at all. But if you have to, then a few sittings with professional resume writers can enable one to discern the difference between a great resume and a good resume. Disturbingly, there is a trend to window dress the resume without a clear understanding of the profile of the job seeker. Sadly, commoditisation of the resume writing services has diluted the standards. Eventually the job seeker is responsible for creating a winning resume – this can’t be delegated.
The Final Word
The job seeker needs to fine tune the resume as the situation demands. Even passive job seekers are well advised to keep their resumes updated at all times. Use of key words will make your resume searchable and increase the chances of getting that coveted call for the interview.
Self assessment of the resume at periodic intervals, coupled with peer reviews by trusted colleagues in the network can help provide a useful perspective in refining the contents. Be open to constructive feedback. Stay away from those cynics who shred your resume to smithereens and use the opportunity to display their supremacy.
Of the two types of resumes – chronological and functional, the functional resumes are intended at a niche audience for certain specific categories of jobs. The chronological resumes organize your work history by starting with the most recent job and then working backward. The functional resumes may need more tweaking than the chronological ones.
No matter what, when the opportunity is right and time works in your favour, you will land your dream job despite all the setbacks suffered. A well-crafted resume and the performance in a job interview will ensure how soon you reach there. But what is due to you, will reach you – provided you have that intense desire for the same. So, best of luck to all job aspirants in 2012!
Building a powerful and effective resume is the first and most crucial step for an active job-seeker. Techniques to make the resume more appealing and less spotty can be explored. Resume writing services can be engaged only if there is substantial merit in doing so.
Venkatesh Ganapathy is the General Manager (Project Management Office) of FirePro Limited