Tips for good resume writing

Tips for a good resume

John Hersey says, "journalism allows its readers to witness a story, and good fiction makes the reader live the story." Similarly, a good resume should make the recruiter see the value in the hire and, visualise the potential in the candidate. A resume is the essential document that starts the recruitment process. In part one of this multi- part series, let us see how you can gain advantage with a good resume or slip into career stagnation with seemingly small mistakes.

Objective of a resume

The first step is to identify if you are writing a resume proactively to showcase your skills and search for a job, or, you are simply responding to a piece of information about an open job position. This simple yet essential step outlines the purpose of your resume. The proactive resume needs to bring out important information about your skills both as keywords and as action words. The reactive resume should match to the open job position to the best extent possible.

Catching attention and sustaining interest

Driven by enthusiasm, job hunters end up writing long and often boring-to-read resumes. Remember, you are working on a resume, and that is your resume. You are familiar with all aspects of your resume. A recruiter is required to review hundreds of resumes in a given day. A long winding story about one perceived difficult challenge is not going to help.

A resume delivers in two parts:

(1) It gets you a meeting (the interview) with a recruiter or the hiring manager (your future boss)

(2) Having achieved step 1, it forms the basis for a decision on your selection

When you focus too much on the interview and the career beyond, you tend to understate your role. This is in fear that you will be asked to deliver all that you portrayed in your resume. When you focus too much on getting to the interview, you tend to overstate your achievements and face challenges in not being able to deliver. A resume should sustain both steps, get the interview and form the basis for your career.

Resume templates from the internet

It is a good thing to choose a resume from the internet to create your resume. When selecting a template remember that the resume should:
  • Not be distractingly louder than your capability and skills
  • Be relevant to the industry – job position (include a photo or not)
  • Not force sections into the resume (social networking as a section for example)

Long winding and boring versus quantified and high impact

Job hunters, especially at the early part of their careers, tend to write long lists of seemingly meaningless things about their professional personality: team worker, problem solver, hard working, creative, disciplined, never say die attitude, excellent communicator, result oriented are commonly found phrases in resumes. Most recruiters have read these phrases too many times and instantly feel boredom. Instead, describe your qualities and strengths in a manner that the resume is true to your personality. These phrases should be in your resume because they describe you, not because your friend has them, not because you found those phrases in a resume template.

Boring versus high impact

Avoid this:
  • Senior level data administration professional
  • Expert in database management
  • Implemented creative solutions to produce fast results
  • At home with analytics, data structures
  • Comfortable with all aspects of enterprise grade database management
Go for this:
  • Skill: Database management
  • Expert in: Normalisation, Indexing, Warehousing, Analytics, Stored procedures,
  • Data arrays
  • Handled large database tables with up to 5 million records
  • Retrieved data in 30 milli seconds using performance optimisation
  • Optimised database that did not report any down time in two years
Attention grabbing methods
  • How do you gather attention then? Here are some important steps:
  • Know the target job position you are applying for
  • It is recommended to have different versions of resumes for different target job positions
  • Resume versions should not have contradicting information or misstate facts
  • Choose specific aspects that are important to the job position
  • Dig deep on those aspects of your career that match those in the job position
  • Quantify (express in numbers) those aspects
  • Bring depth and back your strengths
While you get your ideas around the above guidelines, we will come back with more pointers on:
  • Is your resume web ready?
  • Why is formatting so important?
  • What are resume lies and, how they can kill a career?
  • How to use keywords and action words in good combinations?
  • Should a resume always be in two pages?

Watch this space for more…

The author is Madhu Murty Ronanki, president, TalentSprint

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