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FAQ: How to write an effective resume
In this section, you will find the collection of some common questions you have about writing a good resume. Please feel free to write to us about your queries and if the question is relevant and has not been answered earlier, we will try to incorporate it here. Keep asking!
How many of us
would read on matters strange or unfamiliar to us? Imagine the plight of the
recruiter who is sifting through hundreds of resume looking for those couple
of people who might make an impression and might further go on to get
selected. Is it not unfair on our part to send across to him/her a resume
with matters that make little/no sense.
There could be several reasons for a break in your career - it could be a matter a choice, a force of circumstance or an unavoidable break. The best way to address it is by mentioning it in the resume. An unexplained gap in the resume simply shifts the focus to this section during the interview, leading to loss of valuable time trying to explain it.
What can be included? The truth. If you have been associated with activities directly or indirectly related to your career, mention it. Certification courses, training, conferences or workshops could be included. Personal reasons like world travel or community service or volunteering stints can also be mentioned.
Please be wise about the details of the break you are including. Keep it concise and to the point. Unless it is relevant to your next job (in which case this question is redundant), the only reason we are mentioning it in the resume is to avoid further questions. So please be precise and to the point.
1. How often
should I update my resume?
Focus on content
and design of the resume - other things like target, length and structure
would automatically follow.
What do you charge for an international resume? Can I use the resume while applying for jobs in the US? Does your resume suit the Middle East market? Will the resume be in line with current trends in Australia? These are some of the questions asked by my clients applying to positions outside the country.
My answer: The resume needs to serve only one purpose - the purpose of winning your recruiters' attention at the company you are applying. Hence, all that the resume should have is data relevant to the job you are applying to. As long you meet this criteria, everything else is trivial.
Almost till a decade ago, many Indian job applicants used the Bio-data format (a data sheet rather mentioning the applicants' name, fathers' name, name of the organizations, designations held, date of birth etc.). Resumes were rarely written, most of the applications were "Bio-data"s. Though Resume LABB has been instrumental in influencing the transformation in India, our answers to our clients question "is this the current trend" was not a Yes, but a sermon on the resume!
A few companies in North America and Europe, and some academic institutions might insist on a 1-page resume, while some in the Middle East might want your picture to be included in the resume. By creating a resume focused on the target job at the target company, you need not worry about the international aspect of the resume - it will be international enough.
How many times
has this been the opening question of your interview?
Freedom - though most of us fight for it at some/every stage of our lives, the empowerment and responsibilities that comes with freedom could be quite scary. What do I choose? What are my priorities? What could be the implications? Will it work in my favour? This is a similar situation. We have the power to choose and speak about anything on the planet.
First things first: an interview is a discussion not an interrogation. I
have not understood why most people consider hiring and/or admission process
as a test for fitness by the company/school and not otherwise. It is as much an
investment by you as for the company. It is where the company tries to
find more about you and your fit with the company, and that applies to you
as well - ask the right questions about your role, the impact/significance
of your role on your division/vertical and overall organization, reporting
structure and your KRA. It is bilateral. Its not the place where you enquire
about the nature of the business of the company or the senior leadership
team. (Hope you have already done your research of the role and the
organization before you this discussion).
A resume longer than 2 pages is a definite no-no - simply because your prospective employer/hirer does not have the time for it. I would recommend a 1-pager if you can include all relevant details without losing important information on the value addition you bring to the target role and your accomplishments/contributions in your current/earlier roles. If the above information can get crammed in a 1-pager, go for 2-pages - use suitable headers for easier navigation.
The most obvious ways of demonstrating computer science ability in a resume are by including your computer science related experiences, academic background and certifications. Include your IT skills - your areas of exposure/expertise (programming, testing - along with programming languages, operating systems, databases, other applications/tools). Support it with your areas of application (projects). If you do not have work experience in the field, state how you have used your computer science abilities otherwise (school/college projects, computer involved process improvements at work) and how you keep yourself updated about the developments in the field.
Weakness in a resume is a no-no! How many advertisements have you come across that talks about the products' "weakness"?
But when you are asked to include weakness in a resume, then show them as to how your awareness of your weaknesses/limitations is your strength and how you have been working on turning them around as your strengths or how you are working on correcting/improving/alleviating them. Do ensure that these weaknesses don't contradict the strengths you have mentioned/highlighted in the resume.
Most leading management institutions would recommend a format for the resume. If not, keep it to a single page - follow a heading + bullet point format for clean reading. Include details of your fit to the institution, your academics, your work experience (with greater focus on accomplishments), extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, social/community involvement, hobbies and interests, and any other significant experiences like positions of leadership or additional responsibilities.
First of all, congrats at starting something on your own! Good effort.
How many of your peers would have dared to make a similar effort? Coming to the resume, the most important purpose of the resume is to tell the prospective employer how different/special/unique/better are you in comparison to your peers, in respect to the job you are applying to. That you did found a venture itself gives you enough credit.
Once you have identified the description and requirements of the target job, include relevant details pertinent to your target role. Mention more details of the startup if this is in the same line as your target job; else lose the details and go into telling them as to how you came up with the idea (giving them a glimpse of your ideation/conceptualization abilities), how you set your goal (evidence of your goal setting skills), how you drew the roadmap or the strategy to achieve the goal (substantiating your strategizing aptitude), how you went about executing it (planning/execution skills), how you handled suppliers and customers (relationship management talent) and if there was a team involved, how you led/managed the team (people management skills). Don’t forget to include the key lessons you learnt from the failure - a failure is only as important as your learning! All said, please don’t allot more than 5-7 lines for the startup in your resume (if you are a fresh out of college) and not more than 3-4 lines (if already are working).
I have been a software engineer for ten years. Then I moved to technical writing. Now, when I update my resume, much of the software engineering experience is not useful to my prospective employers. So what should my resume look like?
The most important aspect of a resume is its relevance to the role you are targeting. What a prospective employer is looking at is your fit with the role at hand. It is not their duty to search your resume for information pertinent to the role. On the contrary it is your responsibility to pitch yourself – present reasons supported by evidence.
The focus should be on your target role, so as you are looking at roles in technical writing, you resume should be centered on it. You have put in 10 years of your professional life into IT and that’s valuable – I agree. But detailing that experience does not make sense here, but you could include your contributions and other skills (those you have acquired/honed/demonstrated initiatives) that have made you the professional you are today. For instance, if you have been good at documentation or writing product manuals in your Software Engineering days, and if that skill has helped you in your Technical Writing, then include them.
To sum it up, your resume should be that of a Technical Writers’ who began his/her career as a Software Engineer. Don’t elaborate on your software projects just because you have spent ten years on them, even if technical writing has been only your recent activity, focus on it as that’s what your future is.
Recruiters are interested in material relevant to the role they are trying to fill and their time is precious, as ours. What do you think is the skill set looked for in an application for Event Management, HR or Training? Are they similar? Are they different? Do you think that you will be able to do justice to your pitch when you present your experience across all these areas while the recruiter is looking for skills/experience pertaining to one?
Real estate in a resume is pretty expensive too – you cant afford to include your entire life’s summary in the two pages. You will have to pick and choose those areas relevant to the target role to make your resume more focused and impactful.
You might be able to include Training as a subset of HR, and will also make more sense if training is part of the HR role’s job description too. Event Management – as I have said earlier if there are skills that can be useful to your HR/Training role include them, else focus on the rest.
Create separate resumes for each of the roles – identify the skills and experience relevant to each of the role and focus on them while bringing in the other experiences as a subset/support. You could include accomplishments/contributions/initiatives from other roles as long as the content does not digress.
Talk about the break honestly.
A break is never viewed positively by an employer. Hence, unless you are willing to take the effort to portray it positively, your employer is not going to do it for you.
You could talk about how you have evolved in the last 15 months - include everything that you have gained or learned, and has helped you become a better professional. If you have been able to update yourself in any relevant areas during the break (through short term courses, certifications or e-learning), it will also be a means to convey how you have remained in touch with the industry despite the sabbatical.
I once created a resume for a professional who took a two-year sabbatical to take a world tour. He told me that he had learnt most of his life lessons in the tour and the experiences had made him a much better professional. On further contemplation, we were able to identify specific areas that could bring value to the role he was applying to. All that matters is how you view it, how you present it and how you want the recruiter to see it. You can almost always convince the recruiter to see your point!
Tip #10: Customization of the resume to portray you as the best choice for the role is as important as the selection of role itself. more resume writing tips
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