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About Us Process Tips

10 Things to Avoid in a Resume

How to Address a Gap in Employment

Keeping my Resume Updated

How to Write an International Resume

How to Write an Effective Resume

"Tell me about Your Self"

Is a 3-page Better than a 1-page Resume

Demonstrating Computer Science Skills

How to Include Weakness in Resume

Resumes for Management Institutions

Including Failed Startup in Resume

Career Transitions: Software Engineer to Technical Writing

Should I have More than one Resume

Writing about Maternity Leave in resume

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!

10 Things to Avoid in a Resume

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.

1. Objective: The objective is obvious - the position at the company you are applying to. Use a precise 2-line self introduction instead.

2. Longer Resumes: Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds on your resume in the first glance - make the most of this time by keeping it up to/under 2 pages.

3. Paragraphs: Paragraphs could be unappealing and boring to prospective recruiters; use bullet points not exceeding 3 lines.

4. Pictures: Don't include pictures unless asked for (or you are applying to be an actor or a model) - despite being irrelevant, they increase the size of your file.

5. References: Provide references when asked; use the available space judiciously

6. Unsubstantiated Claims: Anybody can make statements - only those properly backed last. Support every accomplishment with the purpose, motivation, strategy and result.

7. Jargons: Be careful about using technical jargons - avoid using industry specific jargons especially while looking for positions across industries.

8. Fancy: Words, design or fonts - keep it simple. Unless you are applying for a creative position, in an attempt to be different, try not to be fancy.

9. Gaps: If you were in a sabbatical or taking a world tour or undergoing a training, meaning a break/gap in your career - don't leave it open. Mentioning what you did (along with the duration) will save time spent on explaining the gap/break.

10. Weakness: NO.

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How to Address a Gap in Employment

Be honest.

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.

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Keeping my resume updated!

1. How often should I update my resume?
No strict time intervals. Update your resume whenever your profile changes - through a promotion, transfer to another department or a new job. Do not procrastinate. Update your resume before you get the call from your consultant or receive an insultingly low raise!

2. What do I retain from my old resume?
It depends totally on your target role - retain only information relevant to your next role. Employers want material related to the position they are trying to fill; so focus on assignments and skills that are relevant to them. Employers also prefer information about your recent employment, so reduce focus on earlier jobs.

3. Why don’t I simply add the present/latest assignments to my current resume?
Firstly, the target of your earlier resume would not be the target of your current resume (unless, unfortunately, the intermediate stint was too short or irrelevant or non-educative). Secondly, keep the resume concise: a resume longer than 2 pages is a definite no-no.

4. How can I make resume updating easier?
Maintaining a journal of accomplishments, contributions made, awards/recognitions/appreciations received and newer responsibilities will simplify your resume updating process.

5. What’s the first step in updating my resume?
Decide on your next target profile! Typically your next role is a continuation of your current one – in terms of function or industry. However, explore your desires, areas of further interest and activities you would enjoy performing daily for a couple of years, and evaluate them before arriving at your dream profile.

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How to write an effective resume?

Focus on content and design of the resume - other things like target, length and structure would automatically follow.

Understand your target profile - research the position and the organization you are applying to. This knowledge will help you to prioritize your content - include all relevant details while excluding extraneous data.

Keep the design simple and structured. A bullet point format is preferred over a paragraph style simply because the latter gives a more verbose impression. Limit the resume to 2-pages - nobody has the time for more!

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Is my Resume International Enough?

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.

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"Tell Me About Yourself"

How many times has this been the opening question of your interview?

Despite the numerous instances we have come across this question, we are left baffled, alarmed and wondering while our mind races through events from personal, professional and social fronts of our life. Sometimes, we end up returning with a question asking the interviewer to be specific, looking for a direction or a suggestion.

Until about a decade ago, to me this was one of the most silliest and laziest questions an interviewer could put forward. I blamed my disappointing performance on his/her ineptness and lack of preparation, and was sometimes even irritated when he/she took this time to skim through my resume for the first time. Then a friend suggested to make a productive assessment of the situation and develop a strategy to confront it. The contemplation changed my perspectives of recruitment interviews for ever. I realized how I could turn around this open ended question in my favour, how the power could shift to my side of the table and how the question was no more annoying.

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).

You can take a moment to collect your thoughts - let the recruiter be informed of this. You can pick a recent accomplishment (professional/personal) that could illustrate the skills that are relevant to the role you are pitching for. You can use your research/preparation to talk about a topic related to the company where you can bring improvements (if you can back it up with figures, good!) - be sure of not coming out arrogant or offending, as you are still only partially aware of the truth/facts; and after all you are looking to be employed here. You can talk about an interest of yours (reading, car racing, cooking, gardening, painting, running or trading) and try to describe you and maybe how it helps you professionally - try to connect it with the target role. It could even be about an incident you witnessed on your way to the interview or the picture you saw in the reception or the person from the company who called you to coordinate the interview. Remember how nonchalant and excited you are to talk about your day to your spouse or your friend - its similar, share your story by not digressing.

Hope you look forward to the question in your next interview, and perform to your satisfaction.

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What should I go for - a lengthy 3 page resume or a short one page resume?

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.

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How can I demonstrate computer science ability in a resume?

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.

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If we have to include weakness in our resume, how do we do?

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.

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What are the resume formats I can use to apply to management institutions?

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.

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How do I write positively about a failed startup at college in my resume?

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).

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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.

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I have handled administration jobs in event management, training and HR. Should I go for a general resume or a specialist resume for each of them?

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.

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I have been on a maternity break for the last 15 months. I would like to restart my career. How do I include the break in the resume?

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!

15+ years                                          10-15 years                                          5-10 years                                          Fresher

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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