In a competitive job market like India, where thousands and lakhs of candidates compete for a single job, an effective and impressive resume plays a key role in your success. In-fact, Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume has become a mandatory document not only when it comes to securing jobs but also to get into professional courses at best engineering college and top B-schools in India.
Despite it being one of the most important documents for students and job seekers, the idea of creating a winning resume often sends shivers down the spines of many. A large chunk of Indian population including students, college pass-outs and even working professionals; still struggles when it comes to creating a good resume that can impress their future employer. But resume writing is not really rocket science! Still don’t believe us? Well, we have listed down some key points that might convince you and also help you create that winning resume for your professional / academic career ahead.
1. Purpose of a Resume
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Resume / Curriculum Vitae serve a variety of purposes when it comes to securing a job. But, the simplest way to explain this is through the metaphor of shopping. When you go to a supermarket like Big Bazar, how do you pick the item that you want to buy? You simply look at the box for information about the product and buy the one among the thousands that suits your needs. Similarly, your resume is a way for employers and HR professionals to match you up with the right requirements. It helps them understand your key skills, abilities and personality traits and see if they meet their needs for a particular role or job. If it matches, you are called in for a face-to-face personal interview, wherein all the things you have mentioned on your resume are verified.
So, simply put, your resume is just a marketing document that will help employers to shortlist you for a particular job profile as per your skills and personality.
2. Curriculum Vitae (CV) v/s Resume
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Another thing that makes people nervous about creating their resume is the confusion between Resume and CV. But, to the surprise of many the difference is quite simple and can be summed up in one word i.e., ‘length’. Resumes are relatively short in length (below 2 pages) and present a summarized portfolio of your academic, professional achievements and skills. On the other hand, Curriculum Vitae (CV) are more details and run into several pages with a detailed account of your professional history and academic qualifications. They may also include the other minor details as well that may add weight to your candidature for jobs or academic seat. In the majority of cases, employers look for Resumes as they are easier to process, whereas academic institutions and such other authorities ask for a CV.
Although the points included in this write-up are tailored for the resume, you can also apply the same to create an awesome CV.
3. Layout & Format
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Remember the shopping analogy we referred earlier; continuing on that, how likely are you to buy a product that is not packaged well. The same principal applies to your resume. If it is packaged well and looks professional it will grab the attention of employers. This makes the format and layout of your professional resume very important. A simple Google search for Resume Layout will present you with millions of search results and options to choose from. However, it is necessary to understand the field in which you are seeking the job and the kind of resume format and style that is accepted there. But as a rule of thumb, you must remember that your resume must be stylish enough to impress the employers at the first sight while avoiding to look out of place and non-professional.
Remember, your resume must be:
- Simple but not unexciting
- Impressive but not flashy
- Professional but not boring
- Must have simple font and only black and white colours
You can experiment with different formats and layouts for the resume, as long as it helps you stand out from the crowd without leaving a negative impression in the mind of the interviewer. You must also remember that resume format and layouts undergo severe transformation every 6 months of so; therefore, it is important for you to keep your resume updated accordingly.
4. Personal Details – keep it minimal
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Candidates are expected to include their personal information as part of their resume. The general trend is to allocate the little real estate as possible in your resume. Your personal information must be presented in simple and easy to understand format in a crisp manner. As per the current trend, you can include your basic personal information like communication / correspondence address, phone number and email id right at the top as it provides easy visibility.
5. Career Goals & Objectives
The next important thing that you must highlight in a resume is career goals. Career objectives help your future employer understand your dreams and aspirations. They must highlight your long term goals while being realistic and practical. The biggest mistake that candidates do while defining their career goals in their resume is to copy it from a generic format or put some famous quote. This is the biggest disserve you can do your chances of being picked for the job. Putting a generic quote / copied career objectives in your resume presents you as a person with no clarity regarding their future. It projects you as someone who is unclear and confused about your ambitions. So, always try to define your own career objectives and write them down in your own words. Doing so will also help you defend your goals in an interview.
PS: Career Objectives are generally included in a CV, but some companies also ask them to be included in candidate’s resume.
6. Professional Experience & Achievements
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This is probably the most important component of your resume and must include a precise summary of all your professional experience and achievements. As far as professional experience is concerned, if you have worked with any organization before the same must be clearly presented in this section. It must include the time period for which you were enrolled and the key responsibilities you handled as part of the job.
On achievement front, it is advisable to be careful; many candidates mention even the most minor accomplishments as achievements. This must be avoided at all costs. You must only include those professional achievements that will enhance your chances of getting selected for the job. Your achievements must be crystal clear and must have a tangible proof that will help you defend your claim. For instance, if you have executed your project, only include in your resume if you have kept all the important ideation papers and presentations which can back you up in your interview.
7. Academic Qualifications
This is another section that will attract a lot of attention from your future employers. You academics are very important to your employer as they not only substantiate the skills your claim to possess but also give a glimpse or your personality over the years. It will clearly demonstrate how your academic performance has been over the years, which is clear indication of how you might perform in future. But, your academic qualifications is not something that you can change now, the only that you can do right now is to present it in a dignified way. Dignified presentation of your academics will tell the interviewer that you have done your best and are proud of your academic achievements irrespective of where they stand. If you try some fancy trick to make it look out of the place, it might suggest otherwise.
Therefore, make sure you present your academic qualifications in very clear and precise manner. Mention the degree, college from where you graduated and the year. The acceptable norm for this is to present your academic history in a tabular format. Apart from your schooling and graduation, you can also include other smaller qualifications like a certificate course, professional training, skill enhancement workshops that you undertook. But again, it must only be included if you think it will increase your chances of getting the job.
8. Interest & Hobbies
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This is an optional section which you can include as part of your resume. Under this section, you can include different interests and hobbies that you enjoy apart from your usual professional responsibilities. But, many candidates mention activities that are not really in their interest area under this section, which creates a problem for many. So, be sure to include only those hobbies that you are truly interested in. For instance, if you mention reading as one of your hobbies, you must be familiar with works of your favourite authors. Another thing that can help in this section is specificity. Be specific about your interest i.e., instead of simply listing reading as your hobby mention the genre that you are interested in e.g.: fiction books; instead of sports, mention football or EPL. This will help the interviewer narrow down the scope and ask relevant questions about it.
9. Language & Tone
Now that we have covered all the important aspects that you must include in your resume, let’s talk about the general language and tone. Resume is a professional document that will create your first impression upon your future employer and as the old adage goes; your first impression is all that matters. So, ensure that the language and tone that is used in your resume is formal and professional. Avoid any casual words or language and be specific about the points you want to highlight instead of beating around the bush. It is also advisable to build your resume on your own as it will help you maintain a consistent tone throughout the resume as well as the interview process.
10. Other Salient Points
While we have already covered all the key points as far as creating an effective resume is concerned, there are certain minor factors that you must mind. We have mentioned them below:
- Be judicious, but do not cramp too much information in limited space
- Keep it short, sweet and precise; avoid any unnecessary things in your resume
- Avoid use of fancy fonts or outrageous styles in your resume
- Short sentences that convey the necessary meaning without being confusing are preferred
- Avoid creating your resume in the first person i.e., “I did..”, “I was…”, “My grades…”. The employer and interviewer both already know that it’s your resume
- Grammatical mistakes and spelling errors are a complete ‘no-no’
- Provide a professional looking email id instead of something like firstname.lastname@example.org; that you created during your school days
- If you are including references in your resume, ensure that their contact details are correct
- If you have seniors or elders in family, get your resume checked by them
So, there you have it! The tips and suggestions provided in the article above will help you create an impressive resume. If you feel, we have missed out on some important points, please feel free to list them in the comments section below.