The Art of Resume writing – a step-by-step approach

Resume writingWriting your resume can be a daunting task, first, because one is unsure of where to start and the resume needs to be perfect in order to place you in the job you want to be in. A candidate with work experience has content by way of work experience, but a fresher will possibly fret all the more due to lack of adequate content. Recruiters do look at fresher resumes with a different eye, albeit a trained one. They look for potential to perform at the job in lieu of past performance, which is the usual indicator of future performance in experienced candidates.

The standard length of an inexperienced candidate’s resume is not more than a page while it is ideally two pages for the experienced. So, how is a resume structured to look professional and meaningful? Personal details, education, any other professional certification, work experience, projects completed, hobbies and interests comprise the main fields.

Resume writing involves pre-work; prior to creating the template and filling it with content, it is important to note down your professional past in words, phrases and bullets. By doing this, you are preparing the ground work for evolving the resume and also ensuring you do not forget some critical aspects. A design plan, the blueprint can help in assimilating your thoughts and sifting important information from the `not worth mentioning’ details.

Objective: The opening line of the resume is the career objective, of course. For an experienced candidate, the work history defines what the individual’s career goal has been and along those lines indicates interest and aspiration with regard to the potential role. With no work experience to present, a fresher needs to be clear and specific about the role being applied for. The crux of the objective conveys who the candidate is, the level of understanding of the position and the amount of interest in the role.

Education: Listing education comprises university, college, degree, electives, scores and any academic achievements. In case you have undertaken any professional courses that relate to the job you are applying for, mentioning them in the resume is an added advantage. Employers seek candidates who are equipped with additional knowledge and skills.

Work experience: Interviewers dwell on this aspect of your resume during the interview. They look at your involvement and achievement in the project or assignment. Put down the context, the action you took and the result - what was the achievement and how it benefitted the organization- in a brief summary with bullet points. Crisp data, metrics and numbers have more impact than wordy textual description.

Skills and competencies: Many a resume is a put off due to the superlative manner in which skills and competencies are depicted. `Excellent communication skills’, `advanced leadership capability’ and so on need data and instances to support these claims. Be mindful of what you are presenting in the resume and how you are doing it. With the world of work going global foreign language skills can give you an additional score.

Hobbies and interests: Just mentioning hobbies like reading, writing, music, or outdoor games does not convey anything about you. The recruiter, on the other hand, will perceive a disinterest which can be interpreted as the way you approach life and work. Unique hobbies like mountain climbing, photography, marathon running create an interest in the recruiter to engage in a conversation as the next progressive step towards hiring.

Personal details: Name, location, and contact details will suffice to put in a resume. Gender, marital status or date of birth bears no relevance to the job you are seeking. Your email address should look professional and not frivolous. The college days of using `humorous’ email addresses like samurai@, bornhappy@ or even lovelife22@ are clearly over. Your email address should have your name for recruiters to relate the resume to the email. Employers now check social media profiles to see if they can look at another dimension of the candidate. Though the social media is an entirely personal choice, it does well to maintain a profile that does not indicate any distasteful or anti-social element.

Resume writingWhile these are the standard features a recruiter expects to see in a resume, you can add additional information that has been significant to your career or a unique skill or passion that you bring to the table. For instance, commercial awareness is a good to have competency in a project management role to tightly manage the project. Ensure you have data or credentials to support this statement.

A cover letter is an optional requirement in a resume. It gives the summary of your work and education and communicates your keenness in getting the job. It has to be worded well; else it will work against the purpose. Consider using a cover letter when applying for a non-conventional role or when changing your line of work, to express your interest and reason for the same.

Having seen what the resume should contain let us focus on the layout and the softer, but critical aspects of language. Many articles have been written about how a job seeker's resume is reviewed. The first level check barely takes a few seconds and if your resume passes muster, you will be called for the interview before which the interviewers look at your resume for a few minutes. Whether man or machine goes through your resume at the first level, key words that relate to the job you are applying for must feature in relevant places in your resume. Stress on aspects that will demonstrate your fitment to the role. Every sentence or statement in your resume should carry a purpose.

If you are mailing your resume, the subject line should have the job you are applying for. Many organizations stipulate the email format to help candidates mail their resumes. Keep the mail content brief but courteous mentioning your interest in the job and one or two aspects about you – like certification or similar work experience that qualifies you as an appropriate fit for the role.

You may have incredible qualifications, a list of projects to your credit and skills that the job requires. However, if your resume does not look neat and attractive, recruiters will not go beyond a single glance.

To know more about layout, presentation and the rest, read out article on 5 steps to drafting Resumes.