How do you build your resume to grab attention?

Grab attentionIn the hiring world, it is believed that a resume is read for just 30 seconds. The first contact with, and the first impression on a prospective employer is through the resume. Your resume must grab attention and spark interest, prompting the recipient to read it in detail. A resume should be easily readable, worded in simple but effective language, factual and accurate, in a logical sequence, and must make an impact on the recruiter.

Matthew T. Cross, who authored ‘The Resume Design Book’, says: “No one creates a perfect resume on their first try. Writing a perfect resume is a messy process, but the easiest way to start is by simply getting in the right mindset and putting pen to paper.”

Resume writing can be an agonizing exercise though writing about one’s own self should be the easiest of things. Reluctance to create it notwithstanding, the resume historically has been the first step towards seeking a job or making a career shift. So how does one write a winning resume? Here are four broad pointers to keep in mind when drafting your resume.

Believe in basics

The most important message, in other words, your career definition and aspiration, comes on top. First impressions are critical, and your opening line can influence the recruiter’s opinion, if not his judgment of the candidate. As a sales tool, the resume should read well enough to provoke interest, hook the reader and create opportunity for the next positive step in hiring.

Lisa McGrimmon in her Resume Writing Guide aptly advises: Take a few simple steps to distinguish yourself; you have to do things slightly better than other candidates.

How does a resume that reads well look? First, it should be relevant to the job applied for. A one size fits all resume will sink into oblivion amongst the 180 odd resumes that have been received by the recruiter.  While `doctoring’ a resume is unethical, tailoring it to depict direct relevance to the job applied for will help the recruiter identify a unique angle about why this candidate will be a good fit for the position. A significant attribute or skill mentioned is the hook that attracts the reader to start a conversation.

A job resume primarily comprises personal details, educational qualifications and work summary.

How personal can personal details be?

Name, address and contact details are a must to include, but the traditional way of listing out fields like nationality, gender, date of birth and family details are no more in vogue. Such information has no bearing to the job applied for and does not speak of traits or skills necessary for the job! Unless there is a real reason such as roles inviting applications from specified nationals, you can safely skip the extra details about yourself. Employers evince interest in a candidate’s hobbies though, as they reveal something about the individual’s personality. Again, hobbies need to be specific and your achievement in this area should be substantial too. Playing the guitar as a hobby is not worth mentioning unless you are a performer or a teacher of some repute. If you mention reading as a hobby, something employers would love to know more about, then be prepared to talk about your recent reading, your opinion of the book, the author’s background and so on.

Employers like to see depth in anything the job seeker has done as it shows potential for increase in knowledge and enhancement in expertise. Therefore, keep to the key elements and cut out extra-curricular activities, interests and hobbies etc unless you have something worthwhile and pertinent to talk about. If you do have something very individualistic and significant that is not dated, support your statements with data and instances. For example, in the context of freshers as job seekers, winning a national award for a college science project may need due mention, but winning the first prize in recitation while in primary school need not work its way into your resume.

Content is king

Employers like it when the resume highlights the value-added in each role and does not state just the job description or content. While describing your work, ensure you provide qualitative and quantitative data. Focus on the role you played, the action you undertook and the achieved result. Ensure you highlight any awards or recognition. Describe your role and responsibility in a succinct and crisp manner in a language not prone to exaggeration. `Worked on the world’s best cutting edge technology and made a commendable contribution to the organization’s business’ amounts to sheer empty rhetoric. Elaborate on your role, mention the technology and specify the contribution in terms of revenue or any other measure that made a positive impact on the organization’s business or market value.

Accomplishment being the crux of a resume, use verbs that can prove your work. On the same note, avoid adverbs like highly, extremely, reasonably and so on. Resume writing needs to be accurate and tight, and to the point, with short simple sentences that imply confidence and not arrogance. Brief but complete narratives followed by bullet points make a crisp depiction of an experience summary.

Correct the cosmetics

Grab attentionA resume needs several reviews post creation. Typos, grammatical errors, layout blunders, short forms, fancy fonts and random sizes can be a major put-off for the recruiter who has to sift through hundreds of resumes. Redundant words, jargons and overused phrases make a resume look heavy and congested. Recruiters have an eye for detail and one small error can mar judgment. For instance, a candidate’s mail with one resume attached stating – “Attached profiles”- in the subject line is likely to make a very poor impression. Even minor errors on the candidate’s part leave recruiters feeling the candidate is casual about his/her job application, and not focused enough.

Presenting a resume for a position is a lifetime opportunity. A well written resume with quality content will engage with the recruiter(s), prompting them to take it to the next step in the recruitment process. On the other hand, a long winding prosaic resume will make the hiring manager ask an equally long wound question at the interview (if the dull resume gets to the next stage by sheer luck): Tell me something about yourself.

Here are some resume samples that our in-house experts believe are well drafted, logically designed and serve as a good reference point for you to build your own resume on.

The time you spend on thinking, reflecting, creating and correcting your resume is well worth every moment. It can change the direction of your career and life. Build a factual but interesting and eye-grabbing resume, and you have won the first battle in job hunting.