If you want to draft a resume that reflects your true potential, keep reading.
When you apply for a job, your resume isn’t the only one sliding into the recruiter’s inbox. Hundreds of other hopefuls are sending in their CV’s too, reducing your chances of getting noticed.
The 30 second Test
A busy HR executive will only spend a few moments scanning over each resume.
Your CV has 30 seconds to make an impression before it makes it to either the Saved folder or the Recycle Bin. Here’s eight pointers on how to create a professional CV that will get you that past that critical first hurdle to getting hired.
#1 DECIDE THE KEY SECTIONS
A long, text-heavy resume is destined to be crunched up and used as a paper basketball. Dividing your CV into 3-4 clear section headers using a large font size makes it easier for the recruiter to spot what they are looking for without breaking a sweat.
Here are some Sections for you to pick from. For every section you pick, ask yourself whether you have something really important or interesting to add to that section.
- Header – This usually is where you add your name (again, big font is better) and contact details. These details only matter if you clear the selection process so don’t waste too much time on this. Using the Header section simple saves space in case you are aiming to have a 1-page CV, which is usually ideal if you are a fresher and don’t have work experience
- ‘About me’ – This is the first section in most CV’s. Think of it as the first impression you are going to create. It can therefore make or break your chances. A well written paragraph does two things. First, it makes the reader want to read more about you Second, in cases where all applicants have similar backgrounds (for example Commerce freshers), this acts as a tie-breaker to decide who gets shortlisted. Share a few details about who you are as a person, how your background has shaped you or what inspired you to do what you have done so far. Use words like ‘Driven’, ‘Interested in’, ‘Responsible’ to show how you’re aware of who you are.
- Educational qualifications – List your academic career starting from your most recent qualification, either your post-graduate diploma or degree. If you have accomplishments that could favor your hiring chances, add them in. Add skill-building or profile- building courses you may have completed in this section. These show that you aware of what skills are needed in the corporate sector other than an education degree.
- Career highlights / Leadership Roles
In case you are a fresher, don’t worry about your lack of experience. You can highlight aspects of your school or college life that showcase you as someone who did more than sit in the back row for 15 years. Were you a Class Monitor or a Prefect in school or a member of your College student body? Were you part of an organizational committee for inter-college events? Did you do well at extra—curricular events and competitive sports? How did you contribute? Did you perform well in leadership roles? Were you a team player? Explain why the role helped you demonstrate a useful skill. Don’t ramble on about winning a cooking contest in class 9, unless you helped organize the event, secured funding or went on to win Masterchef Junior.
If you have experience, start with your most recent role, the company you work for and the duration of your employment. Include key achievements in bullet form to offer a clearer idea of your responsibilities.
- Skills and interests – This is a line or two that adds depth to your character. Try to list hobbies that make you sound interesting, well-rounded and willing to learn new things. Also write down any hard or soft skills you have that are relevant to the kinds of positions you are targeting. If you have specific skills that give you an edge over the competition, write them down. Hard skills are technical skills, like being proficient in SEO marketing or data analysis. These can boost your ranking for the interview shortlist.
However, soft skills are also important. Whether you’re a strategic thinker or a flexible team player, its good to put these strengths down on paper. Either include them here or in the ‘about me’ section.
#2 VISUALIZE YOUR CV IN YOUR HEAD
Freshers can limit their resumes to a page. If you have a reasonable amount of experience, two pages should be enough. It depends on the value of your content.
Don’t crowd the words on the page. Use negative white space whenever possible so your resume looks pleasing to the eyes. Also, stick to the commonly used fonts like Helvetica, Arial or Times New Roman. Avoid the stylish, but harder-to-read fonts as a squinting recruiter is never good for business.
#3 WRITE A PARAGRAPH AT A TIME
Employers love brief resumes that highlight relevant information in a clear, crisp manner. A prospective candidate with the ability to self-edit his or her own written communication is every HR manager’s dream hire. They don’t have the time or head space to scan through 300-word, jargon-filled paragraphs of your autobiography. Keep your sentences short but effective.
Highlight important keywords so they are visible during a quick eye scan. Resumes get passed around from HR to respective departments, but your achievements will hit the target every time.
#4 RE-READ EACH PARAGRAPH
When your resume is economically written, make every word matter. Talk about your accomplishments using direct words like ‘Achieved’, ‘Delivered’, ‘Contributed’, ‘Created’ and ‘Analysed’ followed by the necessary facts and numbers.
If you’ve, ‘Achieved 20 percent growth in sales in first quarter of 2019’, then put it down on paper. Another important point to consider—don’t repeat your verbs. Don’t use ‘achieved’ more than once. Open a thesaurus, and identify other synonyms like ‘produced’, ‘accomplished’ or ‘managed’. Repeating the same word many times can distract the reader from focusing on the actual content.
#5 CORRECT YOUR GRAMMER AND SPELLINGS
A resume littered with too many grammatical errors can be tough to read. Those red and blue underlines you see under some words are there for a reason – fix them. Bad grammar and spelling mistakes make you look careless and not detail oriented. A basic spell check on your computer or a scan on grammarly.com can help you clean up all mistakes. If you know someone who has a good command over the language, get them to look over your resume. A clean, error-free resume has a higher chance of securing an interview.
#6 DON’T BE TOO MODEST
You may have been told repeatedly that it is impolite to brag about yourself in public. That rule doesn’t apply on paper. This is not the time to act humble. When writing a resume, you have to convince the recruiter that you’re worth talking to. Being aware of your strengths is important and can show just how much of a valuable asset you are. So don’t underplay your achievements or be shy about what you have achieved.
#7 RECOS AND REFERENCES
If applying to a specific company, listing a friend or a senior who works in that organization as a reference speaks highly about your focus and preparedness. Failing this, having 2-3 references or a former teacher or employer who has written you a recommendation definitely helps. Even a LinkedIn profile where your friends have tagged you on various work skills is great.
#8 AVOIDABLE STUFF
- No information about your parents, home, family or pets
- No photographs unless the job has specifically asked for one
- Don’t add graphics
- No slang or shortcuts. This is not a WhatsApp text
- Avoid cliched, dated phrases like ‘respected organization’ and ‘esteemed profession’. It’s not 1983 anymore
- Don’t mention your previous or expected salary. Those numbers are best saved for later negotiations
If you have ever been to a Conference or a Corporate Event, you would have seen a glass bowl at the reception full of hundreds and hundreds of visiting cards.
That’s exactly how a recruiter’s inbox looks like every day. It’s their job to go through each email and sort all those CV’s into two piles – interesting CV’s and not interesting CV’s.
The eight points in this article will help you get one foot in the door –paving the way for further interaction. So take your time, write a clear, concise resume and hopefully you’ll get the opportunity to take the next step towards your dream job