Creating your resume is simple
Let’s get right to the point. You need to write your resume and you don’t know where to begin. Let us help you with that. Here are a few pointers that will hopefully help.
How is your resume scanned & selected?
Before you get to the final rounds of interviews, your resume still needs to be selected. This is particularly true for companies hiring in large numbers
A resume might have to go through several stages of selection. Recruiters will typically have a few selection criteria on which you will be judged. These criteria will be different depending on the entry level.
For eg. For those fresh out of college, the recruiter might have an examination score cutoff. On the other hand, for a technical role, some certifications might be required. There is someone at the other end who is probably has to scan hundreds of resumes like yours. So, make it simple – highlight the relevant numbers & facts and try to place some of the ‘important’ data at the start rather than the end.
It is also possible, that the recruiter can be using an ATS (Applicant tracking system) software to scan resumes. While the exact location in the document might not matter here, the word count and the association with relevant information is important. Eg. If you have been Java developer for the past 2 years, the software should be able to read it and associate the same. Formatting plays a rol – clear headers, with bullets for instance can establish that.
Note: Document format normally does not matter – .pdf & .doc/.docx are the most commonly used. PDF files help retain formatting even when opened on different systems. However, the word document would be easier for an ATS to scan. When sending your resume to recruiter, share both formats. Alternatively, use word with a simpler structure.
What are you writing – a resume or a CV?
Let’s clear this confusion at the start.
Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for “course of life.” In contrast, resume is French for “summary.”.
CVs are usually used to apply for positions in academia where it is necessary to share more details about achievements and your journey. A CV therefore, can end run into a few pages.
Resumes on the other hand are meant for job applications. They are expected to be shorter and to the point.
On this site, we are focusing on resumes.
What are the steps in writing a resume?
Create a master dump
This can be the most time taking task especially when you are preparing your resume for the first time or after a long period. The idea is to create a master of every single one of your accomplishments (even if others don’t think so) and I mean every single one. Remember that participation certificate that you earned in the fourth grade in an elocution competition? You might think its insignificant, but at this stage you put everything into the dump. There is no limit to the dump, so don’t bother; add everything you can. You create just one master and keep updating it with each passing year.
Then we refine the dump. At this stage, we refine each point by adding in details – data, processes, names etc. How many participated in that quiz you won? Were you elected or selected to a position? What were those sales numbers? This can be painstakingly long especially if you are trying to remember details from a few years ago. But as we mentioned, the base file is created just once.
Decide how many resumes you want to create
Yes, you don’t have to create just one resume. If you are looking to apply to different roles, it would be wise to have several resumes, each showing you in slightly different light. As you decide the number, also think about what would be the focus for each. Finally, pick a primary resume; the one which you will likely use most often.
Create the primary resume
Start with your primary resume. What do you want to focus on? What will be weightage for each section? And most importantly, which points from your master dump do you choose to keep here. At this stage your resume can be about 30-50% more than the end desired length. Ie. If you are looking to prepare a 2 page resume, the first cut can go to 2.5-3 pages.
Then we refine again, in this round though you refine by summarizing and pruning. Make choices, merge points to make a larger stronger point and tell your story in a more concise way, so that you can say more.
Alter the primary resume to create variants
Your variants shouldn’t be too far away from the primary resume. If they are, then you think again about your what you genuinely want as a next move for your career. You may change the layout, the order and certainly a few points.
Format the resume
Pick your font, colours and most importantly your layout. Remember to;
- Adjust your margins so that the text is well spaced out and your page is well utilized.
- Highlight important words that you want the recruiter to notice. Making them bold is the most common way to do that
Whilst trying to include as many points as possible, DO NOT stuff your page with text. Space out your resume well enough so that it isn’t just pleasing to look at, at first glance but also readable. Give your text some breathing space.
What should be covered in a resume?
Yes, there are certain sections which are generally used, some which are of course expected.
Intro: We are referring to the few lines, usually at the start of the resume telling the recruiter about yourself. Intros are good as a summary – that’s it. Restrict your Intro to one, at best two lines. Don’t go on about your qualities, rather let your achievements bring those points out.
Academic achievements: Summarize your education and any certifications or important training programs you have undertaken. When stating your academic record, its best to be honest & upfront. Most companies will ask you anyway for your grades etc so don’t hide it. Its best to handle this section in tabular format with your degrees not taking more than 3-4 lines.
Work experience: This really IS the resume, isn’t it? Your work experience can be broken up into 2 major parts – roles & responsibilities and achievements. You can merge them, putting your achievements within the context of a role or you can separate them out. Roles must bring out your span of control, your responsibilities and the impact on the organization (from a BAU context). Achievements need to highlight how well you did your job.
Work experience should start from your most recent role and organization and go in reverse chronological order. Remember to show the timeline as well – dates for every role.
Recency matters – focus more on your last role/s. The bulk of the work experience section should be occupied by something you did several years ago.
Extra-curricular achievements: When you are fresher, this section just replaces Work experience. Use it to showcase qualities that would potentially make you a great employee – team leadership, public speaking, science projects etc
Hobbies & interests: Another section that should be short if added. The only job of this section is to highlight other facets of you, the person. You can choose not to add this as well if there is a lack of space. For some roles, this might come in handy. Eg Copywriter – do you write a blog? What books do you read? Etc.
However, do add details that gives the reader a sense of how passionate you are and depth of involvement. Eg. You like trekking – how many treks have you completed? What’s the highest you have trekked to? Etc
Personal details: This should be just the basics – your name, Email Id, phone number and maybe a link to your LinkedIn profile. Recruiters don’t need any more information about your personal life, nor should you share it. Some like to add a photo in as well. Unless you are building a profile for a model, your photo is irrelevant and you are wasting space on your resume. And good, genuine recruiters are likely to think the same way.
Your personal details should ideally be placed in the footer of the page.
What is ideal structure and flow for a resume?
We aren’t sure about what is ideal, but we have put together 2 tables that could give you an idea/direction for the same. That being said, you are free to break every rule we have mentioned. There will always be that niche role which will need a different pitch – It’s your resume, go ahead and make the changes.
To start off, here are priorities by section and the proposed order as well. You can bunch the intro with the personal details, or just have the personal details at the start. Please don’t ever lead with hobbies & interests though.
|Hobbies & Interests||Med||4|
|Personal details||High||1 or footer|
Next is the weightage you give to each section. We have created a table by years of work experience. Note that these are directional. Please don’t start counting the number of characters in each section. As mentioned before, recency matters – within work experience as well, allocate more space to recent experience.
|Weightage / Work exp. in years||Fresh (0 yrs)||<2||2-5||5-10||10+ years|
|Hobbies & Interests||10%||5%||5%||0-5%||0-5%|
Should the resume be one or two pages or more?
Certainly not more than two. One or two is often debated. It is often also said that as you move up, the resume goes from two pages to one. Why? Because, recommendations and peer reviews carry a lot more weight. They do so at all levels quite frankly, but towards the top, there would simply be more reviews. Nonetheless, if you do choose to go with one page, remember to be very precise with your work experience. One page can also be a good option for a fresher – if you don’t have much to talk about, then don’t! Don’t add in unnecessary points that will distract the recruiter or diminish a few good achievements.
Should I describe the company I work for? How?
If the organization isn’t well known or if you are applying to a role within a different industry, then one line about the company might help. Stick to employee count, revenue and its stature in the market. Don’t use up more than a line. The description should appear right below the company name as part of your work experience.
Are there any good resume builder tools?
Yes, you. Honestly, we haven’t researched that topic and I’m sure there are some decent tools available. But, you want to be hands-on when it comes to making your resume.