Presenting your resume is the first step in the process of getting a desired job. A good resume will land you an interview; a sloppy one won’t. Hence, the importance of writing a powerful resume doesn’t need much emphasis.

A ‘Resume’ is like a marketing brochure that highlights the skills and potential of the candidate. ‘Resume’ and ‘Curriculum Vitae’ generally mean the same thing. However, in certain cases, a CV is longer and contains more details like publications, speaking engagements, affiliations and continuing education.

An effective resume plays a very important role in reaching the interview-level in a job-selection process. Remember, the first impression is the last impression.

Resume length:
An effective resume is always brief and concise. However, it should have enough details to help the recruiter decide the appropriateness of the candidate for the job. There is no rule about the appropriate resume length. Whilst writing your resume, ask yourself whether the statement will help you land the interview. If the answer is yes, then include it in your resume; if not, then don’t. Normally, 80% of the recruiter’s time and attention is focussed on the first page of the resume. Hence, the resume should be to the point.

Types of resumes:
There are 3 different formats of resumes, chronological, functional and combined format. Choose what best suits your writing style or expressive convenience.

The tried and tested format of a resume is a chronological resume which lists employment history in reverse order. But a chronological resume isn’t perfect for everyone. If you’ve held a number of different or unrelated jobs during a relatively short span of time and are worried of being labelled a ‘job-hopper’, then a ‘functional resume’ may be appropriate for you.

A ‘functional resume’ could also be beneficial for those who have taken a break from employment due to personal reasons.

Functional resume does have its drawbacks though. Leaving off dates or titles can raise doubts in the recruiter’s mind that you are trying to hide something, which in most case would be true. Hence, it would be better to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of using this format. If the pros outweigh the cons, then you can go ahead with a functional resume.

Whenever possible, use a chronological resume. If you are concerned about a layoff; and feel that recruiters would use it against you, you may be wrong. Unemployment is quite common. Most people do something to sharpen their work-skills. Use that information to fill the gaps.

Useful tips for effective resume-writing:

(i) Design a readable format.

(ii) Use titles that match the job applied for.

(iii) Identify certain keywords that match the job description and use it whenever possible in the resume. However, do not overdo it.

(iv) Try to use terminology related to your field.

(v) Try to meet the hidden needs of the recruiter. Make the recruiter feel that you suit the job perfectly.

(vi) Make sure to modify the resume as per the needs of the job. Have objectives that match the job.

(vii) Try not to include a salary requirement. Since the recruiter is yet to appreciate your real value, he may feel that your expectation is too high or too low.

(viii) Do not include any personal information. Your name, home address and contact details would suffice.

(ix) Make sure to check your spellings, typos and grammar. These errors are a big turn-off.

(x) Maintain consistency in using capital letters, italics and bulleting style.

(xi) Be specific. Do not include unnecessary and confusing information.

(xii) Numbers, dollars and percentages (#, $ and %) stand out in the body of a resume. Use them as and when possible.

(xiii) If you have negative information about yourself, try and avoid using it on your resume. If you must use it, then write it in a manner such that the impact is kept to the minimum.

(xiv) If you are willing to relocate or have definite plans of where you want to move to, do mention it with your current address. 

Make sure to seek permission from the people you mention as your references. Identify a few people who are your friends and with whom you have worked on a daily basis. Then talk to each person privately and ask if he/she will serve as a reference. Try not to persuade them to say only good things about you. Just ask them to give honest answers to the questions asked by the recruiter. Make sure you ask them what contact details to include in your resume.

Loyalty sometimes has its disadvantages
Sometimes the fact that you have served many years at the same company may give an impression that your skills have stagnated. You can avoid this by constantly refreshing your skills through formal education and self-study. Create a Professional Development section on your resume to list your ongoing education. Also, mention how you have progressed in your job, for e.g. list the various posts your have held and for how long. 

Freshers may lose out too
For freshers, it would be beneficial to compensate your lack of experience by coming across as a highly motivated person. Try to bring out your enthusiasm for the job. To do this, make a list of objections or reservations that the recruiter may have about hiring you. Next to each point, note down the reasons as to why each objection is invalid. This will help you highlight the reasons why the recruiter should give you a chance.

If you’ve ever been in a position of responsibility, try to mention it in your resume to prove that you are capable of handling critical situations. 

Proof-reading your resume:
Once your resume is ready, always proof-read it thoroughly. If possible, get someone else to read it.

Update your resume:
Remember to keep your resume up-to-date, despite the fact that you have a job and have no intentions of looking out for another in the near future. You might just forget some important points if you write a resume under pressure.

Covering letter:
When you send your resume through mail, you must accompany it with a covering letter. A neatly typed covering letter makes a positive impact on the recruiter’s mind.
‘Covering letter’ normally includes the following information:
(i) Your name, address and contact details
(ii) The date
(iii) The name and address of the recruiter and his company
(iv) The salutation followed by the person’s last name, or ‘To Whom it may concern’ if you are applying to an ad.
(v) An opening paragraph explaining how you came to know of the job and that you are interested in applying for the job being offered.
(vi) One or two paragraphs explaining your qualification, experiences and appropriateness for the job.
(vii) The final paragraph should contain a request to be called for an interview
(viii) The closing Sincerely or Yours Truly followed by your signature with your name typed under it. 

The covering letter should not exceed one page in length. The language should be simple and polite.

Make sure that you write a separate covering letter for each job applied for. Personalise it as much as possible. Use good quality paper for both your covering letter and resume.

While it is important to include a covering letter with your resume, it may be possible that the recruiter may not read it and may directly review your resume instead. However, the reverse could also be true. Hence, it is all the more important to mention the vital points in both the covering letter and the resume.

Resume-writing is an art. You have to use your creativity and judgement to craft a convincing resume. All you have to do is keep the above points in mind and take out enough time to craft your best resume. Best of luck

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  1. Madhur says:

    Nicely well written article!!

    will use ur tips also….hope u don mind if i take sum extracts from this article for mah site too!

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