Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ten ways to make your resume stand out

Your resume alone cannot get you a job, but it is an effective tool to get you shortlisted for an interview. Use it if you have failed to connect with the decision-maker personally for an interview call. A resume is effective only if it is sharp and here's how you can get that edge.
1. Make experience count
Do not use sonorous adjectives to describe how fabulous you are. Under each job, highlight only your achievements and relevant skills. Use 4-6 bulleted points to cover important ground. Prefer measurable, verifiable numbers over statements like 'Improved sales dramatically'. Benchmark each achievement to maximise impact. For instance, 'Best Regional Manager for 2013 from 11 regions' is better than 'Awarded for outstanding sales performance'.
2. Reflect the requirement
Do you know what the firm does and the responsibilities of the role you want to apply to? If not, do your research and break up the requirements into three sets of skills: hygiene skills, paid skills and differential skills. If you are applying for a consulting role, then mastery of Excel sheets and presentation are hygiene skills.
However, the company will pay you a salary for your ability to analyse and solve problems and communicate with the client. The skills that differentiate you from the other applicants may include your domain knowledge of medical devices if the clients happen to be hospitals. Reflect these skills in your resume through past work experience.
3. Game the technology
All large recruiters use applicant tracking software to manage their recruitment workload. At the first stage, your resume goes into their database. Then a recruiter either executes a search query or manually views it to look for key words or skills specific to the role. Make sure that your resume contains all the key words relevant to you and commonly used in the industry where you are applying. Get the terminology right with respect to the target company. So, for chartered accountants, recruiters either look for 'internal audit' or 'statutory audit' and not just 'audit'.
4. Don't be a risk
Was your designation relatively higher in your previous role? Are there too many job changes in a short time? Are you an on-and-off entrepreneur? Have you worked in a different city for a very long time? Are you more qualified than your boss? All these represent potential risks for the employer, who may assume that you may not last too long in the job being offered. In your resume and interview, do not stress upon those aspects of your career that convey greater risk to the recruiter.
5. Fade out the past
Do you have tons of experience that you are trying to cram into a 1-2 page curriculum vitae? Remember that all phases of your life are not equal and your resume is not meant to be a balanced autobiography. Focus on recent roles and experiences and fade out large portions of the past into 1-2 lines each. That diploma in German done in 1995 is immaterial, just like the one-month internship at an NGO in 2002 or the 20-yearold degree in dance.

6. Rule of thirds
Tear out the top one-third of the first page of your resume and read it. Will it get you the interview? The unofficial rule of thirds states that recruiters notice only the top of your resume to make up their minds. Start with your name, e-mail ID and mobile number, so that people can contact you to convey their interest. Then either write a summary or include your best selling points, along with your latest job, right at the top of the first page. Shift your home address to the footer or delete it completely.
7. Use subheads
Divide your CV into relevant sections — work experience, academics, honours and awards, leadership roles, etc. For each section, decide what you want to include and how you will highlight it.
8. Learn from Google
Google makes money from strategic ad placements. They have learnt that while reading, the mind gives more credence to what is at the top rather than the bottom, and to what is on the left rather than the right, following our reading pattern. So, organise your more important sections and achievements accordingly, say, 'Ranked 3rd out of 150 management trainees at the plant'.
9. Help the evaluator
Help the recruiter read your resume. Use a familiar font with a 10-12 point size. Put your work experience in reverse chronological order and convert the resume into a pdf. Avoid pictures, images, graphics, etc, and declutter the layout. The only time to break this rule is when you are showcasing a portfolio where images can help sell a better story.
10. Iterate, iterate, iterate
Any business school graduate will tell you that the perfect resume is a collaborative effort requiring endless iterations. Show your resume to as many friends and wellwishers as possible and use their inputs to refine it. Each time you customise your resume for a new role, repeat the exercise. This can easily help convert long shots into shortlists.

1. Statement

The objective statement, listing what you seek in a job, is a hangover from the past. No one cares. Recruiters want to know what you can give them? So, replace it with a headline, say, 'Supply chain consultant' and summarise key skills below it.
2. Third page
A one-page resume is the norm for freshers and most professionals. This can go up to a maximum of two pages if you have more than 10 years of experience. Cut out lesser achievements from your CV. They won't get you shortlisted.

3. Bad e-mail ID
Using your present workplace e-mail in a resume is a terrible idea since your employer has the right to monitor your e-mails. E-mail IDs like are equally bad. Get a new e-mail ID like
4. Resume.pdf
The recruiter receives several CVs. Calling your CV, Resume.pdf, makes it difficult to search it later. Calling it NehaMarketing.pdf implies you have multiple CVs and lack focus. Instead, name it NehaSharma.pdf.
5. Typos & errors
Employers believe that if you respect yourself and really need the job, you will be careful with the resume you share with them. Typos and grammatical errors in the CV are frowned upon and routinely rejected in roles that are in high demand.

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