Resume Writing Tips Cover Letter Writing Tips
Writing your resume or even evaluating the quality of your current resume is often a daunting task. Perhaps the following resume tips will make life easier for you! We have just begun this section; as we go along there will be many more hot tips for you.
Your resume is your primary career marketing device. The word résumé has a French root meaning "summary" or "synopsis" - of your career. More to the point it summarizes your skills, experience, education and achievements, and presents you as a viable and attractive candidate for a job or role. Your resume makes the first impression on your prospective employer. It is your very own placement agency and the strongest tool during your job search. Often your resume is your only ally in your hard struggle to get the right job. Your resume is your friend, your sales agent and your personal advertisement.
Even fifteen years ago, a recommendation letter might have been considered more important for a job search in India than your resume, but thankfully things have changed for the better, and today most jobs in most Indian private companies are given through a fairly competitive process. Your resume is therefore definitely the most important career document in your life. In your absence - it speaks for you, explains your career progression, focuses on your areas of professional and personal strengths and sells you as the ideal person for the applied job. Your resume is a chronicle of what you are, how you have performed, what your aspirations are and what you can achieve.
The main purpose of a resume is to win you an invite to a job interview. The common fallacy that a resume is supposed to get you the job will hold only if the job you are applying for is that of a resume writer!
Another extremely crucial purpose of the resume is to support you during the interview. I have seen even professional resume writers often make the mistake of assuming that the complete purpose of a resume is served when an invitation for the interview arrives. That of course is not the case as even most of the questions asked by an interviewer are usually based on the direction given by the resume. A good resume will guide the interviewer towards areas which you want to talk about. Of course those areas should be your strengths.
Yet another critical purpose of your resume includes avoiding the trash can - in the first 30 seconds (by creating a quick positive impression), in the next 2 minutes (by establishing yourself as not unsuitable for the job), in the next 1 hour (by positioning you as an attractive candidate) and in the next few days (by positioning your profile as superior to the competition).
Even if you are not actively seeking a job, your resume will provide you with a sense of direction by forcing a disciplined response to key career questions that face you. Though most often used in the job context your resume might also be required while applying for a freelance project, graduate school or an educational grant/scholarship.
One page whenever possible. Two pages, if not.
Since the purpose is to help the employer make a snap decision (seldom exceeding 2 minutes per resume) about sending you an interview invite, the shorter your resume the better. The length of the resume should be correlated to the time the employer can possible allot for you rather than the length or breadth of your career. If large multi-billion $ companies, huge cities and historical figures can have their sketches written in a single page why can't you?
In India we do not yet have a standard resume length and I have seen resumes ranging from 1-23 pages! I am a strong votary for a single page resume standard in India, which will not only allow clear and concise presentation of a profile, but also save millions of man-hours - for prospective employees and employers. Having said that, I must affirm that if you are confident of holding the attention and interest of the employer, I will not object even to a 1000 page treatise!
The key elements of a resume are content, focus, uniqueness, structure and design. Each in it's own way is critical.
Content is king. The message and information that you convey (or do not convey) will decide the fate of your resume. Include all relevant details that will help you but exclude all extraneous data - that above everything else should be your focus while developing your resume.
Communication, like everything else, works best when unambiguously focused. Choose an area (industry, expertise, function) that you want to focus on and within that define a place for yourself. Since in 99% of the cases the employer is looking at specific requirements, make your positioning as specific as possible - you can easily uncover the employer's focus area with some research.
A large number of my clients initially feel that their profile cannot be differentiated from that of their peers within the same function. Gradually they come around to my point of view that even identical twins working for same company in similar functions cannot possible be identical. So the first step in presenting yourself uniquely (which in the final analysis is THE objective of the entire resume writing exercise) is to understand that you ARE unique.
Your resume should be structured logically. Ensure that important aspects that you have identified as critical to your candidature are presented as early as possible (after which they must preferably be repeated and substantiated). Data that can be substantiated should find supportive arguments or incidents earlier than later. The information flow should not be counter-intuitive: e.g. your core job profile should precede a listing of your ancillary responsibilities.
The visual design of your resume is helpful at two separate levels. Firstly it will attract attention in the crucial 0.25 seconds of the first look and extend the life of your resume to stage two. Secondly it will make easier reading once your content convinces the employer to give it a fuller reading.
All these will not only help you create a good resume, but will also present you as an intelligent professional with organizational, writing, analytical and logical thinking skills.
If you are serious about your career, you require a serious resume to propel your career forward. You could be a fresher or a professional with vast experience, male or female, applying in India or abroad, for senior management position or at entry level. You might be a seasoned professional - Software Engineer, Accountant, CEO, Admin Manager, Design Engineer, Sales Executive, Factory Machinist, Professor, HR Executive, Hardware Engineer, Scientist - or you might be a graduate seeking your first job through a campus interview. If it is a truly remarkable resume that you require, then Vibranturre is definitely the place for you.
Vibranturre is almost certainly the best resume writing service in India (and Asia), and one of the best in the world. So if you believe that yours must be the finest resume that money can buy, you are just a click away from it.
The hero of this single-page script, your resume, is indubitably - YOU.
For most people their resume is often the only biography that is ever written of them. So go ahead and present yourself in the best possible light.
Approach the resume as if you are creating an advertisement for you - and you actually are too! Talk about what makes you valuable to a prospective employer and what made you valuable to your earlier employers. Underscore your skills, strengths and expertise areas with appropriate accomplishments from your work history. List your relevant academic achievements and qualifications. Show that you are the best - after all the objective of this entire exercise is to choose one (or more) of the best from a selection of competing candidates.
Perhaps in your autobiography, or in a letter to your fiancée or fiancé, or maybe even as a confessional for self-improvement - but certainly not in your resume. Your resume is your own personalized advertisement - which is the last ad you have seen that lists all the weaknesses or problems of the product?
Whenever you feel that a particular facet or characteristic might work to your disadvantage, go right ahead and delete it from your resume. Take an exception to this rule only if you feel strongly that a missing piece of information is too obvious or that it might convey a deliberately incomplete image of your self. Of course, if you have the skills to do it, the best option is to neutralize a weakness by deemphasizing its importance (through positioning, using language or by juxtaposition with a strength).
Having said that, understanding your weaknesses (either through introspection or through talks with friends and colleagues) will be of immeasurable help either in an interview context or more critically in choosing job positions that use your strengths most aptly.
Whether it is getting a job, catching a train, negotiating a deal, winning a date, running a marathon ..whatever.. in the final analysis whether you lose or gain depends on a thin margin of error. Maybe the fact that Vibranturre is probably Asia's best resume writing service might be the difference that will win the day for you. Do you think you deserve the best? Then perhaps Vibranturre is your next call.
You are the best judge of the value of your resume and in the larger perspective, your career. Quantitatively analyzing the worth of your man-days might be an objective method starting this process. So assuming you are drawing a salary of Rs.100,000 per month, and assuming you work 25 days a month, your daily earning is Rs.4,000. Similarly a salary of Rs.50,000 would work out to daily earnings of Rs.2,000 and a salary of Rs.200,000 would work out to daily earnings of Rs.8,000.
Now decide if your payment for a truly high quality resume can save you, in time and effort calculations, what you might save by getting a job earlier. Decide if the cost is worth the comfort of facing your interview with greater confidence. Decide if the cost is worth knowing that you will probably be considered a superior candidate based on the sheer quality of the resume alone. Of course I am not even beginning to calculate the value of being short-listed for an interview, when without a truly standout resume, you would not have been invited for the interview.
Perhaps you can also compare it with what that value represents in terms of other purchases. Let us take specifics. What you pay for your resume might be roughly equal to the cost of a two night stay in a hotel suite. So? The decision is still yours to make.
Sure... with different resumes.
While an individual might possess the skills to apply for jobs in varied functions and industries, even the best resume can seldom achieve such a multi-tasking proficiency. The reason is simple: different successful job pursuits involve different presentations about the self, different interview answers and altogether different approaches. Since the requirements and expectations from different jobs might vary greatly, you naturally assume the appropriate cultural mindset for the specific job.
Obviously the resume cannot change itself automatically! So when applying for different job profiles do apply with separately customized resumes for each targeted job. In fact even when applying to the SAME designation and function in different companies try to send focused resumes that highlight your differing, specific potential value to each employer.
Aim everywhere and you will get nowhere. So choose carefully and focus determinedly.
Introspect deeply. This introspection is the most critical part of your resume creation process. Talk to the person who knows you best - yourself - and answer critical questions about what you want to achieve through your resume. Delineate your objectives, target industries/companies, functional and professional strengths and expertise areas. Ask yourself questions that you might expect in a tough job interview - find objections to your candidature and incorporate rebuttals within the body of your resume, whenever necessary (remember that listing all weaknesses is wrong strategy). At Vibranturre our intensive one-hour discussion session is designed specifically to force introspection through the right questions (different for each person) and uncover all main aspects of your profile.
Make extensive notes on yourself, your academics, your skill sets and each of your job tenures. Bug your spouse and close friends to make brief SWOT analyses of YOU. Ask skilled friends or qualified professionals to conduct mock interviews. Once you have used all these avenues the resume writing process can begin.
Visually the resume should be attractive and easy to read. A single look should automatically draw the attention of the reader to the main 1-2 points you want to strongly convey. Please ensure quality in each facet of your presentation.
Paper: In India use size A4 sheets (8.27" width and 11.69" height) and print only on one side of the paper. Standard size is preferred as it allows the employer to easily file your resume. While white or off-white paper is the standard feel free to use other light colored papers - if you feel that your personality, that of the applied for job and that of the employer allow it.
Font: Use clear typefaces like Verdana, Times New Roman, Helvetica or Tahoma. Font size ranging from 9 to 14 points is best: however different fonts have different sizes for the same font size, so use as appropriate. Preferably use just a single font or expand the selection to two, to include an additional font for emphasis or headings.
Cover: Do NOT fold the resume. Use an A4+ or foolscap hard paper cover to mail your resume. Type the address clearly at front and back.
Printing: Laser print your resume. Its simple, effective and cheap.
Design Consistency: Follow simple and consistent rules of design within your resume. Italics, alignment, boldface, bulleting, underlining, and font sizes should reflect similar ideas throughout the resume. For example, if your first header is middle aligned and bold, the next one should be too; or job dates are in month/year format they should be similar throughout the resume.
This is going to be one long list :-)
As a general rule anything that jeopardizes your chances of job success or any irrelevant data that simply takes away space and attention from your communication must be excluded. Some examples are
Resume Objective: Your objective is simple - to get the job you are applying for! What additional objective can you possibly put forth? Do not waste the time of your potential employer and the space in your resume.
Reasons for leaving a job: Desist from going into reasons for leaving any of your previous jobs. That particular story can seldom present your earlier employer AND yourself in positive light, and should be definitely kept away from the resume. Even during the interview this is an area full of live mines waiting to explode in your face - beware!
A "Resume" heading: Why would you DO that??! Through your covering letter and through the header in your mailing cover and through a quarter-second-glance at your resume it will be obvious that it is actually a resume. Why waste valuable real estate for stating the obvious?
References: Usually each company has its own policies regarding references - which will not change irrespective of what you mention in your resume. So generally it is quite enough to indicate availability of references.
Confidential Information: Information that your current or previous company treats as confidential should be treated as such by you in your resume. In case you divulge such information, why should a potential employer not expect such behavior from you again?
Negative Remarks: Avoid direct negative comments about any individual or institution. It will seldom work to your advantage.
Controversial Topics: Avoid even a hint of controversy in your resume. First, because even if you are right you will not be present to defend your position. Second, even if you are present (during the interview) the precious time you have earned is not for arguing the pros/cons of a welfare society, presidential electoral system in India or job reservation in private sector (don't you dare!), but for making a sales pitch to win yourself a job.
There are scores of stylistic and strategic mistakes you can make while developing your resume. The worst however are the following.
Lie: Ethical issues apart, being untruthful in a document that can be checked for its verity ANY time in the future seems less than a clever move. Besides, do you really lack the confidence and faith of winning the job on your own, with the truth?
Copy: Plagiarizing a friend's or colleague's resume is a truly silly solution even for a lazy, feeble minded person. But instances of copying complete resume sections verbatim (or sometimes even the entire resume - truly! - with just the name changed!) is too common. The fact that both the copier and the copied lose ALL credibility when the two resume are compared (since most things are copied, we have to assume that the job applications might be sent to similar places as well) demonstrates the exceptional lack of intelligence in this approach.
The only reason for an address in your resume is to facilitate a reply. Many applicants, especially in the Indian context, commit the gaffe of mentioning two addresses - a "permanent address" and then a "present address" - in their resumes. It is a confusing and irritating practice.
Include your current mailing address, your phone number and your email id. That will do.
ANY experience that highlights your skills or can showcase your achievements can be included in the resume. The decision to include part-time or volunteer work exposure in your resume should be made with a view to enhancing the overall strength of the resume.
If you have very little experience, then the value of any work (part-time, voluntary or temporary) becomes high. Include it in the best way possible. If you possess loads of rich work exposure, then you can summarize or even altogether ignore the part time experience.
Often you might underrate the value of your part time experience because it was at a small concern owned by a relative or friend. remember that the value of your experience is decided by how you performed, what you gained and how you present all that in the resume.
Make the choice that suits you best.
As a rule do not include references in your resume. Almost no company requires references as a pre-qualification for an interview. The most that is required is to indicate availability of references; even that is superfluous because each organization has its own HR policies (inclusive of the number and type of references required before the candidate is appointed officially) which will not change irrespective of what you mention in your resume.
As the resume is an initial communication please do not divulge confidential/personal information about your referee like their address, email or contact number. References with referee addresses or contact numbers should never be included in a generally circulated resume.
Inclusion of hobbies and interests in your resume serves two purposes. First it can be used to support skills or characteristics that you have already mentioned in your resume. For example, being a local Chess champion might support your claim of competitive spirit and analytical thinking; or mountaineering as a hobby might indicate ability to work in teams and good health (perhaps!).
Apart from the specific relevance to the job application, mention of your hobbies and interest offers an additional arena for establishing rapport with the interviewer. After all the employer is also a flesh and blood person (though some job applicants dispute that!). Also, all (good) interviewers bring a personal touch to the interview - your hobbies are often the best way to find a balance between your personal and public selves.
By the way, if you intend to list "Watching TV, reading magazines" as your hobbies please ignore the last two paragraphs.
Since any break in your career progression is an automatic red flag when your resume is being viewed, identify the gaps in your work experience and de-emphasize them as much as possible. Whatever you do, ensure that dates are not suddenly missing from a sequence. Jumping over a gap in your employment in the resume, will just make the employer concentrate on the missing link and make that a definite point for discussion during the interview.
Uncover work experience you might have gained during the periods of non-employment. You might have given specialized expert advice for certain businesses, or headed certain civic or local area bodies, or even contributed to certain voluntary organizations. These can either be directly incorporated as work experience or slotted separately as Additional Work Experience. If it is the latter, use the functional resume format instead of the usual Reverse Chronological format.
Preferably no particular explanations should be given at this stage of your job application process; if required they should happen at the interview. However if you feel that the gap in your employment is very obvious and might be a stumbling block use the cover letter to enlighten the employer very briefly on the reasons for the same.
It is certainly a matter of choice to include personal information in your resume. But including your gender and age (even in countries like USA, where it is illegal for a company to demand such information) is useful for the employer to form a mental picture of a prospective employee.
Inclusion of further details follows the basic rule stated earlier - include all relevant details that will help you but exclude all extraneous data. Exclude height, weight and other vital statistics, unless the job applied for specifically demands it. Do not include your father's and mother's names or occupations. If the marital status helps, put it in. Actually if your religion, race or caste helps, put that in too (of course, it is your decision whether you want to work for an organization where such things matter).
It happens more often than you might imagine that your Designation or Job Title gives an inaccurate or inappropriate reflection of your actual work profile.
The best option in such a case is to either replace the designation with a job description like Profit Center Management or a more accurate job title like Branch Manager with the actual designation in small type like Officer Second Class in your resume.
Feel free to address your queries regarding resume writing or cover letter writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that answers to your questions will appear only as part of this section and will not be emailed personally to you.
Please read our ethics and services pages as well, before contacting us. If you identify with our perspectives, and are happy to pay a premium for a premium service, then maybe we should partner to sculpt a resume for you that you will be proud of. - Prince Peter
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