The most important step in securing a job is to get an interview call. A resume that stands out from others is needed to get that opportunity. Many job seekers make basic mistakes with their résumés – mistakes that often end up denying them the interviews they deserve. Though securing a job depends a lot on your abilities, presenting yourself in the best possible manner is imperative, and a résumé is the first step of that process. Keep the following things in mind when writing a résumé:
Contrary to popular belief, a résumé does not necessarily fit in one page. Your résumé can be of any number of pages; the only rule that applies here is that the length should be appropriate, according to your qualifications, experience and achievements. If in doubt, follow the general rule that less than five years experience probably only requires one page.
A résumé has to be perfect. Proofread it over and over again. When you are sure it’s perfect, have others go through it and point out the mistakes. There should be no errors of spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Mistakes portray a casual approach and can ruin your chances of being called for an interview.
Spend some time working on the layout of the résumé. It should be designed in a way that makes it is easy to read and highlights your key strengths clearly. If your résumé is badly laid out, disorganised or hard to read, it will be discarded before the reader knows how qualified you are.
Think of a résumé as an advertisement for a product, only this time the product is you. Just like any other advertisement, on a résumé, positioning is everything. The person who receives your résumé will scan it quickly perhaps, often no longer than half-a-minute to determine whether you can help their company. Your résumé is the most effective tool in showing them that you can.
Many people do not compose a résumé that highlights their abilities effectively. They have problems charting out their strengths and matching them with the employers’ requirement. Every jobseeker has ‘buying motivators’ – contributions that you have made in your career that would encourage a company to hire you. Think about the areas in which you have made useful contributions to your previous jobs and bring out your achievements.
Don’t start with what you want. Recruiters don’t like it because it focuses on the needs of the job seeker rather than the needs of the potential employer. Consider this statement: “Seeking a senior executive position with a progressive employer where I can contribute to the development of product brands and work with intelligent, dedicated people.” The employer does not care what you want. Instead, try using a statement that concisely explains what you have to offer. For instance something like: “Senior Executive with 10 years experience promoting product brand.” Now the reader can immediately see your value to the company. For even greater impact, modify this statement according to the post applied for, so that the employer immediately sees a match between his needs and your skills.
Specify your contributions
You can make your achievements more meaningful by providing specific details. Don’t say something vague like ‘contributed to company sales’. This says nothing about your actual contribution. Instead, be specific about what you did: ‘Conducted market analysis for the product to determine design and mechanics. Led changes to original design specifications despite initial developer objections. Received critical acclaim and sold over four lakh units’. This level of detail shows the employer the extent of your contributions and can expect what you will deliver in the future.
Outline achievements and responsibilities
Don’t provide a list of previous job responsibilities, which most employers already know about, without showing what results you achieved. Focus most of your résumé on the results you accomplished, not the regular duties of your job.
Made money for the company
Helped the company save money or reduce costs
Implemented processes that save time or increase work productivity
Improved company’s competitive advantage in the market
Enhanced corporate image or building company’s reputation in its industry
Resume integrity is critical. Many people admit to adding that little white lie to their resume, to make their case for that job just that little bit stronger. Maybe you changed your title to ‘Administration Manager’ even though you had no staff to supervise. Perhaps you omitted to tell them that you didn’t finish that degree. Employers have become more alert about resumes, and will cross check any tall claims, or anything that doesn’t sound plausible.
Are you too modest?
Too many people play down their achievements. While you should never exaggerate on a résumé, you should definitely take credit for the things you’ve accomplished. Some people feel uncomfortable boasting on paper, preferring to explain in an interview. But if your résumé doesn’t evoke interest, you may never get that opportunity.
Avoid irrelevant information
Don’t list your hobbies unless they directly support your qualifications for the position. Don’t delve into the details of your marital status or the number of children you have. Don’t mention political or religious volunteer work unless it directly relates to the position you are applying for. Any personal information runs the risk of turning the reader off.
When you send out your résumé, it must speak specifically about you. Your résumé has to make your sales pitch in a clear and compelling manner. Invest the time to make it exceptional and you will see an immediate increase in the response rate.