Tips for good resume writing - Beyond the basics

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In the introductory part of resume writing, we defined the objective of writing a resume. We also learned that it is important to balance between the need to catch a recruiter's attention and the need to sustain interest. We also covered important points about using readymade resume templates from the internet.

Let us now go beyond the above basics and probe techniques that produce targeted results.

If you are still wondering how all this is important then look at this research-backed statement: A resume that misses the mark can add 4 to 9 months to your job search. That could mean thousands of lost rupees in income and a lot of unwarranted stress for you.

After all the effort you would invest in building a career and presenting it in your resume, recruiters get under 10 seconds to decide on your resume. This means: 

(A) Your resume title is important

(B) You need to get the important information right on top

Here is an example of creating an impact with your title:

Bad title: Developer

Good title: Engineer with 2 years experience: Java, JavaScript, MS SQL

It is important to put related skills together to present depth and present your core strengths right at the title. The title should clearly answer the question: What are you?

In terms of getting the most important information right on top, one of the common mistakes is having the address, education and contact details right at the top. If your recruiter is impressed with your skills, they will dig out contact information. In addition, if your education is not your unique selling proposition, and you are one among million other graduates in the same stream, let that information come in the end.

Keywords: Importance and usage

If you are familiar with the internet, or if you have dabbled with internet advertising a little bit, you would have heard of 'keywords'. Most recruitment processes – enterprise, small-medium enterprises (SME) and even some small businesses – have gotten into the habit of searching for a resume. Often this goes beyond mere filtering of resumes into the fitment process. Fitment is the usage of keywords and recruitment intelligence to match resumes to job descriptions.

You could have the best of skills for the job position or you could possess the best talent in the market. If your resume does not represent such hotshot skills into keywords, chances are your resume will sink to the bottom of several databases. This statement is very relevant in case of popular online recruitment portals and talent management systems that recruiters use.

How will you know which keywords attract your target employer? Read their job description (open job order) from the employer's website or job portals. Carefully observe their choice of words and match steps with keywords in your resume. It does help to know that most keywords forming in-built searches are nouns.

Beyond Keywords: Making it readable

We have thus taken care of automation of resume searches. However, we need to be aware that a resume built purely for the resume search engines is going to make for poor reading. Visualise a document stacked with keywords – what happens to readability. We are back into long winding, boring…

It is time to learn about action words. Action words are the right deterrents to keywords – they are meant for human review and may not have any relevance for a resume search engine. Action words are qualitative statements of your skills. While keywords are nouns, action words are often verbs and adjectives.

Let us look at the example:

Keywords: Java, JavaScript, C#, MS SQL

With action words: Java expert, Proficient in JavaScript, Comfortable with C# and sound database fundamentals

With quantification: Java expert who has written over a million lines of code,Proficient with web 2.0 implementations of JavaScript, Comfortable with C# and sound database fundamentals, implemented normalised tables for medium sized warehouses

While you get your head around the above guidelines, we will come back with more pointers on:

1. Proof reading and reviewing techniques

2. Why is formatting so important

3. What are resume lies and, how they can kill a career

4. Should a resume always be in two pages

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