Writing your resume is an essential
aspect of applying for a job, as it requires a lot of effort and
planning on your behalf. A badly worded and poorly presented resume
can put off a potential employer totally!
We intend to provide some broad guidelines to
help you write a resume that could work for you. Work for you
to achieve what it is meant to i.e. to get you an interview call
for a job.
At the outset, it is necessary to clarify that
you could use the term "resume" or "curriculum
vitae" (CV), even though technically a CV is primarily meant
for job positions within the academic environment and is supposed
to be a lengthy document. The difference is not strictly followed
and it is safe to use these two terms interchangeably, but remember
that whatever word you use, be sure that you know how to pronounce
Your resume should be about two pages
A resume should be about two pages long. It is supposed to be
a brief presentation of your skills, work experience, achievements
and education. Anything too long runs the risk of being skimmed
over and not read properly. Long and detailed does not necessarily
imply better! What your resume has to get across to the potential
employer is just this - you have the required skills, experience
and education to handle the job! This can be done by appropriately
focusing on the key aspects unique to your experience, and leaving
out the standard repetitive details, which would be similar to
those of your competitors applying for the same job/position.
So, try and stick to 2 pages!
Start off by identifying your job objective
The job objective is an excellent area to include in your resume
and is usually omitted. It puts your resume in the right perspective
for the reader and clearly shows where you are headed in your
career plans. If you are applying for an entry level position
in marketing, your job objective could be something like:
Objective: Interested in an entry level position
in marketing in a multi-national corporation.
The 'multi-national corporation' phrase makes
your objective generic regarding company choice. It would be advisable
to modify each resume to suit specific companies that you apply
to. Then the job objective would read like this:
Objective: Interested in an entry level position
Provide a summary of your experience
The next section that your resume should contain is a 5-6 point
summary of your skills and experience. That includes:
* No. of years of past and relevant work experience
* a brief description of the work done
* specific skills acquired
* significant achievements
* educational qualifications.
This section is very useful, in providing a
snapshot view of what your resume contains for situations where
yours is one resume in a pile of fifty others. It allows minimal
information loss in case the resume is quickly skimmed over and
not given a detailed reading. In this section, the skills that
you present should help in answering the question -"How can
you contribute to the organization?"
In case of IT/Software professionals, the skill
set could be added to the summary. But be sure, that all the skills
mentioned are truly areas you have worked in or are comfortable
Use language and content that communicates
a proactive style
The style of writing that you use and the particular words or
phrases can make a significant difference to your resume. It affects
the impression created about you regarding your past work experience
and your skills. For example, you might say in your past work
experience that you "maintained records and accounts".
A better way of expressing the same thing could be "Reported
directly to the VP-Finance and managed over 1500 accounts...".
Your language and content should focus on what you achieved e.g.
saving so many lakh rupees for the organization, rather than a
standard listing of responsibilities which sounds like a job profile
common to anyone in a similar position to yours. If you have been
a brand manager in the past, do not just list your job responsibilities
like" responsible for sales, profits, advertising related
to the brand...". Instead highlight things like " Implemented
change in product formulation that saved Rs 50 lakhs per year
for the brand...". Quantifiable parameters have a better
impact than just saying " Implemented change in product formulation".
Prioritise details of your
past work experience
After the summary section, you can go on to providing details
of your past work experience. Leave aside the job objective and
summary and that gives you just one and a half pages to cover
the details of your work experience as well as your educational
qualifications. You need to prioritise. Decide what weightage
to give to different organisations/positions. You should not skip
any place worked at, but you obviously cannot give all details
of each position. A few points to note while preparing this section:
You could present the work experience
in reverse chronological order
Start with the most recent work experience at the beginning of
this section and the rest later on. That is the organisation where
you are currently working first and the earlier ones worked in,
later in the resume. This should highlight your relevant work
experience at the outset.
Within an organisation, present
your career path in the correct chronological order
While you may present the organisations you have worked in, in
reverse chronological order, for a particular organisation it
is easier to follow your career path if the positions are given
in the way they happened e.g. " joined ABC co. as management
trainee in 1989 and was promoted to assistant manager (finance)
in 1991.....". You could then go on to elaborate your responsibilities
and achievements at this position. Remember to highlight the more
important designations with their accomplishments, as this will
be more relevant than just focusing on your training period.
Mention responsibilities briefly,
focus more on accomplishments
If responsibilities are similar across positions in an organisation,
try to avoid repeating the same set of responsibilities with each
position. That will unnecessarily increase the size of your resume
without giving any additional value. Instead, try and include
your different achievements at each position, or something that
you introduced or did differently in your job. This would also
hold true for situations where responsibilities are similar across
organisations. Avoid tautology and stick to the accomplishments.
If worked in many organisations,
merge information to reduce chronological details
To avoid presenting a long, chronological detail of each organisation
worked in, try and merge information on similar positions/responsibilities
across organisations into one category. This will be easier to
read and will also avoid presenting a negative image of you being
If changing your area of specialisation,
classify the information by function
If you are changing your field from finance to marketing, then
instead of just presenting the details of your past work experience
in reverse chronological order by organisation, you could classify
the information into different functional areas e.g. your responsibilities
and achievements in finance (even if across companies); similarly
for marketing. You should try and incorporate some marketing experience
(and hopefully you will have some) if you intend to get into that
Include other information only if significant
You may like to mention your hobbies, interests or extra-curricular
activities, under a separate heading, but it will really not add
value to your resume unless you have made a significant achievement
there. For example, mentioning mountaineering as a hobby is not
relevant unless you have achieved something like taken a trip
to Mount Everest or Kanchenjunga!
Such achievements which are not directly related
to your work experience can be put under the heading "Other
Present educational qualifications with
the most recent one first
When giving information on your educational qualifications in
a separate section, it is advisable to begin by presenting the
most recent degree/diploma achieved, as this is usually relevant
to the work you are currently doing. For example, if you have
acquired a post-graduate degree in management, give that information
at the outset.
There is no need to go as far back as schooling,
unless you are a fresh graduate with no work experience. Remember,
the resume is just 2 pages and you need to give better reasons
for being recruited than the school you studied in!
If you have acquired a degree in some other
country, mention a degree that it is equivalent to which is internationally
recognised, to put it in the right perspective for the reader.
Avoid tables while presenting details of educational
qualifications because they occupy more space and interfere with
the smooth flow of sentences and points.
Provide information on training if it is at
least 3 months or more. Short term one week courses do not really
look good on your resume unless you do not have enough to say
in 2 pages!
Even if you are not a software/IT professional,
today computer literacy is assumed for most positions. So don't
list competencies in MS-Word and such like but do include any
significant packages you may have learnt, helped develop or are
in the process of learning.
For a candidate applying for an entry level
position in an organisation, the educational qualifications will
be more important as there is no significant work experience other
than training. This section could therefore, come before work
experience, in your resume.
References should be provided on request
Though it is useful to have names and contact numbers of people
to give as references, it makes sense to provide them only on
request. You should not give the details on your resume but provide
the information later on, when asked for, or further on in the
The reason for this is that at the outset you
do not know how long your resume will be with a company before
you get an interview call. By then the persons you mentioned as
references may have moved or their contact numbers could have
Also you can tailor your list of references
based on the company you are applying to. So there is no need
to provide the same information to all the places you send your
It is also a good idea to inform your references
that you have given their names before they receive a call out
of the blue. This way when the employers who have included you
in the short-list for recruitment, contact your references to
check you out, there are no hitches or surprises.
Try and follow these guidelines and you will
be surprised at the improvements you can make to your resume!
Remember the resume format is flexible depending
on the specifics of your background and experience.
Click here to see two sample resumes incorporating
the guidelines given in this article.