What is a good resume?

The role of a lecturer is multifaceted as compared to what one thinks when pursuing masters to get qualified to be a teacher. During one such day at my institute I was assigned the work to shortlist resumes for the interview round for the post of an Asst. Professor. The senior teachers and the head of the department gave me some ten pointers for selecting the desired resumes. As I sat down to read over 100 resumes, I realized what it was to be on the other side.

When I was finished I had segregated some 25 resumes. It took me less than 1 minute to go through each resume. I discovered some common mistakes that candidates usually make. Therefore I decided to cover in detail the nitty-gritties of an eye catching resume.

According to Investopedia, “a resume is a formal document that is created by a job applicant to itemize his or her qualifications for a position. Most often a resume is accompanied with a cover letter where the applicant expresses an interest in a specific organization or a job and draws attention to the skills which are most relevant to the job applied”.

When I was pursuing B.Tech I prepared my first resume for a small internship program. When I compared it with some of my classmates’, I realized there were so many ways of making a resume. It is said that a good face is a reference letter and when some of my batch mates put a picture on their resumes our seniors advised us against it. We were told that a resume of an engineer is supposed to be plain without any fancy borders and our projects and coding skills should do the talking.

Over the years I continue to update my resume for the lack of any one standard definition of a good resume. However, there are some basics that need to be addressed and are as follows:

  • Update Contact information

After the resume shortlisting, I was asked to make the relevant calls to the candidate and inform them via email for details of the next round. It was annoying when some of the emails bounced back owing to the wrong entry or when I heard the typical, “the number you have called does not exist” dial tone.

It is thus important to recheck and update the current contact information before applying to avoid missing out on a great opportunity.

  • Educational Qualification

This section is assumed to be the easiest to put in a resume. The trick is to make it as concise and to the point. If you are applying as a fresher then it is advisable to list your percentages or CGPA. It is very important to write the year of passing to make the information relevant.

During my college, some students opted to mention their marks in every semester. A 4 year course has 8 semesters and elaborate mark details are suitable only when they are asked, otherwise they appear of no use to the recruiter.

  • Work Experience

For recruiters who are looking for experienced employees, this is the section they directly come to. This is not to say that one should detail out everything that one has done in their career. Always stay relevant and list the work that relates to the current job profile you have applied for.

Follow a proper chronology; start with the current job and its descriptions preferably in pointers not more than 5. As you graduate to previous work descriptions, keep reducing the pointers to 2.

During my M.Tech I applied for internships for the android app developer position. I listed the two mini android projects that I had developed in the coursework. I further mentioned about the other projects I had submitted in B.Tech, highlighting my openness to learn other technologies as well.

  • Skillset

Some recruiters demand a clarity with the skills of a candidate. For engineering job profiles the hard core skills include one’s expertise with coding or knowledge of a specific development environment. Be precise and specific.

Soft skills for engineering positions do not need a separate mention. It is best to highlight traits like leadership, team-ship, flexibility and creativity through extracurricular involvements.

  • Hobbies and interests

This is mostly the last section in the resume. Many recruiters go through this section to get to know the candidate. If you have some fine hobbies like reading, singing, gardening or photography then make sure you mention them. Avoid lying just for the sake of creating an impression.

I once went for a walk in interview and we were asked to submit our resumes to the person in charge. The guy looked at me and exclaimed, “Just one page, is it?” I am still not very sure about the number of pages but I can add it is always a good practice to make changes as per the role demands. Once you align your resume with the expectations of the employer it is easier to get through to the next level.

Another interesting feature that I learnt while applying for jobs online was the use of ATS (Application Tracking System). This software selects resumes based on certain keywords which are commonly fed by the recruiter.

As the technology upgrades it is a good approach to get your resumes built using standard resume builders available on the internet.

Some of them that I came across were following:

  • Linkedin
  • CVMaker
  • Resume.com
  • Kickresume
  • Cakeresume

As one progresses on the professional ladder one realizes a resume is just a piece of paper which initially validates employee’s professional skills. In the end what gets us through is our clarity of facts and the practical knowledge. Thus be informed and updated with the job market and ensure a robust first impression by putting an impressive resume on the table.

Good Luck!

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