4 Things To Remember While Writing A Resume: Tips By An IIM-A Student

A resume is a tool that helps recruiters select candidates for various positions at organizations. I agree it may not be the best tool, but it serves the purpose efficiently. That’s the primary reason why recruiters ask for your resume as the first check in their selection process. Therefore, in order to get your resume shortlisted, you need to make it easy for the recruiter to shortlist you. How do you do that? Here are 4 things to follow that will help you achieve the shortlists you deserve.

1. Build a good resume that efficiently allows the recruiter to select you

A good resume is one which presents all your achievements and experiences in a neatly categorized format. Unless you have more than 7-8 years of work experience, I would recommend not going beyond a one-page resume. The real estate on one page is more than enough to capture all your highlights. Few other points to note:

– Instead of writing prose, use bullets

– Keep bullets crisp, preferably within one line

– Categorize, Categorize, Categorize: Add your achievements in 3-4 sections, academic, work experience/internships, positions of responsibility, and extracurricular activities. This quickly allows the recruiter to jump into a relevant section and scan out the details.

– Add a timeline: It’s almost always necessary to add the month/year alongside your resume bullets so as to help the recruiter draw out your professional timeline. It also shows consistency in your achievements.

– Mention your contact details in the footer of the resume

– Run your resume through a spell check: many candidates overlook this tiny aspect. A spelling mistake on your resume shows that you are not serious about the position you’re applying to.

2. Remember YOU HAVE CONTROL over how the recruiter perceives you

Let’s step into the shoes of a recruiter for a moment. Imagine his typical day. He goes through tens of CVs in a day and has to make quick judgments on which candidate to select for further rounds. After all, recruitment is only one part of his job description. Naturally, this time constraint does not allow him the liberty to absorb all that is mentioned on your CV. He still follows through and tries to capture your personality through the bullet points YOU have written to assess if you fit the job.

This means you need to create a resume that ACCURATELY captures your skills and achievements. You cannot rely on borrowing phrases from your job description profile to fill out your resume. You need to go the extra mile to collate examples where you demonstrated these different skills. Simply stating that “you were responsible for ensuring x, y, z” does not make you accountable for it. What the recruiter wants to see is what you achieved by ensuring x, y, z. That sets your personality apart from the others who have applied for the same job.

3. Show overlap between your skills and the role’s requirements

It goes without question here that a serious job seeker would apply to sectors and industries he/she has some demonstrated ability in. This demonstrated ability could be your degree, work experience, non-work projects, positions of responsibility, etc. For the recruiter, who doesn’t personally know you, for all the resumes that he/she receives are on an equal footing. It is only when he starts to sieve through the CVs that he classifies certain CVs as good. It’s critical to understand the basis for such a classification. A recruiter is an objective person. He primarily looks at the skills required for the role the organization is recruiting for and tries to find elements that demonstrate those skills in candidates’ resume. It’s that simple a process. Therefore, the takeaway for you should be two-fold:

Firstly, you can not only work backwards to building a CV that fits the role you seek but also highlight your current achievements in a way that emphasizes the overlap between your skills and the role’s requirements. And secondly, always learn about the role first. Unless you are aware of what the recruiter is trying to find in your CV, how will you highlight those skills! Talk to the HR, attend pre-placement talks, talk to seniors who are current employees or alums who had worked with the firm earlier.

4. Highlight the IMPACT of what you did rather than DESCRIBE what you did 

When it comes to a good resume, it is immensely important that you highlight the IMPACT of what you did rather than DESCRIBE what you did. There’s a critical difference between the two. Impact puts you in the driver’s seat. It takes the dull bullet point in your CV and gives it a much-needed makeover from your vantage point. It shows the recruiter that you achieved something ACTIVELY. On the other hand, a description puts the limelight on external circumstances. It portrays the bullet point as a PASSIVE statement that something-happened-somewhere. Why should the recruiter care about your project description? Ultimately, they are looking for YOUR SKILLS which are only revealed once you don the IMPACT-ORIENTED hat.

I would close this article with an example. Consider these 2 statements:

Candidate A: Created mobile-compatible interactive dashboards using Qliksense mashups.

Candidate B: Secured 2 new clients to generate 2 lac worth of business by creating interactive Qliksense mashups.

If you were the recruiter, which candidate would you select? Would it be candidate A who has simply described his work or would it be candidate B who took the time out to identify the impact that his work brought to the organization?

Akshita Agarwal

Akshita Agarwal is an MBA candidate at IIM Ahmedabad, Class of 2017-19.