Write way to sell yourself

To create a good impression as a first step to securing the coveted job, make sure your resume is simple, lucid and packed with relevant information, suggests.

Devashish Chakravarty        Print Edition: August 2010

There are moments when you feel nothing is moving at work, except time. Your bank balance and job profile seem to have stagnated and you don't enjoy work as much as you used to. You need to shake things up. But how? Perhaps, it's time for a new job. Digging into your 'My Documents' folder, you fish out your old resume and upload it on a job search portal, hoping that it will bring the change you crave for.

Sorry to burst the bubble, but chances are, it will not. It's because a resume must be regularly updated for a positive result. Here's how. The first step is determining what to include in the resume. Your personal information is a must, but limit it to essential contact details. Eschew photos unless you are applying for the job of a model or an actor.

Write down all the skills that showcase your capabilities and highlight those that are required for the job. Finally, list your achievements, specifying the challenge, action and result (CAR) for each. Once you have collated all the information, categorise it as experience, education and other interests. While listing your experience, do not skip the stints that you were not paid for.

The description of each work profile must include details of your position, employer, location and duration of work. It is easier to map your career path if you ask yourself relevant questions: How did I accomplish my role? Why did I choose this method? What were the results of my choice? The answers will help you emphasise your responsibilities better and define your accomplishments with numbers and specific skills. The smart candidate makes life easy for recruitment consultants by incorporating job-specific keywords.

Speak to industry professionals for words and phrases related to your domain. A manager in a reputed recruitment consulting firm confides that she employs targeted keyword searches to lead her to the best resumes for her clients, who often shortlist these candidates for interviews.

So don't ignore the power of the right words. In the education section, make a table with the following details: name of institutions, degrees/ certificates, specialisation, performance, honours/awards and scholarships. Unless you are a fresher, or were in an institution with an outstanding pedigree, this section should come below your work experience.

Last in the pecking order is the additional information section, which may include positions held in professional/student associations, participation in sports, extracurricular activities, special skills, interests, etc. Knowing what to leave out in a resume is as important as learning what to include. For one, your CV should not highlight your weaknesses, be it poor academic scores or unflattering performance at work. Also, it is not advisable to include details of your income and reasons for leaving previous jobs, unless there have been far too many job hops.

The most impressive education and work experience can get lost in clumsy presentation. So, spend a lot of time on how your resume looks. You can organise the information in a chronological/reverse chronological or functional format. Both have their advantages. The widely used reverse chronological format helps employers understand a candidate's growth along a timeline.

On the other hand, the functional format aims at targeting specific and relevant skills that a recruiter is looking for. Use a business font, such as Arial, in 12 point size, and bulleted points with sufficient white spaces to avoid clutter.

The last page of a multi-page resume should be at least two-thirds full. Unless specified otherwise, use a PDF file format for attachments and text (ASCII) format in online text boxes. Avoid fancy designs and special effects; simplicity and professionalism are the cornerstones of an effective resume. Did I say that spelling and grammatical mistakes are a strict no-no?

Of the time you spend on revamping your resume, the better part must be allocated to framing your past in an impressive manner. The trick is to add a unique perspective to your experience. This, as opposed to an unconventional presentation, actually makes a CV different from others. Finally, don't forget that a resume is a sales pitch for your capabilities.

By itself, it is not adequate to get you a job. At best, it will get you shortlisted for the interview. So write the resume to achieve this goal. It is the next step, interview, that will convince recruiters to offer you a job. However, mastering this stage is another story.

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