What makes you stand apart when you are looking for a job? Your talents and skills yes. But how do you make those stand out? That’s the bigger question. In an office, your resume / CV is one among the pile, like a brown horse among a horde of brown ones. Even if it’s DNA is different, no one would know! And that’s why I am writing this blogpost – to share my two cents on how to write a good resume and CV. I hope you find it of much use. Dig in!
But before we begin, let me clarify something. You are probably wondering why I have written Resume & CV separately because all your life you perceived them to be same. There is a small difference. A resume and a CV differ in length. Resumes are generally very short & summarized (one or two pages) whereas CVs are more detailed. In other words, CVs give you lot of scope for story telling but resumes do not. But many many people do NOT KNOW this subtle difference. The general format of a resume also differs from that of a CV. For convenience, I have used them interchangeably below & I have also uploaded a sample of a resume with its format at the end of the post.
‘How to write a Good resume’ & make it sharp, effective & a comprehensive, is one question that has troubled / provoked intense thinking among a large chunk of today’s working & studying population. This essentially includes students, college pass outs & working professionals, just to broadly categorize.
When you go to Google, a simple search and a barrage of results might make you believe that it is rocket science. But don’t. You won’t need to leave for outer space to learn how to write a resume or make a CV that’s killer. The management jargons, Greek-like language & the complications – are not needed.
Don’t worry, you are not supposed to act like a gladiator or as if it were an Armageddon. It is just a lot of smart work with a little bit of hard work. Not to mention, if you actually understand the genesis of making a resume, you could be the resume expert within your known circles. As I mentioned, I have uploaded a sample resume for you to download, so that you can get your hands dirty and learn better.
So let’s demystify the entire process of how to make a good resume step by step:
Although there are sample layouts at the end of this post, you may use google to find out similar formats which appeal to your interest. The same food that we have at our homes looks much better in a restaurant because of the fancy decoration. The mind says ‘Yes!’ much before the taste buds do their work.
Lesson – Garnish your resume / CV well. (In other words – the format of the resume / CV should be well structured and uncluttered).
But remember, fashion changes every 6 months. Comfort stays forever. Pick a template or a layout for your CV / Resume that is –
– Not flashy
– Looks professional
– Has only black and white colors (Unless of course you are designing a design portfolio which is a different game altogether)
PERSONAL DETAILS/CAREER GOAL/CAREER OBJECTIVE
Be very crisp, smart and try to occupy minimum space on the page where your personal details go. In terms of positioning it -you could do it either at the top or at the bottom. The current trend is to mention it right at the top as it provides easy visibility.
When writing your career goal/career objective please DO NOT copy paste a fancy quote from the internet. Your farce will be caught in a jiffy. It is called career objective and not career subjective- for a good reason 🙂 … Besides, when you are writing SOPs, CV, Resume – be aware of the fact that the person who is going to read it doesn’t have all the time in the world for your life story. He / She will be saving it for the interview.
Spend some time and come up with something that best describes your views. It will be easier for you to explain/defend your position because then you would know exactly why those words are on your CV.
(Please note that Career goals / objectives go into the CV, not the resume.)
Here I recommend you to definitely read ‘How to write a good SOP (Statement of Purpose)
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CAREER EXPERIENCE/HISTORY
Anything and everything that you consider to be your achievement must find a mention here, provided you are absolutely crystal clear as to why that particular thing is an achievement. Achievements need not be only examples of public glory or display- they could simply also be something; which gave you tremendous satisfaction personally.
For instance some people write that coming 2nd in a competition is an achievement. Why? there are many people who would have come first as well! You can say that there were 2, 00,000 participants out of whom you attained a position. So the messages are clear; if you know the “Why” and how to “Defend” – Go ahead and include the same as your achievement.
Here again it is advisable that you consult a senior before you proceed with the final draft. While the format of resume for the freshers and work-ex people remains the same, the matter inside differs immensely. Your maximum interview might revolve around your achievements & work history (for work ex junta). So, it becomes important that you put a very careful thought about ‘what to include’ & ‘what to leave’.
For detailed reading on the above, please read – How To Crack Every Interview You Sit For
Career history/experience must be to the point too. Do the following with these:
- Mention clearly the time frames that you were associated with various jobs/companies in the past.
- Clearly outline you job role and your responsibilities along with company name and designation details.
- Avoid writing at length. I would suggest that you should write in points keeping in mind all the above parameters. Modern format is ‘Recent to the Oldest’ in chronology of writing.
Here again be very precise. Clearly state the name of the degree, college, year /batch along with your CGPA or percentage, whichever is applicable. Avoid use of unnecessary big tables, smart bullet points. When drafted well; it should do the trick for you.
If there are some other worthy qualification that you posses, then you must enlist the same under a separate heading “Other Qualifications”, to make sure that they get due attention. The mantra still remains the same, be short -be crisp.
HOBBIES AND INTERESTS
Only one golden rule applies here. If you are 100% sure that you can answer all questions when quizzed about something that you call it as your hobby then go ahead and write that under “HOBBIES” else it is always a safe bet to bracket them as interest areas so that you allow yourself an escape route as well. Try & ‘Be Specific’ , when writing hobbies. Reading ‘Fiction books of a particular genre’ is better than just stating ‘Reading’ ; as a hobby. Think — WHY??
And for your own sake, please don’t say ‘sleeping’ is your hobby! No one will hire you for being in love with your bed.
Be very careful about the kind of words and language that you use in your resume. Just like the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the way you behave; the words and the language you use are an extension of your own personality and you would not want to play with it at any cost or leave an impression which is just not you. So use them preciously and judiciously. Informality in language could jeopardize your entire thing.
Additional tips for making a CV :
- Take more space.
- Elaborate your Career objectives, experiences, roles etc. But, do not ramble on. Even in a CV, you need to be concise.
- Very cunning strategy:- Definitely include keywords as ‘Managed’ , ‘Led’, ‘Organized’ etc. Search engines of job portals at times use such words to shortlist CVs / Resumes. (Top Job portals in India)
Generally academicians with published papers and journals and professionals with many years of work experience use a CV. Resume is mainly used by job / admission seekers at the beginning of their careers as the document is not very exhaustive at that point in time. However, there could always be exceptions to these rule 🙂
We have discussed a lot of Dos for resume and CV. Now, let’s do some Don’ts:
- Do not use fancy fonts. Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial Black etc are perfectly fine fonts to use. NEVER USE COMIC SANS on your CV / Resume. Fonts & typography talk a lot about the candidate’s creative abilities. Make sure yours gives a good report.
- Don’t make grammatical mistakes in your resume / CV. That could prove to be extremely costly. Get it checked by 5 people if you need to. But avoid this mistake. Here’s a an exhaustive list of posts on English
- Use short sentences. It is not a literary contest to be won.
- Avoid writing “I did..”, “I was…”, “My grades…”. It is your resume / CV hence it is implied. This will not only save you space but also make you sound sharper, more professional & coherent.
- If you are mentioning references, make sure those referees are aware that they might get contacted by the company you are submitting your resume / CV to.
- If you have a very stupid / fancy email address, please create a new one. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com are just NOT COOL and hard to type as well.
As promised, here’s the sample format of a resume: Sample Resume
And now go & happily & cunningly write the best Resume / CV ever. You may not get through your dream institute / organization but that should be because you lack talent not because you made a bad resume. That’s just being lazy.
You can refer to blogposts on career and training that I have written over the years for more tips and advice on careers. Whatever little I have learned as a Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer, is all yours to devour! 🙂