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Tips on writing a Resume
Article » Finance
Posted by : thedesk   Aug 31 2005
Tips for preparing technical and managerial resumes
a. Introduction
b. Objective
c. Summary
d. Experience and Skills
e. Qualifications
f. Personal details/Contact details
g. Salary details
h. References
i. Ideal Resume Format
j. Technical Resumes

When you are on the lookout for a change in your career, the first thing you do is writing a resume. This document would be your first interface with the company of your choice. Gone are the days, when you would get your resume typed by a local typist, get two dozen copies made and then mail them across to different companies. This is the day and age of virtual representation, i.e. the Internet. What would work well in a physical document may not look that good on the computer. As most applications are expected to be made over the net, the format of your resume is very important.

Then why is it that we spend the least time in working on our resume? Even if we do spend time, we end up cluttering it with unnecessary information and what we want to convey gets lost in the bargain.

To be able to compose a perfect resume, you need to understand what goes into the recruitment process.

Usually a junior executive first screens most resumes before passing it on to the hiring manager. All recruiters review the resume in a two-step process. The first step involves scanning the resume for key skills that are significant to the job. If, this initial check fails to show anything of value, the resume is discarded.

The second step involves analyzing the resume further to make sure it matches well with the given position in every possible manner. An important thing to bear in mind is that a junior recruiter may review 50-100 such resumes in a day.

Hence as a job seeker, you have to ensure the maximum possible visibility with the minimum possible words. You don’t want to make the recruiter’s job difficult by presenting a sloppy or badly written resume. Most likely, such resumes would be discarded without a second thought.

So how do you ensure that your resume is easy to read and presents the relevant facts?

Firstly, it is important to understand what a resume would contain. There are a few details that are commonly required in a resume (not all are mandatory):
1. Objective
2. Summary
3. Experience and Skills
4. Qualifications
5. Personal details/Contact details
6. Salary details
7. References

These are also usually the factors on the basis of which a resume could be eliminated. Other factors of elimination could include:
1. Frequent job changes
2. Poorly organized structure of the resume
3. An objective that is irrelevant to the position applied for.
4. Too much information.

Let us look at each of these factors in detail:
An objective states the purpose or intent of the person in applying for a particular position. Therefore it has to match with the job objectives. Stick to simple statements and avoid the use of flowery words as below:
"It is my proclivity to conquer all the dark-veiled mysteries of Information Technology and to achieve the highest pinnacle of perfection in the Organizational goal and to attend the culminating point in the enhancement of my creative potentiality."

These kinds of statements would only put off the reviewer rather than create a favorable impression. Vague and meaningless objectives would defeat the purpose. An objective should state what you could contribute and the value that you would add to the organization. Make it as concise as possible. In case you do not include the objective in your resume, you could state it in your cover letter.
In technical resumes, you could skip the objective and give a good summary instead.

As the word suggests, this is the gist of your resume. Keep it short and simple, stating the highlights of your careers and your capabilities in a maximum of four to five sentences. Identify key accomplishments that would grab the attention of the recruiter and include it in your summary. Make sure you do a research on what the employer is looking for and what qualities you could put forth to match their expectations, before you write the summary. For technical resumes see section below

Experience and Skills:
Every position would require you to have enough experience in the related areas. Summarize your experience for quick reviewing. This is probably one of the first things that a recruiter looks for.
Highlight only those points that are relevant to the position.
Let us take the example of a person who worked as a Business Development Executive in the year 1997. Later he completed an MBA in Finance in the year 2001 and is now working as a Credit Analyst. In this scenario, if the position he applies for, is related to Credit Analysis/Financial Research, the business development experience would be irrelevant.

List your experiences in reverse chronological order. For example if you have started working in the year 1998 and changed 2 jobs since, then list the latest job first and the position held in the year 1998 will appear last.

State your roles and responsibilities briefly yet clearly.

Do not break up your stint in a particular company into multiple parts.
- 1999-2000 XYZ Co. – Trainee
- 2000-2001 XYZ Co. – Associate
- 2001-2002 XYZ Co. – Sr. Associate

Mention your complete stint in the company and the current position in the beginning and elaborate your growth process in a couple of lines later.

Highlight only those skills that you consider significant to the position applied. If this is a core technical position, make sure that the assignments using the desired skill-sets are elaborated on (see section on technical resumes). If it is a managerial/leadership role, stress on those skills.

Frequent Job Changes
In case you have changed jobs frequently, one way to minimize the impact is to list together similar positions held, under one heading.
For example:
1997-2002 – Project Manager (for mission critical projects)
You could then start by stating, “As a highly successful Project Manager, was recruited to 3 positions in 5 years…”

Another method is to use a structure that emphasizes the achievements or recent functions and grouping together related positions held, including the dates, but not emphasizing them.

Except in the case of freshers, try and leave out elaborating on college/academic projects. A single line mention, if essential, would do. Leave out mention of extra curricular activities, unless this is a position that requires you to use those skills in your job.

Qualifications could be separated as Professional and Educational.
When we talk about qualifications, it has to be put forth in such a way that it is readily visible and the primary details such as the degree/diploma, institute name, year of passing and the results obtained are included.
The degrees should be listed with the latest featured first. Secondary/higher secondary achievements are not necessary in most cases. The essential part is the latest degree achieved and probably the one before it.
Professional certifications must be mentioned separately from the academic qualifications. In case you have done several diplomas/courses, mention only those that would help in the position you are applying to.
You may make a mention of trainings attended, but only those that are significant to the job. Please resist the temptation to include a mention of talent contests or debates won in school/college. This is assuming that the position does not call for such skills.

Personal Details/ Contact Details:
Personal Details include your name, date of birth, passport details (if asked for), followed by your contact details. Avoid giving family details or links to personal websites. Mentioning hobbies and interests is not required in a highly technical resume. Unless specified otherwise, do not include your picture in the resume. Adding pictures would increase the size of the document.

Contact Details:
It has been noticed that a lot of resumes would contain a contact number without proper location code and no mention of the city, which the candidate resides in. Some would contain no contact information except and email address. There are chances of such resumes getting rejected for being incomplete. Although it may not be needed to include your entire address in this Internet age, you definitely need to mention the city/state you reside in and the telephone code for that location. Another detail that is essential is a proper email address.

In case you are applying for a position that is not in the same city as you are, you could mention in your cover letter that you would consider relocating.

Salary Details (not mandatory):
It is essential to put forth your salary details, so that the company can decide at the onset whether there is a compatibility with their own payment policies. It would be advisable to break up the salary into fixed and variable components to give a clear picture.
It is generally not mandatory to include your expected salary, but definitely would help in the initial review. Make an enquiry of prevalent salary bands for the applied position before you put in the expected figure. If you are not sure of the amount this position would offer, it is best to leave it out.

References should be of people who have worked with you as your seniors, preferably from the most recent company. For a person with a few years of experience, the reference of his/her college principle/teacher will not be of help. The referenced person must be informed in advance of his/her contact information being given out so that when called, they are clued in to the situation.

The reference details should contain:
a. Name
b. Company Name
c. Designation
d. Working relationship with the applicant (whether his/her manager/team lead)
e. Contact numbers

Ideally two references should suffice.
In case you are not sure of the references at the time of application, just put in "References available on request" or skip the section altogether. This will allow you time to arrange for good references till the time of the interview.

Ideal Format:
The format of the resume must be simple and linear.
- Name and contact numbers
- Objective/Summary (good to have)
- Work Experience
- Professional/ Educational Qualifications
- Salary Details (optional)
- Personal details
- References (optional)

Contact details should be mentioned clearly at the top or in the header of every page.
Avoid using jazzy fonts, page borders and too many tables in the resume. This will only make it look cluttered. The font size should be large enough to be read clearly but not too large. Highlight the different sections of the resume in bold.
It is safe to stick to a simple font for your resume, as the word processors in an organization may not support the different formats you use and your resume would be rendered unreadable.

Length of a resume:
An ideal resume would be one or two pages long. However in the case of technical positions, the length may increase a couple of pages more to include the project descriptions.

Cover Letter:
The cover letter should be brief and to the point. Avoid using fancy words and concentrate on giving a brief about your profile and how it would match the position you are applying for.

Technical Resumes:
A technical resume would differ from other resumes due to the inclusion of technical projects. Such a resume would vary in length depending on the number of projects you include in it and the length of the description of each project. It is advisable to be as brief as possible while describing technical projects. Here are few pointers that would help in building a good technical resume. Sometimes it is acceptable to include an annexure detailing all projects.

Format of a Technical Resume:
Name and Contact Details: Put in your name, telephone number, email ID, and current location.

Summary: The summary should convey your suitability in the technical front. It should also include the years of experience you possess and the roles your have performed.
- A Senior Software Consultant with over 6 years of IT experience.
- Worked on client-server and web centric applications related to financial services domain Banking (Payment Solutions), Insurance & Capital Markets.
- Proficient in Java, C/C++, Unix, Perl & Systems programming in Unix
- Good understanding of databases.
*These are fictitious samples created based on a review of several professional resumes.

Technical Skills: This is where you would list the technologies you have worked in. Be careful not to include the technologies that you have never used. This gives an impression of a person who is not focused in his/her work.
Operating Systems: Unix (SUN, AIX), Windows
Databases: Oracle, Sybase
*These are fictitious samples created based on a review of several professional resumes.

Experience: The experience should be summarized in a few lines and then the relevant projects should be elaborated on. Mention the names of the companies worked for and the duration in each company, in reverse chronological order. Follow this up with a detailed description of the projects worked on.
For IT projects, make sure that you mention the duration and size of the project and most of all, your role in it. Highlight the technology used overall and the ones specifically used by you.
Elaborate your work done in the technologies required for the job.
The ideal structure for describing IT projects would be:
a. Project Name
b. Company/Client Name
c. Duration
d. Technologies used
e. Brief description of the project
f. Your role in detail, preferably explaining the modules you have worked on if it is a large project.

In case you have joined into the project after it began, mention at what point you have joined in and your contribution since then.

Educational Qualifications: Start with the latest degree. Include the institute name, specializations, year of passing and percentage obtained.
- M. S. (Software Systems), BITS, Pilani Rajsthan, 2000. CGPA: 4/5
- Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics) 1998, Mumbai University, 72%
*These are fictitious samples created based on a review of several professional resumes.

Certifications/Training Attended: Write a very brief account of any certifications received or training attended for skills that are essential to the position you are applying for. List the dates of the training, company/institute attended at and the duration. In case of a large training include a brief of the contents.

Personal Details: Here put in your date of birth, passport details (if asked for) and address.

References: Include two references of people with their contact and job details. Refer section on References above.

With inputs from: