2006-10-30

On Resume

Last weekend, I reviewed some resumes of ISB students. I recalled of the harrowing times I went through doing my resume. I also recalled of my two cents to students during orientation - Start working on resume on day 1. I was sure people did not understand its seriousness then. Most students now understand why resume is the most important yet most difficult piece of work.

That said, resume writing is not very difficult if one goes in a structured fashion. (one might say that, having gotten a job, I can choose to say what I want).

Every industry and firm need a certain set of skills. If the students understand this well, then half of the work is done. As long as "what is required" is ill understood, then writing a resume is a tough job.

Assume what is required is understood, then one should figure out if one clears minimum eligibility criteria. There is no point pursuing a job / firm, if one does not remotely match up to what is required.

Now that the 30000 feet perspective is clear, one should move to the nitty-gritty.

There are 3 /4 sections/areas of a resume.

1. Education
2. Experience
3. Achievements
4. Personal
(3/4 can be bracketed under Additional Information)

A very few people are good at all. Many, if not most, are good at one of these.

The first mistake people make is to try to show that they are good in all areas.

Second (and perhpas last), to look good in all areas, invent some hobby or achievement to fill the page

Believe me, there is no need to invent some hobby or interest to fill the page. White space looks better than some rubbish on resume.

Once people figure out which they are good at, they should take all care to make that section/ area the best part of resume. It is easy to do it with education because, it is many times as simple as putting a grade on the resume. It is easy to mess this up, if you fail to provide a proper context.

With experience, one needs to work a lot because there is no common framework to measure the experience of people from very many backgrounds. Every bullet point on the experience section should have an achievement orientation to it. Just writing about what you did does not make any sense. I am in particular disagreement with the usage of word responsibility. Responsibility means that you have been given something and you did not have a choice but to take it. Alternate but powerful words (no readymade ones available with me) should be used. Be as specific as possible - about what you did / what you contributed / what it resulted in (as has been repeted ad nauseam - situation / complication / resolution format).

Additonal Information section should contain, apart from your specific achievements, something that interests you a lot - you are passionate about it. You have done it not because there was an opportunity to do so. You would do it / pursue it even when it gets tough to pursue. Say, reading books. Have you read any books during your ISB days. If yes, then that is some interest / passion. Have you done some volunteer work even when you were at ISB. Then you have good reason to put volunteer work on your resume. Even if you have not done anything at ISB, you could still write about your interest, if you intend to pursue it when you graduate from ISB. Whether you are passionate about it or not can be easily guaged by asking a few simple questions. I don't think that this is the least important section of the resume. People can get shortlist based on the data on this section too.

Do not highlight something you have done 7 or 10 years ago. A lot changes in 7-10 years. Getting a certificate is not an achievement as much as winning kho-kho chamionship is 10th standard. Any thing recent is a much better data point.

Pls DO NOT write anything that you cannot substantiate or is not true.

Also DO NOT fall in love with yourself and your resume. Share it with at least 5-10 people to get serious feedback. And pls do take the feedback to make changes in the resume. I say this because I see people rationalizing what they have written on resume.

Last, why is a resume so important? Realize that all your preparation is a futile exercise if you dont get shortlist. You get shortlist only because of your resume. And, of course, the cover letter.


PS: about cover letter, perhaps, sometime later.

No comments:

2006-10-30

On Resume

Last weekend, I reviewed some resumes of ISB students. I recalled of the harrowing times I went through doing my resume. I also recalled of my two cents to students during orientation - Start working on resume on day 1. I was sure people did not understand its seriousness then. Most students now understand why resume is the most important yet most difficult piece of work.

That said, resume writing is not very difficult if one goes in a structured fashion. (one might say that, having gotten a job, I can choose to say what I want).

Every industry and firm need a certain set of skills. If the students understand this well, then half of the work is done. As long as "what is required" is ill understood, then writing a resume is a tough job.

Assume what is required is understood, then one should figure out if one clears minimum eligibility criteria. There is no point pursuing a job / firm, if one does not remotely match up to what is required.

Now that the 30000 feet perspective is clear, one should move to the nitty-gritty.

There are 3 /4 sections/areas of a resume.

1. Education
2. Experience
3. Achievements
4. Personal
(3/4 can be bracketed under Additional Information)

A very few people are good at all. Many, if not most, are good at one of these.

The first mistake people make is to try to show that they are good in all areas.

Second (and perhpas last), to look good in all areas, invent some hobby or achievement to fill the page

Believe me, there is no need to invent some hobby or interest to fill the page. White space looks better than some rubbish on resume.

Once people figure out which they are good at, they should take all care to make that section/ area the best part of resume. It is easy to do it with education because, it is many times as simple as putting a grade on the resume. It is easy to mess this up, if you fail to provide a proper context.

With experience, one needs to work a lot because there is no common framework to measure the experience of people from very many backgrounds. Every bullet point on the experience section should have an achievement orientation to it. Just writing about what you did does not make any sense. I am in particular disagreement with the usage of word responsibility. Responsibility means that you have been given something and you did not have a choice but to take it. Alternate but powerful words (no readymade ones available with me) should be used. Be as specific as possible - about what you did / what you contributed / what it resulted in (as has been repeted ad nauseam - situation / complication / resolution format).

Additonal Information section should contain, apart from your specific achievements, something that interests you a lot - you are passionate about it. You have done it not because there was an opportunity to do so. You would do it / pursue it even when it gets tough to pursue. Say, reading books. Have you read any books during your ISB days. If yes, then that is some interest / passion. Have you done some volunteer work even when you were at ISB. Then you have good reason to put volunteer work on your resume. Even if you have not done anything at ISB, you could still write about your interest, if you intend to pursue it when you graduate from ISB. Whether you are passionate about it or not can be easily guaged by asking a few simple questions. I don't think that this is the least important section of the resume. People can get shortlist based on the data on this section too.

Do not highlight something you have done 7 or 10 years ago. A lot changes in 7-10 years. Getting a certificate is not an achievement as much as winning kho-kho chamionship is 10th standard. Any thing recent is a much better data point.

Pls DO NOT write anything that you cannot substantiate or is not true.

Also DO NOT fall in love with yourself and your resume. Share it with at least 5-10 people to get serious feedback. And pls do take the feedback to make changes in the resume. I say this because I see people rationalizing what they have written on resume.

Last, why is a resume so important? Realize that all your preparation is a futile exercise if you dont get shortlist. You get shortlist only because of your resume. And, of course, the cover letter.


PS: about cover letter, perhaps, sometime later.

No comments: