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Constructing A Good Resume

Identifying the right structure is the most essential while drafting a resume. Here are few points should be carefully deliberated before moving on to the other elements

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Management professionals often underestimate the importance and effort involved in making a good resume
Most people find it hard to believe that potential recruiters screen candidates by glancing at their re-sumes for not more than 45 seconds (Yes! It is in seconds and not minutes!) In a massively competitive environment with limited attention spans while evaluating resumes, it becomes extremely important to develop a good resume that is simple, stands out and communicates key differentiating achievements effectively.

In a nutshell, making your resume involves deliberations along key dimensions like identifying the right structure, building on the right format, using impactful content and preparing for what is outside the resume. This article explores some of these themes.  

Identifying the right structure is the most essential while drafting a  resume. Following points should be carefully deliberated before moving  on to the other elements.

•    A good resume is always restricted to one page. In case you believe you have done so many things in life that it cannot be compressed in a single page, you should carefully consider that the resumes of Steve Jobs, Roger Federer and Barrack Obama are drafted in a single page.
•    The various sections should be arranged in descending order of strength.
•    A resume should not have more than 3-4 sections. For an aspiring management professional, these sections can be academics, work experience, academic & industry projects, extra-curricular activities. In case of more senior professionals, it is also advisable to add an ‘Executive Summary’ section at the top that talks of the 4-5 key points in the resume which might be of interest to the recruiter.
Using the right format is critical while drafting the resume. Although some of these points are consi-dered basic, missing out on these can render a resume unreadable. Following are some key points that should be considered while defining the format for making a resume.
•    A good starting point is to pick a standard template for making a resume. Most word processing softwares (MS Word, Notes) have inbuilt templates. In addition, some of these templates are available online too.
•    It is advisable to use a font size of at least 11. You should appreciate that your reviewer might not have the vision of Spiderman.
•    Most common fonts used to make resumes are Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial.
•    The text is typed in black colour. Avoid loud shades of pink while drafting a resume.
•    All points should be left aligned with a margin of 0.5 inches on all four sides.
•    It is best to avoid white spaces while framing sentences, most points should occupy more than half a line.
•    Finally, running the spellcheck is a must. The last thing you need is a resume with spelling mis-takes
Content is king and rightly so. The core of any resume is the content in it. Following are some key points that should be considered while designing content.
•    The first line of each section should highlight the impact of that section. It is advisable to high-light benefits in the aggregate form. For instance, ‘led a team of x people’, ‘generated y sav-ings’, ‘won x competitions’ and ‘secured x national ranks’.
•    Each subsequent line should highlight a set of words to drive across a point. In case you are in-terviewing for a job with specific skills, mention those words explicitly and highlight them. For aspiring b-school students, they might like to highlight points around ‘analytics’, ‘client facing’, ‘certifications’, ‘club leadership’, etc.
•    The ordering of points in a section should be in a decreasing order of impact. Most recruiters end up reading (at best) only the first two lines in any section.
•    While sending out a resume, some recruiters or business schools ask for references. It is important to attach these. Needless to say, they have to be appropriately informed in advance.
The trickiest part in making a resume is often what comes after it. A good resume often leads to an interview. At the interview, it is important that the candidate is fully prepared on every line mentioned in his resume. An ideal way is to have rehearsed content for a couple of minutes on each line mentioned in the resume. In case of academic projects or work experience, the candidate can speak about his / her role followed by what he or she did and the impact they had.
One of the most common interview questions is, “Tell me something about yourself that is not in the resume?” It is advisable to keep a couple of points (e.g. interesting travel experiences, hobbies, special interests) not mentioned in the resume as potential talking points.

In conclusion, making a resume is part art and part science. Like most things in life, making it for the first time can seem tedious and boring. In addition to following the principles mentioned above, it is always advisable to show your draft resume to seniors, parents, college counsellors or someone at work for their qualified opinion. Finally, a good resume serves the role of a good book cover. It should be remembered that in this case, ‘all that glitters is actually gold!’

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Sandeep Das

The author, Sandeep Das, is an MBA from IIM Bangalore, a management consultant, the author of “Yours Sarcastically” and a columnist.

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