Writing a better resume – Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

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As they say, first impression is last impression, your resume writing would have to be the last place to ignore this wisdom. The person responsible for screening will be well versed with the team’s requirement. Thus, just a glance over the pile of resumes would be enough for him to shortlist appealing candidates. Better you present your resume, the more chances for you to get through with it. Versed with all the required skills, you would not want to left out just because you did not present it well.

You sure are working very hard at your job, just work a little more and make your resume impressive. Here I am sharing few thoughts about writing an effective resume.

  1. Keep it short, simple, but not stupid. Once, I came across a 7 page resume for a profile of mere 2 years experience. It’s not 5th grade essay competition, so don’t write one. As an interviewer, I would not waste my time reading your resume. If it takes more time to read, I’ll just ignore it. It will only gonna harm you in many ways. First, you made a bad impression. Second, you may have important and noticeable things in your resume, which just went in vain. Having said that, if by chance you are shortlisted, you have already lost one chance to get the interview started on your terms, which you could have achieved if you would have highlighted your strong points in the resume.
  2. First things first. Now that you intend to hear a call back, don’t make them hunt for your contact details. Put your contact number and email on top, first things on your resume. Avoid giving multiple numbers. but if you have to, do it in order of availability. It’s also a good idea to put time of availability on every contact number specially if some of them are not all the time with you, like your home number or the office number.
  3. Objective and Summary – To many people, this section looks redundant and worthless. Either many skip this or write some traditional garbage here, like “I strive for a challenging work and competitive environment”. However, this is an important part of your resume, specially when you gain more seniority. For senior positions, interviewer will rather spend his more attention here. Write what you really mean. Write some specific goals, may be something that could justify why you are looking for a job change.
  4. Don’t blah – Just for the sake of filling in pages, don’t write anything irrelevant in the resume. In fact, if you go by 1st point, you will be pretty much sorted here. Still, you need to double check what goes on your resume. Don’t write things what you can’t explain or prove in interview hall. Like, you are hard working, you better be, but how will you explain it to them? Will you be mentioning about several night outs that you did for a product release? Don’t. Because I won’t believe what you can’t prove. Strike off things which you don’t know or have not worked since long (unless they are still afresh in your mind). Don’t lie on the resume. This will be really bad, as by lying you have given the interview a few more points to knock you off, which he might not even have thought of in first place.
  5. Put your relevant work on top (or skills, if you are a fresher) and not in chronological order. Not just because this is what interviewer is looking for, but you must also be comfortable explaining work you think is more important. By this logic, there may be instances where a very old project work would go up in the order. But if it is relevant and important, you might want to point out about the staleness of the project while the interviewer gets in to details, though you should still be able to explain high level descriptions. If not, keep this off. However, you may also keep it chronological and highlight the important things. One more important thing to note here is, that few people forget to mention total experience anywhere on the resume, don’t leave the calculation for the interviewer.
  6. Experience before Education – Now that you have gained some industry experience, to many, it doesn’t make any difference if you did your graduation from a premier top ranked institute or from a below par school. In industry, you have had the same exposure. So going forward, it’s just your own work, that will be defining your capability and potential. That’s why your experience should go above your education. It’s also true because to an interviewer, what did you learn at work is more important than what did you learn in school.
  7. Don’t make it project description, let it be project summary. I mean, you actually don’t need to write full project specification in this segment, even a 2 line summary is too much. I would instead suggest to put relevant links, frameworks and tools used, duration, team size and your role in it. You will anyway be asked to explain any relevant project in-person. No one is ever gonna read anything off the resume which requires more than 10 seconds.
  8. Achievements: Think. Think again. Then write. I have seen people putting their SAT, GMAT or GRE scores as their achievements. These are not even relevant, unless you are appearing for the job of a trainer for these exams. Besides, no one’s bothered about you winning a treasure hunt in your school. Your programming certificate is an achievement, but you last coded 5 years ago. This is not really gonna help, so may be you would want to remove that to save some space.
  9. Personal details: Only keep your relevant personal information. For many, your age, gender, passport number, marital status or even your guardian’s name and contact are not necessary. You can skip these kind of data or put that in more relevant manner. Like, your nationality might not matter to them, but your work authorization does.
  10. Formatting: This is a really small but effective thing. Few may ignore this, but for me, this is an important aspect. This shows discipline and meticulousness. And believe me, many jobs do require these. So make sure you are consistent with your formatting. Choose the fonts wisely and use same fonts throughout. Keep font size same. If you are ending your bullet points with a dot “.” or using capitals for section titles, do it everywhere. Correctly capitalize your headers, avoid colors, even using grey. Don’t draw or put anything fancy unless you are to appear for a creative profile.
  11. Last but not the least, don’t forget to proofread. Don’t just rely on auto correct, because it will not stop you to use ‘loose’ instead of ‘lose’. However, it is very unlikely that you would ever use either of these words in your resume.

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