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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Drafting Resume - is it art or science?

For graduates, preparing resume is one of the most important aspect that can spell the difference between getting a good job and an average job. Let us see the cases of Ram and Anik.
Ram is graduating as a E&TC engineer from a metro town. His college, though not the best of lot, has a professor who was teaching in IIT, Mumbai. Because of his excellent credential, he got a very good assignment for a group of students from an excellent institute which does work in Astronomy. The project turned out to be so successful, that Ram's group has done follow-up work even after finishing final exam. Ram, appearing in one of the better MNC's in Bangalore, had prepared his resume. He had written about this project in 'three lines' in his resume of 2 pages.
Anik, on the other hand, has been a star student of a good college from Bangalore doing Biotechnonology. He was a GS of a college annual festival, represented his college in various forums, won debating prizes and represented his college in a famous Quiz competition. He had written an exhaustive resume of 4 pages.

Who do you think will get the job - Ram or Anik? I know it will surprise you. But both Ram and Anik cannot get the job they want, because they have not followed the three golden rules (at the minimum) of writing a good resume.

Rule 1: Write resume for a targeted audience. Graduates generally write 'everything' in the resume, without knowing the 'profile' of 'audience'. Imagine, you going to a automobile showroom, and given an exhaustive car brochure of 10 pages!Will you be able to interested in reading the brochure explaining features like 'how much torque is created by the engine'?

This is what Anik did in his resume. He wrote everything in his resume. The 'reader' is interested in 'specific items' that he can comprehend. Morever, graduates do not realise that their resume has two distinct audience : One is a representative of HR department who will shortlist the resume based on very generic criteria, and second is the functional specialist, who looks for very focused items in a resume.

Rule 2: Write resume like a brochure. Remember, your resume is a 'brochure'. A brochure is a short pithy document about a product to attract the 'audience' so that he/she is interested in knowing more about the product. Advertising professionals are masters in writing the most important aspect of product in a 1-page brochure!

Ram and Anik have committed the same error in writing their resume. While Ram downplayed and wrote very little about his important 'project work', Anik overplayed his wide variety of credentials and wrote everything. For Ram, it is important to learn the art of writing 'long' about his project without losing the interest, while Anil has to learn the art of writing 'short' without loosing the essential aspects of his background.

Rule 3: Resume is just one 'link' in the chain of your selection: To get selected in a job or assignment, an 'interview' is equally important after the resume is sent.

If you are buying a printer, after you read the 'brochure' of printer, you will like to verify the specified qualities of the brochure in the 'demo' of printer. It is same with your 'resume'. Your resume is your brochure, while your interview is the 'demo'. Interview is like a 'demonstration' of your stated qualities whose features have been written in your resume. ( i.e.brochure)

What could Ram have done to use this idea? Ram has done an excellent project in the final year. He could have written 'as much details as practical' about his project work in his resume to make the 'interviewer' ask him questions in the interview. If Ram does not write 'enough' in the resume, interviewer will not ask him any questions due to which Ram's work and qualities will remain hidden from the interviewer. Will Ram get the job he wants after the interview?

Ram therefore has to learn the art of writing about his project in a language that will invoke curiosity in the interviewer's mind and will 'compel' him to ask questions, which in turn will enable Ram to showcase his qualities.

How do you write your resume?

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