So you are a smart, intelligent, talented person with great credentials and qualifications, and you are a star performer at your firm but when it comes to the cutthroat job market, you just don’t get the calls. You have a resume and you forward it to several people but clearly no one seems to be interested in you and you don’t seem to understand why. You see people with lesser credentials scoring job offers left, right, and center. If you read like a perfect candidate on paper, why wouldn’t people call you?
I have seen it from all three perspectives: the one who never got the calls, the one who started getting too many calls and the one who sat on the other end of the table hiring for one of the big four consulting firms in the world. A resume is your identity, it is the only thing that a complete stranger will take into account before they save it into a folder or delete it. It is who you are; the world is a superficial place and you need to learn to sell yourself accordingly! Companies with great products spend billions on marketing it. Are they idiots? That piece of paper stands for everything you are and everything you are capable of and to a stranger, you are only as good as you seem on it. So what are you doing wrong?
1. Your file name.
This is the first impression; the file can be deleted even before the double click if the name is “Sample Resume”, “Best Resume”, “Professional Template” and whatnot. It should to be your full name in CAPITAL LETTERS with spacing in between. My resume name is not “Vineeta”, “VineetaT” or “Vineeta_Tyagi”. It is “VINEETA TYAGI.” If it is one of 20 in someone’s folder, I’m sure it will be the first one to be opened.
2. Your template.
It is always easy to use the same cliché template that is available online or that everyone in your college is using. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Subconsciously, the person who looks at 50 resumes that look exactly the same, builds an opinion that you are just part of the herd and the kind of kid who copy-pastes assignments like the rest of the mediocre kids in the class. If you could not even make an effort for your own career, then why should someone else?
3. Time is money.
Do you really think a resume that you spent 20 minutes on will land you a job? Are you that naive? Is the person who plans to pay you salary every month that stupid or are you so cool that you can create a masterpiece in 20 minutes?
I took two days to create the perfect resume the last time I looked for a job switch. You have spent a lot of money and time on your school tuition, to prepare for exams, on assignments, tests and extracurricular activities. You have put in late nights in your current job. Do you think that spending time on the only thing that is a reflection of who you are is a waste?
The difference between hard workers who slog to make peanuts, and smart workers who make the big bucks and also have a life, is that they know exactly where to invest their time in. Making a resume is the best investment of time and energy! Spend two days writing the perfect original piece of work and you will save hours of bitching and cribbing about your terrible job.
Take time to think about everything that makes you better than anyone else, this is your advertisement, so sell yourself. Only if you take your time will you understand that there might be things that you have done in life that are not already there and you have filled a lot a crap that is irrelevant.
4. Size matters.
Be crisp, precise, and to the point. A one-page resume is the best you can go for if you are less than 25 years old. Make a tiny table for your educational details, a few bullet points for accomplishments and extracurricular in the end and just one little paragraph for each job to describe job experience to date. Don’t just give a brief description, but try to express the most in the least amount of words.
Over time, keep on kicking out the stuff that has become irrelevant now so that they do not clutter and mask your bigger achievements.
5. Cliche content.
No one has hours to read everything you’ve accomplished, no one cares if you participated in a painting competition or a dance competition once and no one wants those cliche tag lines in the beginning that every person uses. I am a highly motivated, hard working, blah blah! No one will read three paragraphs on your projects that you have worked on in your current job. A reader’s attention span is limited; throw too much cliche and they will throw your resume in the bin.
A few notes:
A) Never copy something that is in a friend’s resume, you are not the same people! Write your own thing, English is not calculus!
B) Always use strong language where you can say the most with the least words possible. Avoid too much jargon, even if you think it makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.
C) But never use jibber jabber than only people in your firm can understand while describing your work. Describe your work like the earth revolves around your job role and write it in a way an HR can understand, because they will read it before an expert from your field does.
D) No one wants to know your father’s name, mother’s name, address, birthday and nationality at this point, especially if you are not applying for a job overseas. Please refrain from adding unnecessary personal information.
6. Helpful friends.
Sure you can ask your friends to give you pointers but never ever ask someone else to write a resume for you! No one knows you like you do and no one can sell you better. You will just end up with a bunch of words on a paper that are someone else’s reflection of you on their identity!
7. You’re on a professional roller coaster.
When writing your resume or editing your LinkedIn profile, professionalism in your language and the simplicity with which you describe your job is of utmost importance. Especially simplicity, dial things down so that anyone can understand what your job is, but like I said, write about your job role in a manner that the earth would stop revolving around the sun if you miss a day of work.
8. Your resume isn’t organized.
Do not use crazy large fonts. HRs are not blind and too much scrolling is irritating. The most important details like you education, your GPA, job experience and key skills should be easy to spot. Put everything in a font size that is just right. Create your own template instead of using the cliché ones available online and organize everything so that the most important things are easy to spot!
9. Remember the phrase “dress like the job you want, not the job you have”?
Yes this applies to your CV, not just your body! I see people using the same resumes for their first job and then later for a job switch five years after college, with just minor edits. Come on, dude! Every cell in your body has changed in the last five years, you are literally and physically not the same person then why are you using the same resume? Too lazy? Well best of luck for another crappy job then.
Also there are people who find their passions and plan to move into finance or sales and guess what, they send out their same CV that has C, C++ and Java as the most highlighted key professional skills. No wonder every Tom, Dick and Harry who simply wants a change of field, opts for an MBA. Are you so lazy to create job role specific resumes that you will waste two years, invest heavily on tuition, live on pocket money again and pause your career growth to get a job that you can get right now only if you know exactly how to find one and how to apply for it?
10. Don’t look like an idiot.
Do not just stuff words in there to make it longer or to sound impressive. Don’t put in things like you are creative, logical, a good programmer, good at managing time or deadlines and what a positive ray of sunshine you are. You say these things in an interview when someone asks you the ‘strength and weakness’ question to kill time while they come up with really challenging questions. That is the point where you stall the interviewer with all of that. (By the way, if you do get asked this question, here’s a quick tip: Do not start reciting a list. Interviewer training 101 states that there is no right answer to this question, only a right approach. If a person backs their strengths with past inferences and examples, then they are taken more seriously than someone who is just reciting a cliché list like ‘My weakness is that I work too hard!’ Come on, the person on the other side of the table has seen many like you. Once as an interviewer, I laughed at a kid’s face when he gave me that answer.)
So take a look at your CVs and LinkedIn profiles and throw away whatever you have. Start jotting down everything about yourself that makes you special; create a skeleton and start writing and editing like your life depends on it!