How to make a top notch resume for your next job?
Covid-19 has wrecked havoc on industries across the board, with aviation, travel, retail and hospitality industries being the worst affected. The onset of the New Year 2021 had resulted in some positive developments, with most organizations in India lifting the freeze on hiring. However, the second wave of the virus has again halted all progress made. In these difficult circumstances, it has become crucial, more than ever as a job seeker to polish your resume and maximize your chances of getting hired. A professional resume writing service with a proven track record and market reputation can help you achieve your goals.
A resume is essentially a snapshot of your qualifications, experience and expertise. A good resume hides imperfections and weaknesses in your profile while elevating your strongest assets. In the process, it makes you a more saleable commodity for companies interested in hiring your services. Let’s discuss some pointers that will help you create a top notch resume and land your dream job.
1. Conduct research into the company and position you are applying for. This is the most obvious step involved in creating an effective resume. But is often ignored. In the desperation to land jobs, people end up sending stock emails in bulk to all companies advertising vacancies. However, what job seekers don’t think of is the bigger picture. By conducting thorough research into the company or companies you seek recruitment in, you will become better at assessing your own profile and be able to identify what more is desired to make you a saleable entity. Say you notice during a LinkedIn recce that the recent or older hires of a particular company you are targeting have a list of qualifications and experiences that you don’t possess. While it may be a setback and disappointing in the short run, it will make you more aware of what you need to work on. You can then build the skills that will land you THE job in the future. You can sign up for up skilling courses, pursue a master’s degree, spend more time honing your skills and selling them on a freelance basis to gain experience, etc. A resume writing agency can also assist you in this endeavour by giving you a blunt, third person assessment of your resume. Resume writing agencies like Estorytellers not only provide resume writing services but also help review your existing resume, identify issues, advice critical changes and create a more polished final draft.
A research into company culture on sites like Glassdoor or the company website will also help you decide whether you are the right fit for a particular organization. And consequently help you illustrate how exactly you fit into the company culture in your resume and/or cover letter. Perhaps the company has a strict and inflexible work culture or imperfect work from home policy. Maybe they have a high attrition rate. These are some of the negatives. On the other end, you may discover that the company shares your vision of sustainability and has been known to give chances to fresh graduates and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Try to cast your research net far and wide-search the company’s Linkedin profile for new hire information, recent company policies, accomplishments, awards won, new research undertaken etc; read any recent press, business acquisitions, product launches and so on.
Once you have all the research in hand, you can get crafty. Say the company has been facing issues with increasing sales and lowering costs. And you have had great success in increasing sales in your existing job role- you can highlight that fact at the top of your past job experience. A unique selling point will make you especially attractive to recruiters. Research will also ensure you don’t apply to places that are unsuitable either on account of bad fit or unfair hiring practices. The time saved can then be utilized to polish your resume for more suitable organizations.
2. Never lie on your resume. It is one thing to minimize gaps in your experience by placing special focus on the positives and highlighting them for easy viewing. But making outright inaccurate claims is a recipe for disaster. Remember to look at the big picture. You may not get hired by the company of your choice. But you definitely don’t want to be blacklisted by them. Companies conduct background checks even pre interviews and you do not want to be caught fudging stats and facts.
3. Get crafty when dealing with pesky issues like frequent job jumps or industry changes. While you will certainly be asked to clarify gaps during the job interview, you can use a simple method to not bring attention to the same in your resume document. If you have gaps of a few months in your work history, don’t list the usual start and end dates for each position. Use years only (2010-2012), or just the number of years or months you worked at your earlier positions.
4. Your job experience section should not be a mere reflection of the years worked. Try putting yourself in your hirer’s shoes. And frame your resume in a way that highlights how your previous job role and responsibilities make you a valuable candidate for the current post. Generic and factual listing of responsibilities will get you nowhere. Instead, place the skill sets that your new job also requires at the forefront,t when listing past work. Try to find a match. Highlight your wins, special contributions that were recognized by management, favourable performance reviews etc.
5. Be concise and avoid fluff and information irrelevant to the profile you are applying for. This may include internships, volunteer initiatives, school certificates etc. If you are an experienced job seeker, your school and college performance and responsibilities matter even less. Narrow you focus and enumerate only the necessary facts. An overly complicated or lengthy resume casts an unfavourable impression. It makes you seem unsure and lacking in confidence.
6. Be specific and make use of facts and figures. According to a Forbes article, adding statistics and figures to your content adds legitimacy and credibility. The same principle is equally applicable to resume writing. Data metrics help recruiters and hiring managers have a clearer picture of your contribution in your previous company. The right data can make your experience seem more substantial. Use examples like “I increased sales from $2 million to $5 million in a one-year period”. Or that “during a hiring freeze and budget restrictions, I helped increase productivity by 15%.”
7. Organize your resume for maximum ease of reading. The average recruiter is likely inundated with applications. And will probably only parse through the first few paragraphs. With that in mind, you need to catch their interest at the outset. List your most relevant information at the very top. Make use of white space and bullets. Typos, grammatical mistakes and long winding sentences are a complete no-no. A resume is not a creative writing endeavor. The idea is to structure your professional journey in a snappy, easy to remember format. This is also an area where hiring a professional resume writing service like Write Right would work to your advantage. As professional agencies deal with a variety of industries on a regular basis and are up-to-date on the current job market and industry specific requirements, they will be able to look at your resume with more capable eyes. With their vast knowledge base, they are better equipped to design your resume around formats and requirements that have worked for successful candidates in the same industry in the past. Utilize them.
8. Add an online supplement or sample of work. Say you are a graphic designer- attach actionable examples of work you have done in the past or mention a link to your official portfolio or website in the resume. If you are a writer, attach writing samples and publications, aside from listing them in the body of the resume.
9. Consider the company or job profile you are applying for when using graphics or visuals. If you are a lawyer applying to a staid law firm position, avoid using bright bold graphics and stick to a simple, formal font. If you are an advertising professional, digital marketer or really in any industry where visuals matter, go all out. Show your creativity and humour by making use of graphics and colours.
10. If you have recently registered for any up skilling courses or continuing education, you must state that in your resume. Your participation in continuing your education or upgrading your skill set will show a willingness to learn and grow.
11. If you have any volunteer experience that matches with your company’s CSR efforts or has any connection to your job role, feel free to list it. Try to think of volunteer activities in terms of a story. Try to showcase your volunteer work in a way that complements your regular job. Volunteer experiences are a great opportunity to advertise your soft skills. Say, you led a country wide blood donation drive. This will illustrate that you are enterprising and possess the ability to lead teams to success. If you are applying to a senior position and already tick off the main requirements, your extracurricular activities will act as a feather in your cap.
12. If you are a fresh graduate with exceptional grades, consider illustrating your academic excellence in terms of percentages and one word summaries. Such as Top 5% of the class. Summa Cum Laude and receiver of highest honours in the class of … Dean List for x number of consecutive years etc.
13. When applying to creative industries like advertising, marketing, PR, design, publishing etc, a strong social media presence and engagement will add strength to your CV. Consider including your social media handles and numbers in your resume. A strong social media standing indicates that you are a thought leader that is trusted by others and respected for your insights. It also indicates that you have the skill sets necessary to build said following. Creative industries operate in the nebulous space where public impression or perception of their brand adds more legitimacy and credibility than solid statistics. A person who can promote him/herself well on social media will likely be able to promote the company’s activities equally well too. Before listing your social media though, make sure there is nothing offensive which may later embarrass the company, if hired or get you blacklisted even before the interview stage. Keep things kosher and don’t post anything that offends religious and political sentiments or antagonizes specific groups.
14. If you are a fresh graduate seeking a job, you can add a separate portion to your resume which lists references. These references can be from your university professors or even internship supervisors. At least two strong references with contact numbers for verification will make a strong impact. If you are completely out of luck, ask your batch mate or internship colleague to write a reference highlighting your contribution to a team or special role in a group project. Be crafty but stick to the facts.
15. Verify your employment information to make sure that it matches what you have on LinkedIn, especially if the job was advertised on LinkedIn. Any discrepancies, even if they’re accidental, might raise red flags for a recruiter.
16. Include a Professional Summary at the top of your resume. A brief, one- to three-sentence description that encapsulates who you are, what you do and why you’re a great fit for the job at hand. Pro Tip: Avoid descriptors like “hard-working,” “self-motivated,” etc.-those terms are vague and generic. Focus instead on the skills and accomplishments that set you apart.
17. Include contact information in your header. Cross check this information twice as even a silly mistake like adding an extra letter in your email or one different digit in your phone number would cost you a job. Even for exceptional candidates, recruiters are unlikely to make extra effort on their own dime to find the correct contact information.
18. Save your resume with a simple file name to maintain professionalism and to simply keep better track of it in your files. You can’t go wrong with “Lastname-Resume-Year.”
19. Double check capitalization on company names and titles-consistency in your resume is key.
20. Finally, go through everything once and use a professional tool like Grammarly to cross check that there are no grammatical errors or punctuation issues in your content. Also check to confirm that the content flows smoothly.
Possible Resume Formats
Once you have compiled all the above information into a rough draft, following best practices, you will be ready for the next stage which is organizing your information. There are different resume formats you can use to structure your content. Here we have discussed the three most commonly used formats and which situations they are most applicable for. A professional resume writing agency like Taletel or Write Right can assist you in choosing the best format for your circumstances.
- Reverse Chronological-Reverse chronological is the most traditional resume format and what a job candidate is likely most familiar with. Chronological resumes are flexible and can be used by candidates with any level of experience. This format is most useful if you want to show a vertical career progression and want to apply to a job in a similar field. Don’t use this format if you have significant gaps in your employment history, changing your career path or your history shows frequent job hopping.
- Functional– A functional resume is very similar to a chronological resume with one key difference. A functional resume focuses on skills rather than career progression. Since the format focuses on advertising a candidate’s expertise, it is best suited to a senior person with years of accumulated skills. This is not suitable for an entry level candidate with lack of transferable skills. You can use it if you have gaps in your employment history, changing your career and wish to highlight a unique, highly sought after or in demand skill set.
- Combination– A combination resume combines elements of a reverse chronological and functional resume. This format is best used by people with 10 and above years of experience in the industry. Use the format if you are a master in your subject or wish to change your career path. It is not as suitable if you are an entry level candidate and lack any job experience.
It is easy to let yourself believe that you can create a perfect resume on your own. But if you have had limited success with landing the job of your dreams in the past or limited work experience, you may benefit from the professional outlook of resume writing services. Recruiters work overtime to separate the wheat from the chaff. And even with everything going for you in terms of grades and qualifications, a clunky presentation will get you put in the chaff category. Resume writing agencies like Taletel, Write Right and Estorytellers have years of experience in crafting effective resumes that are tailored to the industry the candidate operates in. Be cognizant that delay in availing help can make it harder for you to land jobs in the future. Companies frown upon long gaps between jobs. And a professional resume writing agency can help format your resume to make up for any such lapses. Use them.