Sunday, April 19, 2009

Creating Resume to 'Resume' Your Life

Current Job Market and Your Resume

Current job market is not great and accomplishing a job opportunity in area of one’s liking in current time requires a greater amount of energy, preparation and perseverance. In this market, it is imperative for a job seeker to be innovative enough to stand out in the crowd from creating a better resume to posting it to the right places to getting connected to right people to creating a lasting impression during the interview and so on. I’ll try to devote my blog post to how to get an “eye catching resume” and “how to take it fast to the right hands”.

In employment industry, a resumes usually gets 20-30 seconds of initial attention (like an elevator pitch) from a potential employer or recruiter and so it is very important that a resume must make enough impact in these few seconds to get the needed attention.

A resume is a self marketing tool or a personal advertisement and it must show the “value add” to the potential employer. When any employer (no matter how big it is) hires a new person, their company’s net value either goes up or down and so it is very important that a potential employer should able to identify potential “value add” from your resume in a quick time span.

What a resume should have:

Resume should have: Summary/Objective, Accomplishments, Work Experience, Skills and Education (it is advisable to keep the recommendations for the later, unless it is a web based resume 2.0).

As there can be many ways to review a resume, so be multiple ways of writing an eye catching resume. In subsequent sections I’ll try to provide my recommendations about how to build a better resume. Even though we’ve tried hard to provide as good information possible, there can always be multiple alternatives ways to achieve same or better results.


For a job, which requires years of experience.. more and more recruiters are preferring to see the Summary instead of Objective on the resume. Where objective could often be too vague or too specific, summary often goes straight to the point. Summary usually presents what a job seeker has done in the past and may give glimpse what he/she may wish to do next. For fresh graduates it may be better to write an objective rather than a summary. Also for contract jobs summary is often preferred over objectives.

Skills Summary:

Depending on the area, certain jobs are very focused on specialized skills, i.e. an IT programming job, which may require experience of specific programming languages and so skill summary is one of the “eye catching” element for such jobs and hence should come right after the Summary/Objective section.


This section may not be always necessary, but can be really powerful or a big help under certain circumstances. If one has one-two outstanding things in multiple past jobs, which are key for the potential job requirement then clubbing them into one section as “accomplishment” which can be put right after summary/skills section could be really “eye catching”. Also if required skill/experience of potential job opportunity lies in one of your early experience (for example, something what you may have done 5 years ago), then highlighting it in accomplishment section may be one of the best way to put it right on line of sight then using just the chronological ordering.

Work Experience:

Work experience should put together in the chronological order. In case if there is a gap in between jobs, some of it could hide by using only stating year than month and year (for example, a person who lost his job in March 2007, if starts a new job in August 2007 may hide gap on his experiences by stating first experience from 2004-2007 and latest experience from 2007-current).

Also various job experiences don’t need to be defined with the equal weight age. If you’ve held more than one function within a company/job title, you may just emphasize (or may include) only what is important for the potential job opportunity.


Though there is no rule of thumb, it is preferred to have education at the end of the resume for an experience person (putting education in the beginning of the resume sometime gives an impression of a fresh graduate, which can be diluted by indicating number of years of experience clearly in the summary section). In case if education brings absolute credentials for a particular job, i.e. an MIT graduate (Information Technology), who is looking for a programming job should mention his education credentials in the summary/accomplishment section itself.

Let’s build an eye catching resume:

Identifying the Key Words:

So let’s build an eye-catching resume. I’m positive that most of the readers do agree, one resume can’t fit for all the jobs. Once you know your target job, try to identify critically needed skills, education, experience, and any other specific details for this job and try to match whether some of your credentials may support this. Once you identify a few common “key words” from the requirement and your credentials, try to update your resume including summary (make it look like more on target) section, skills summary (try to highlight key skills, which are needed for this potential job) and accomplishments section. While writing work experience in the chronological order, make sure that required “key words” are emphasized at multiple places/work experiences.

How big the resume should be:

Even though it is preferred to have a one pager resume, depending on the jobs and potential work areas resume sizes may vary. Two pages resume is quite accepted for most of the employers for full time positions (unless it is indicated). Some of the consulting/contracting jobs may accept (sometime it is advisable) lengthy resumes (example including information technology consulting), as the potential employer often wishes to see “exact match” of work experiences at multiple places as it is presumed that the contractor would become productive pretty much from the day one for such positions.

Also word of caution, often employers do run resumes to screening software which looks for specific key words/skills and if your resume doesn’t content those words it will never get any attention. So it is important that you do review the requirement in detail and may indicate these key words one way or other (i.e. have used similar tools like).

Action Words:

Resumes should not be written in complete sentences. While defining the credentials & work experiences, one should make sure to use as many “Action Words” as possible. Example of actions words are: Defined, Developed, Pioneered, Accomplished, Analyzed, Presented, Spearheaded etc. For example; “Forecasted yearly budged and presented to the management team”. One must not try to write wordy paragraphs on his resume.

Measurable Achievements:

One should also try to include a few “measurable achievements” in the resume (in accomplishment/summary/work experience sections). Measurable achievements could be % or dollar savings in cost/time/labor for a company/department. Example including: “Achieved 10Million$ in annual savings by atomizing payroll system”.

Resume should have logical flow and carry consistent tenses. Formatting should be simple and one should try to avoid use of italics, shadows, multiple columns etc., especially if you’re planning on providing your resume in the physical (paper) format as well. A large number of employers scans the paper resumes and these scanning software often don’t do a very good job with shadow, italics, multiple column etc. and formatting of the end results gets quite jumbled up.

Cover Letters:

Often you may find situations, where you wish to emphasize a certain things on your resume or about yourself for specific jobs.. But you may not wish to change your entire resume every time. It is always a good idea to have a few cover letters ready (most of the job portals allow you to have multiple cover letters on file), so you may use them during specific instances.

Must avoid mistakes on your resume:

Grammar and Spelling Check:

Grammatical and spelling errors are the number one “must avoid mistakes” on ones resume. One thing is to keep in mind that resume may not be written in the complete sentences, so grammatical error due to this reason is acceptable.

Use of Abbreviations:

Use of abbreviations, slang or detailed technical jargon’s must be avoided as well. Remember that your resume may pass via multiple HRs professional (via HRs of recruitment agency, HRs at the end client/company), and they may not understand much of technical details. One should try to write a resume keeping an outsider in mind (sure, certain abbreviations are well accepted in the market (i.e. for a telecom domain use of CDMA, GSM technological abbreviations are appropriate).

Personal Details:

Please do not including personal information including ethnicity, sex, marital status, picture and certain information about the previous job including reason for leaving the previous job, past salaries, salary expectations, past supervisor’s name etc.

One may stay a bit tactful, but try to be as authentic as possible, especially in today’s digital era. In current times without even your awareness, internet is building your profile at multiple places on day by day basis and you’re much more visible than ever before. I’ll discuss it in detail in resume 2.0 section.

Sample Resumes:

An example of a sample resume for an executive position could be accessed at:

On above resume, after reading first few lines (i.e. the summary section), it becomes quite clear what the candidate has done in the past and a recruiter can make out whether he may be a suitable candidate for a particular position or not. His skills summary follows right after the summary section, which are followed by recent accomplishments, professional experience and education. The resume looks good and clean, flow is quite logical and sell clearly in 20 seconds of a quick glance.

Additional sample of resumes, for specific positions and work areas could be found at:

Where to post your resume:

In the employment community it has been observed that only about 20% of the jobs are advertised using print/major job portals where remaining ~80% of the jobs gets advertised and filled via internal referrals and connections. The world is getting better connected day by day and this number is going to get reduced even further in the near future.

Major Job Portals:

Some of the largest job portals including; (largest in the USA), (second largest in the USA, but bigger than worldwide), yahoo etc. Quite a few portals focus in niches and often they are one of the prominent players for specific jobs, i.e. for certain Information Technology contracting positions and are great resources. You may also get connected with a few local recruitment agencies, who may educate you on the job search process including bullet proofing your resume, preparing you for the interview and also may negotiating on behalf of you.

Job Aggregators:

Job aggregators including, fetches job openings from various job portals and company’s websites and hence are great players for job search. Most of the large job portals requires money for job postings (anywhere from 200$-500$ or more per job), and due to this expensive process employers tends to post their requirements only on a handful of places. Job aggregators really do a great job in bringing positions which may not be advertised well or are posted at very limited places.

Inside Story:

Resumes are expensive:

Recruiters pay money to see your resume. Monthly accounts on, or may cost anywhere from 900$ to 2000$ or more and on average each resume cost ~$2 for a recruiter. At same time it is very important to keep in mind that almost all of the job portals let a recruiter see any number of resume summaries, including availability of a candidate, title of his resume, high level skill summary etc. which doesn’t count against the limited number of resume downloads/views on monthly basis.

Keeping above in mind it is extremely important to fill your details including title of the resume, skills summary, availability etc. very vigilantly beside the resume upload. Our recruiters fetch resumes only if high level resume summary (which doesn’t count against limited resumes fetch) fits in the potential job criteria’s. Please also make title of your resume to close to the target role, i.e. “A 10 years experienced project manager, specializing in risk management and forecasting”.

Keep your resume fresh:

Try to update (or just a blank update, i.e. upload again without any changes on it) your resume frequently on these job portals. As a rule of thumb recruiters pay more attention to the latest resumes as well as some of the job portals tends to show the recently uploaded resumes as top results (default) with underline assumptions that the availability of the people with recent resume/profile updates may be higher.

Lately there has been a slew of web 2.0 websites, which are changing the outlook of resume writing & posting entirely. A few good examples of a few Resume 2.0 sites including;,,, etc. and I’ll share their details in a subsequent blog post.

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