Have you wondered why after all the efforts to excel in your studies, you have not been able to land your dream job? With the competition in the job market getting tougher with time, it is important that you figure out what can be improved from your end to climb up the professional ladder.
Ananthu Vasudev, an entrepreneur and recruitment expert who is a Resume Writing Voice on LinkedIn, debunks myths about resume writing and explains why it is important to stop considering a resume as a piece of paper but look at it as a way to market yourself to grab the job.
Why should students/job seekers work on their resume?
All of us will be putting in a lot of effort, time, energy, etc for studies for over 17 years in our lives; just for one thing – a great job. We might learn a lot, gain so much experience, develop various skills, and achieve much more than a degree certificate during all these years.
Once we complete our studies, a resume is the primary tool used to apply for (and get) a job. Whatever you have gained and achieved through all these years should be conveyed to the recruiter through a resume. However, if you compare the effort given to growing as a professional and the effort given to convey how good a professional you are, there will be a huge gap. I would say 99% vs 1%. The point is, nobody can imagine or guess how good a professional you are other than you introduce yourself in the best possible way.
A resume isn’t just a document where you dump your certificates, qualifications, etc. It acts like a brochure for you; it is your marketing tool. When 90% of resumes received by recruiters are unprofessional and amateur, a well-crafted resume that clearly explains how the candidate is different from others, you’re half done.
Change the mindset. Create a resume in such a way that it is a document to market yourself. Consider you are pitching yourself. While drafting the content, follow the priority:
- A recruiter is looking for a candidate who is the perfect match for the vacant role. Not the best-ever candidate from the list.
- How the particular candidate is unique from others, what makes him/her stand out from other candidates.
- Finally, the skills, experiences, qualifications, etc.
Take an example of a brochure of a car, it says how this car is different from other cars in a particular segment by other companies. How it is unique and why should someone buy it – this will be the focus. Consider the same technique. Do not try to prepare a resume similar to your friend or colleague. Then you will become a candidate just like them.
If you are not a creative professional, do not use a creative resume. Use a traditional resume instead. If your creativity helps you get a job, make it creative. If not, then it is a mistake. While people use creative or modern resumes, their focus will be on the designs and the colours. What matters the most is the content and the words you write. The colours and designs never help you get a job. Focus on content, not on designs. Traditional resumes are globally accepted, are ATS friendly and ensure professionalism.
Keep in mind that you are writing this to impress and convince someone else and not you. So, it should be easily readable, and understandable for others. Use of the abbreviations, fonts and font sizes, length, everything matters. Proofread multiple times and ask someone else to proofread it for you as we might not be able to find errors in the content written by ourselves.
How often should our resume be updated?
The biggest mistake everyone makes is creating a resume once and using the same for all the roles, for ages.
If you want the best result, make sure you update your resume each time you apply for a role. It means tailoring a resume. As mentioned earlier, a recruiter looks for the perfectly matching candidate for the vacant roles, which means, in brief, comparing the job description and the resume.
Highlight the skills, expertise, qualifications, etc they are looking for. Even if a different company is hiring for the same role, the required skills, expertise etc may be different. So, in order to be the top candidate, you must update your resume before applying for each role.
Apart from tailoring a resume, make sure to update the resume once you have something new in your career – it can be an achievement, a new skill, a new course, a new certification, a new work experience, etc.
How long should anyone maintain their resume?
I personally do not like single-page resumes. Whenever I receive a single-page resume, either the candidate has nothing much to convey in their profile which ends up in a blank resume, or they might have used small fonts and filled the page with a lot of text which makes it difficult to read and I easily get distracted which ends up in missing some content.
For a fresher, usually, a single-page resume will be enough. However, there will be some exceptionally good candidates who might have some quality internships, additional courses, volunteering experiences, etc. In such cases, it can go beyond one page rather than rushing everything on a single page.
In case 25% or less of a page is consumed, it is always good to try to avoid that page and limit the content on the previous page.
For someone with 2 or 3 experiences, a 2-page resume should be enough. Beyond that, up to 3 pages can be used. Usually, we don’t suggest more than three pages, and if you have more content, it is a suggestion that you need to cut down some content.
As an HR, what strikes the eye about a good resume and a mediocre resume?
If a resume is originally created – that too, manually – you got my attention. There are two cases, one will have some casual dummy templates.
For instance, career objectives begin with “Looking forward to working with a company…” or “Seeking a challenging opportunity to utilize my skills..” etc. In two seconds, this resume will be considered a causal paper.
The second one will be ChatGPT-created ones. All the content will be exaggerated and will be over-hyped. Use templates, but customize them. Use ChatGPT, but convert them into believable.
If your content is:
- You have promoted yourself and made yourself unique
- Tailored your resume according to the job description with a proper cover letter
- Has a good look, feel and readability
- Does not contain any unwanted information
- Has no basic errors and mistakes, then your resume will be in the top list.
Sometimes if the profile doesn’t match, still we might consider if the resume is an excellent one as it shows their commitment.
An originally and professionally created resume will be shortlisted easily as the 90% of resumes (and the overall applications) we get for every role will be really unprofessional.