In our previous post, Writing the Perfect Resume – I, we talked of finding out the company objectives, the 3Cs – Competence, Commitment, Cultural Fit – and mapping your strengths and achievements to meet these objectives. This helps you project the right image that creates positive First Impressions.
When mapping the two, you need to keep in mind that you have set out to achieve two objectives – gain the call for interview and set the tone for the interview itself.
Now, for each of the 3Cs that you need to project, it is how you tell the story that makes or breaks the resume.
Your Story (What you Tell)
Understand the position, level in hierarchy and culture of the department, the company and of the industry. Map your contributions with the competencies that the company is looking for. Speak clearly without adjectives about your academic background, your achievements within this, the projects you had undertaken, as well as grades if they are commendable.
Speak of your industry experience, the independent and group projects handled, to give an idea of your competencies that helped support or drive the project. Speak of projects where you led the team, if valid. Also, refer to your ability to work successfully within teams. These aspects are necessary to convey the broad message of competence, commitment and the culture that you are comfortable working in.
The important thing is to tell the above story in a way that meets the company’s objectives. Hence, customize your resume where needed. Are they looking for a strong technical expert or someone with strong people skills? The same project that you had handled can be told to highlight your technical competency or your people skills, or both. Talk to current employees and read about the company. For each company you have worked with, every designation held and every academic institution attended, the executive wants to see 3 things:
- What you have contributed – What goes into the resume must be relevant to the job you have applied for. Mention your contributions, projects undertaken and the extra-curricular activities in school or college. Remember, as much as you want them to consider how you achieved a project objective, it is far more important to tell them what you had achieved. Eg. “Achieved 100% target all through”.
- Complexity under which you contributed – Describe the constraints and the complexity involved in the project or in your contribution. Eg. “Achieved 100% target or Raised sales by 10% despite the downturn during which client company cut purchases by 20% and in the presence of leading competitors.” By elaborating it in this form, you are highlighting your competence effectively with a clear picture. This can be applied to elaborating on your commitment and also your ability to relate to people and derive results from them. In short, the achievement must convey your strengths that led to this achievement.
- How you contributed – This aspect is for the interview stage. The above two details not only tell the interviewer your potential, but also help focus interview questions on how you made it happen. By and large, the above two points set the stage for the interview where the interviewer would want to know the details of how you went about achieving the objective. If you have prepared your resume with some thought to mapping it with the company objectives, you have already set the course for at least the first half of the interview and that is more than half the job done.
Key Highlights (How You Tell)
Interviewers would be checking dozens of resumes at a time. When it comes to HR professionals who are the first ones to screen resumes, they would be going through resumes by the hundreds any given week. So, make it easy for them to get the gist of your resume and form powerful and positive First Impressions.
Make the sub-titles speak for themselves so that the executive glancing rapidly through it does not miss them. Avoid monotonous sub-titles. Make your resume speak the industry language with no spelling or grammar mistakes. It is easier for them to relate to industry jargon and choose you over others.
Fonts, Flow & Layout (How You Show)
Resumes are a projection of your image. Would you in real life put on snazzy ties or big, shiny buckled belts to an interview? You wouldn’t, not even in the most business causal of professions. Apply the same rules to the resume. Keep them standard and where you add your personal touch, it should be to convey a point, not just to make it stand out. Don’t make it different, just to be different. There has to be an objective to the difference.
Don’t use fancy fonts and boxes. The resume must be clear and precise. Follow the industry pattern in design. Don’t use bold fonts too often. Start with the latest in academic qualifications and job profiles. Start with the biggest contribution within each profile.
Let them see what they expect so that when you do the expected, it stands out and catches their eye.
Each of the elements we have discussed in this post is important to a greater or lesser degree. The central point is to map your strengths to the interviewing company’s objectives and prepare your resume accordingly. You will then create positive impressions, by projecting the right image and more importantly, set the course for the interview.