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Preparing yourself for a new job

"Ah! What an interesting Ad from my dream company! Let me send my resume" Click Click and Zoom!

Stop! Do not Shoot Off Your Ready-Made Resume, the One-for-all types, in response to Today’s Ad in CareerAge. If you are serious about appointment, and not disappointment, then you need to work on each application of yours. The problem of ‘Heaping of resumes’ is only aggravated in the current job scenario! The reader of responses will not have time for a proper in-depth scrutiny of all the responses he gets. He is looking for only specific stuff. If he always knows what he is looking for! If he does not get a glimpse of what he wants in first 10 to 15 seconds, he moves on to the next resume. Fair or not. Like it or not.

Resume selection process for selection of a resume, out of a whole lots of them, works in the following chain:

1) A resume that attracts attention & interest -> 2) Leads to scrutiny -> 3) If seems to meet requirements, selected for further action.

How do you attract attention? What can you do to catch the eye of the scrutinizer in the 15 seconds that he has for you? In such a situation how does one succeed? What if actually you were the right person, competent and fit for the advertised job; yet your resume gets rejected due to poor screening by the selector(s)? Relax. This article is supposed to tackle exactly these issues. The purpose here is to give out tips that will fetch you better results. To help you define chances of your own success!

To achieve the first of the above objectives, you have to put in efforts. The resume reviewer needs to be helped and guided to select your resume out of the heap. Tone, flavor and focus add value. Credentials are any way a bottom line. Focus helps the reader to select the right resume. You need to consciously bring forth those specific aspects out of your own years of experience, or of your academic and extracurricular achievements, if you are a fresher, that the advertiser is perhaps looking for in a ‘probably a suitable candidate’ and paste at the top of your resume as a summary in four to six lines. He does not have time to go deeper, nor to read in between lines to find out if you may be the right person for his job. That way he might as well meet most candidates.

Step 1: Get your facts together.
As an applicant you must write the resume giving information about yourself only after you have prepared yourself well. First of all, therefore, it is advisable to keep your existing resume on the side and have a complete re-look at your whole career, afresh. It is useful to gather all information about yourself and jot down the various jobs you have done, the various responsibilities that you held, various achievements that you have achieved. Be it your in your jobs or in college or at school. This is not easy. But have patience. Your future depends on how well you are prepared.

To do the step1, it may be a good idea to sit down with a tape recorder and go back to your first ever job and talk through your career. Talk about learning’s, pitfalls, mistakes, contributions and failures.

Assimilate this information and compartmentalize based on category of experience, skills, period or what ever, even if across jobs. Put it out as a draft. Refine and finalize. Having penned the information, collate those portions of your resume that are relevant to the position being applied for. Estimate the time that you would have spent on such activities and specifically mention.

Put all these details in the cover letter and also in the main resume at the top frame under sub heading: Summary: It is one Para comprising of 4 to 6 lines and is the flavor of the resume. This should remove the need for the ‘Objective’. I have seen most objectives are abstract wish statements of candidates that are generally irrelevant to the reviewer at the initial resume-screening stage barring rare critical positions. The summary is a good forum to mention awards and merits. The credibility needs to be established early on. It will help hold interest for the reader to go on.

Be precise and honest. I have seen many resumes that are well bloated and also flavored. ‘Flavoring of the resume to requirements’ leads to a selection for an interview call. But when it matures in to an interview, the sharp interviewer will eliminate you. If your actual work profile does not suit his requirement he is not going to hire you. Interviewing is a scientific process of information gathering. Many interviewers have mastered the skill of interviewing and a good interviewer will puncture holes in a resume-forte and will be able to see through the bloating however carefully one may have woven. While a resume may sound impressive, result of the interview may turn out to be just other wise. Time and time over again. More number of times you lose, you only add to your own frustration. One is playing a lose-lose game.

By summarizing your experiences carefully, you are helping the reviewer to look at the relevant portion of your work life and if it interests him, he decides to spend more time on you.

Step 2: Present your resume neatly
Formatting your resume is crucial. Format it so that a neat print on A-4 sized sheet can be taken. If you are printing a hard copy yourself, use good quality white bond paper.

There is no need to write ‘Resume’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as the ‘Header’ to your document. Putting your name in bold with font size 16 on top left hand corner should be sufficient. Keep the font size as 12 for the rest of the document. Use Arial or Times New Roman and ‘Auto’ or ‘Black’ color. Give your present address contact details, phone, mobile and e-mail. If permanent address is separate, mention it at the end of your document and not on the top.

While you should make all the headings bold using ‘title case’, the sub-headings should be normal-italic. Add ‘space’ after a coma or a full stop and not before. Leave one space, max two spaces, after full stop. Avoid using exclamation marks (!) or question marks (?). Use Tab(s) after colon (:) and standardize one tab position for the whole document to present information neatly.

There should not be any spelling mistakes. These speak poorly of your candidature. Poor spellings and wrong sentences puts off the readers and gives them a reason to reject.

Do not waste efforts in dividing your resume by shaded ‘heading text-boxes’. While such formats look neat on your computer screens; the print outs may turn out to be horrible or garbled.

After the Name and contact details, mention your qualifications. It is useful to begin with the highest one first and then go backwards. It is important to mention the course, university / institution and the period of study. Percentage CGPA or any other ranking helps. Take an opportunity to highlight merits in class / college/ university, including scholarships, certifications etc if any.

In case if any course is part time or through correspondence, do mention it now rather than being discovered later.

Experience details
Cover the current job responsibilities first and go back wards. Best is to cover points area wise, major ones first. But cover all aspects that you have handled. Mention in brief only. Who knows that may be that’s what the prospective employer is looking for? Be proud. There is no harm in saying, "I have done it", but state facts.

Skills, technologies computer savvyness needs clear mention
IT professionals should maintain one pattern for all projects through out the length of the resume: Mention duration from-to (specify period in months); give project name / Module; Technologies used: OS / Languages / Tools. It is useful to keep a separate section where you self-assess your competence on various technologies, especially the ones that you have used. For mentioning the Team size it is useful to take maximum size. Also do mention the location of the project.

Do not abbreviate or create your own acronyms. Mention key words in accepted standard form only, lest they get missed in electronic search.

I may like to warn here that Virus can kill your candidature. So make sure your machine is well updated on anti-virus definitions. Do mention your role / reporting relationship and add the specific achievement / contribution that you have made to the project / job. Mention about reviews and quality aspects. Customer appreciations about your work are best credentials. Don’t miss mentioning them.

Don’t do cut and paste job – responsibility descriptions across the projects/jobs. Treat each one separately. Even if the job is similar, no two are exactly the same. Some things are different. Break monotony in writing and bring out the difference. Shortcuts by you will only encourage the reader also apply the same when he is reading. In the end, do mention your extra curricula achievements, hobbies, and interests, permanent address etc.

A well-selected resume will increase your success rate. For, once the reviewer has understood your candidature, he is calling you with an expectation to select and not to reject. There is a vacancy that he needs to close quickly. Having seen your honest resume, he knows fairly well what kind of work you may have done in your career. You may have the right experience that he may like to leverage upon. And precisely for that he will be ready to shell out more money, some thing that will only benefit you. He now wants to meet you and evaluate you. Your credentials will be verified. He is going to judge by what you say, how you say, what body language you exhibit, your analytical ability and agility. And most of all, attitude, pleasantness, eagerness, warmth and your fitment in to the organization culture guide his assessment of your capability of handling the job that he has pending, awaiting the filling of the vacancy. He questions himself, ‘Are you the best person to handle the assignment?’

Therefore, please understand that writing a good resume is essential for success. It is an art you can easily master. Seek professional help if you still do not have the skill or the patience with yourself.

Once having had a good detailed resume, self assess yourself against the specified requirements and participate in the recruitment process if you are well convinced that you can handle the advertised job with ease. Keep the Chaff away. Avoid unnecessary repetition. No one is interested in knowing how many students were in your class unless you were a ranker. If you have made his job easier even before joining, he would imagine what you would do if you actually worked for him.

Apply in good time. Do not wait till the last date of application submission. By that date, in a private organization, the recruitment may already be well beyond half way. Remember, the advertiser is keen to close the position the quickest. His business is suffering.

I remember in one interview, I was talking about my role and responsibilities as HR head of my last organization. When I stopped, the interviewer asked me, "What about Recruitment? Have you ever handled recruitment?"

I immediately realized that I missed an obvious thing. "Of course", I recovered and answered back, "I did that almost all the time! Recruitment to an HR person in IT is like food to the human body." I still wonder, how I missed mentioning an obvious thing.

Author
Rakesh Nayar
Placement Avenues
Email:
rakesh1@mantraonline.com