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How to write a resume that stands out

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

There are about 250 applications on an average per job opening in the US and it could touch 400 in India. So, how do you get your resume to stand out on top of the pile and your application gets noticed?

So here are a few tips to get you closer to the job that you desire.

A lot of my candidates and friends ask me questions like what the best resume format is, should I use infographics, how long should my resume be, how do I get my resume past the recruiter, can I add videos and work samples. Here I try to answer most and more importantly look at how to write a resume that stands out. I can't guarantee that a recruiter will look at your resume but when they do, I can tell you with great assurance that you will at least get that call.

When you get started with writing your resume, remember you are trying to convince a person who is extremely busy, and who has only some understanding of engineering and tech.

How recruiters search and screen:

Recruiters rely heavily on online portals/ATS to source qualified candidates. Recruiters search for profiles by using keywords in these portals. This is very similar to the way one searches for anything in search engines. They use Boolean logic (AND, OR and NOT) to arrive at the right pool of candidates. Having the right set of keywords will help your resume come up in the online searches and sometimes even top the list. However, what you need to keep in mind is that stuffing up your resume with keywords will not lead to the right outcome, which is, landing the job.

Now once your resume comes up in the search, you must do the following for the recruiter to shortlist your profile:

  1. Has to be 2: Try and restrict your resume to 2 pages, the 3rd only if absolutely necessary. You might have 25 years of experience and write a 10-page resume, but no one has the time to read it.

  2. Presentation: Recruiters take less than 10 seconds to view your profile and decide on shortlisting. Remember, you must convince a non-technical person (the recruiter) that you are the best person for the role. Four seconds of those ten are spent on viewing a. job titles, b. company, c. start/end date, d. education and other qualifications. Have the same font and size throughout, have the titles and timelines in bold. Infographics are great but some of the ATS (the software that recruiters use to manage their work) are terrible at parsing such resumes leading to the recruiter entering information manually (and they absolutely don't like this). Call out career breaks, it is ok to do this. Spelling errors are a big let-down, read what you have written once, twice, or thrice, run spell checks before you publish or upload them. Reverse chronological order is how you list your experience, not the other way around. One other issue is listing all employers and then writing a common list of roles and responsibilities.

  3. Objective/Summary: This is your personal space and can be first-person addressed. Write about want you believe, what you want to do, but relevant to the job that you are seeking. This must be concise and clear, not more than 5 – 6 lines.

  4. Performance and Achievements: In a time and age when there is stiff competition for every role out there what always makes you stand out is performance. Organisations also look for fitment, which tells them how well you fit into their environment. Make sure you give details about your team size; contribution to the team in achieving its goal; your achievement in terms of customer satisfaction

  5. Work Samples: There is nothing that beats a showcase actual work. Try and present (as links to files stored in the cloud) as many work samples as possible. Github, Dribble, Behance, Youtube etc, wherever you have it.

  6. Social/Professional Networking: These days, companies invest a lot in social media. Have your social/professional media links in your resume. Professional networking sites like help you get recommendations that can add value to your job search.

Do connect with me and follow my blog for more advice on best practices

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