This article is written by Nidhin Kumar (Class of 2019)
A resume is a critical document when applying for a job or a professional degree. Being your first impression for any reviewer, a resume holds significant value in the process of applicant screening. Keep in mind the fact that a reviewer at most spends anywhere between a minute and ninety seconds on one resume. This means, not only should your resume stand out from the rest of the pile, it should be written and displayed in a manner that is captivating in a short span.
A well written resume can show way more than what’s on the paper about the applicant.
And reviewers are constantly on the lookout for those elements when screening the pile. While there’s no set “formula” for a perfect resume, there certainly are some essentials you should keep in mind while drafting a professional resume.
Here are the top five elements that we think are on priority when drafting an effective resume:
1. Decide the flow
A resume is like a multifaceted graph. Not only does it show your qualifications, it also shows your growth over the years. Hence, you should have a general idea in mind, before drafting a resume, about what are the details you would put in your resume that best shows relevant growth and qualification. In some cases, you might want to take an item off your resume because it does not concur with the flow of your resume and your future goals anymore. The flow of your resume should tell a story about you and it cannot be inconsistent. If a reviewer gets lost or confused anywhere on your resume, it can cause instant rejection.
2. Be concise
Every single word on your resume counts. Every single word on your resume should have a reason to be there. Remember that the reviewer wants to understand the document as fast as he can, and you can make his job easier by being as concise as possible. Use precise sentences and powerful verbs when conveying something qualitative. The same way, maximize the use of numbers and comparisons when displaying achievements and targets. The more results you can quantify and show, the more powerful it looks. It also helps the reviewer instantly gauge your abilities.
3. No grammar goof ups
Take this one religiously. The last thing you want on your resume is a grammatical error. The silliest of grammar errors can go a long way in making a dent on your impression. A grammar error is registered immediately on a reviewer’s mind and no matter how much your resume stands-out, it leaves some room for speculation. It also shows that you have not comprehensively proofread your own resume and paid little attention to detail. So, make sure that you proofread your resume multiple times, make others proofread it and fix all the errors, if any, before submitting.
4. Highlight your achievements
Talk less about your job roles and responsibilities, instead, talk about your success and achievements there. Use data to quickly convey your performance under the designation you served. (For ex: Increased sales by 125% to 4 mn. in a 12-month period; Secured 2nd position from a pool of 800 students in XYZ exam). Displaying your performance and achievements automatically conveys your job responsibilities. This helps the reviewer easily understand your experience and skill in a much clearer way than reading through mini paragraphs of superlatives.
5. Keep a simple, readable format.
Often, standing out is misinterpreted. It’s a common mistake to use heavy graphics, irrelevant banners and even colors on your resume. Try to keep your resume simple and plain, unless inevitable otherwise. Your resume should be easy to read and have enough white/blank spaces evenly distributed. A well balanced resume shows less clutter and easy readability. This helps the reviewer to quickly navigate the document and easily locate items he is looking for. If he finds it easy to read your resume, well, there is a good chance he’ll read it.
Alright, here’s a bonus one.
Edit, edit and edit again. Keep getting your resume reviewed by relevant people and fine tune every aspect of it based on feedback. The more you keep fine tuning, no matter how small the tweaks are, the better shape it will be in.