Wednesday, 12 September 2012


When we enter the job market, we are viewed as 'products'. If we are viewed as such, then our resume could be said to be the 'product brochure'. The product brochure would speak for the product in ways more than one. It could give an impressive array of information regarding the 'product', which could stimulate interest in the recruiting community.

A resume should be a reflection of what all you stand for, what all you are - as an individual as well as a prospect for recruitment. It should present a clear picture to the recruiter about you;describe you precisely in all aspects, and engage the attention of the recruiter.
Before you start your work on your resume, you should find out what the company is looking for in the prospect, and try to tailor your resume to match the requirements listed by the company.
To this end, you could take the help of your seniors in the college, elders at home, peers in the college, friends, search the Internet for information organisation, and placement agencies. These sources would go a long way in helping you script an excellent resume.

Please understand that to get to the final copy, you would need to prepare a few drafts. This would essentially help you fine-tune the information, which you would carry in the resume. The best way to prepare a resume is to 'get going' by noting all the possible points of information you would like to project in the resume.

The reason as to why you should prepare a resume would change according to the nature of the situation you are in. If you are a fresher (final year student / just out of college), then a resume does not serve the purpose of getting you a short-list for an interview. This is because you would be selected for the interview on the basis of the aptitude test. At the same time, it does not mean that the resume serves no purpose. In the case of a fresher, the recruiter checks your resume only after the candidates for the interview are short-listed. Now this entire issue of checking your resume would be dealt with only minutes before the interview.

While most of you are freshers, however, in case of a candidate with work experience, the primary objective of the resume would be to seek a short-list for the interview. In such case, your resume should hold the attention of the recruiter for long enough to get you a short-list for the interview. In this case, your resume should highlight the nature of the work experience as well as accomplishments in academic and work-related activity.

Basic guidelines

Use white-coloured executive bond paper for preparing a resume. Use only one side of the paper.

There is no hard and fast rule as to how a resume should be prepared and how it should look. If somebody asks you to not to write 'Curriculum Vitae' or 'Resume' at the top, then kindly ignore such advice. Also, it is not compulsory that a resume should begin in a standard format like where you begin with your name followed by address, contact number, e-mail id, etc. You may choose any format that puts out the best picture of your candidature for the job.

Do not mention your height, weight, gender, religion, caste and other other such odd details. Just remember that you are applying for a job and not for a bride / bridegroom contest!

Do not paste / staple your photograph on the resume unless the recruiter specifically asks for the same. If need be, use a latest photograph.

Please try to align the left as well the right side of the page. The resume should not appear in a haphazard alignment indicating an unfinished job.

Major sub-heads

The following are the major sub-heads under which you should carry the relevant information:

It is a largely accepted notion that you should start the main body of the resume with your objective(s). It is not mandatory to state an objective. The objective could change between companies as it would depend on the nature of the job you would apply for.

If you want to state your objective, then use simple words and short sentences. Avoid the use of high-sounding words like "determination / discipline / industrious", which are used more for the effect they create. Please remember that you will have to substantiate such words when questioned in the interview.

Here, you should mention your educational qualifications in reverse chronological order i.e. starting with the latest (degree). Please make sure that you quote accurate percentages / absolute scores.

Other Academic-related activities
Under this head, you could write about project(s), mini-project(s), paper presentation, industrial visits, apprenticeship, etc. This area should highlight your skill set in the relevant field.

If you have won any awards / prizes, citations / certificates of merit, then you should mention them. Please do not shy away from highlighting these important points as they reflect another facet of your personality.

Strengths / Weaknesses
This is one area where you should be very careful. Before you mention your strengths, make sure that you have enough examples / situations where you have exhibited such strengths. Also make sure that you should be able to substantiate such strengths if you are asked to demonstrate the same in the interview.

The same caution applies in the case of weaknesses. Make sure that in case you are asked to specify an instance where your weaknesses have let you down, then you should be able to come with such situations.

It is very easy to get carried away especially when we talk of our strengths. Please ensure that you use simple words to describe this specific area in your resume. You could list words like discipline, dedication, honesty, hard-working, etc., as your strengths. But as said earlier, you should be able to come up with the right answers if asked to demonstrate these qualities in the interview.

Extra-curricular activities and Hobbies / Interests
First of all, you should know that there is a simple difference between extra-curricular activities and hobbies / interests.

An extra-curricular activity is something that you pursue at a serious level, where you put in a dedicated effort and pursue the same with passion. In other words, you take time-out to indulge in an extra-curricular activity. For example, in the college, you had captained the college cricket team. In case, in the pursuit of such extra-curricular activity, you had won any prizes or any other honour, then do mention the same under the relevant head. Award or no award, you could still mention the pursuit of such extra-curricluar activity under this head.

An interest / hobby is something that you involve yourself in when it comes your way. Like watching cricket telecast on TV. You would watch it only when you have time for it and only when it is there. So, an interest / hobby could be called a fad, something that you pursue at a not-so-serious level.

Computing skills
If you are applying for a position in software development / programming, then mention the skill set you have acquired in the relevant field. Please make sure that you state all programming languages / applications / programmes as well as your proficiency level in the mentioned areas.

Positions held
The need for writing down about positions held would not arise in case you are a fresher. However, if you have any work experience / or are working, then you should mention about positions held / job profile in the organisation(s) you worked for / working for.

These would help the recruiter ascertain the fact of your suitability for the vacancy in the organisation.

Languages known
If you are applying for a job in sales / marketing, then you should mention the languages you are comfortable with. You could mention the same in case you are applying for an opening outside of your home state.

Do's and Dont's

Make sure that you carry accurate and relevant information in your resume. Please jot down all such information that could engage the attention of the recruiter.

In case, you have participated in / organised a social welfare activity (like a blood donation camp), then mention the same. You may not have any certificate to back-up your claim but still you could go ahead and include the same in your resume. But do not mis-represent any information.

Use a eye-pleasing font like Arial or Times New Roman. Capitalise proper names.

Please send to / use the original copy of your resume for any new application. Do not send / use photocopies.

You could also customise your resume to suit the skill set requirements listed by the company for a specific job.

Avoid spelling / grammatical errors. Your resume should not have stains / cuts.

Avoid slang / college lingo / informal language.

You could also use action words like awarded, achieved, performed, led, planned, presented, etc. But do not use them just for the sake of the effect such words create. Use them only if they are apt.

In conclusion, please understand that a good resume should highlight two important issues: your skills (academic and work-related) and you as a individual / person.

Always bear this in mind that a well-written resume always has the potential to arrest the recruiter's attention. This is the first step toward getting 'that' much-coveted job.

(1) How many pages should the resume have?

While there is no restriction on the length of a resume (either at the lower or the upper end), you should keep in mind that if the resume is too long, the crucial points that you want to highlight may get missed out. It is not the length of the resume but its content, which is important. In an ideal case, the resume of a fresh graduate should be around one-and-a-half pages long. In any case, it should not exceed two pages. Do not carry irrelevant information, which could make the recruiter lose interest in your candidature. Avoid carrying information in great detail - your resume should not read like an autobiography. The information you carry in the resume should generate interest in the recruiter. At the same time, by leaving out some other related data, you could actually make the interview ask you information for the same. This way you could leave enough subtle hints, which could place you in a comfortable state and help you talk during the interview.

(2) Should I sign the resume?

It is not necessary to sign the resume. But in case, you are sending the resume with a covering letter, then you should sign the covering letter.

(3) Should the resume contain a declaration at the end that "all the information contained in this resume is true to the best of my knowledge"?

Such a declaration makes no sense. After all, it is 'your' resume, which means that the facts would be about yourself. It is only natural that the recruiter expects the total information to be true. We would advise you not to make such statements in your resume.

(4) Should I give references at the end of the resume?

References are normally considered important in the case of those who have industry experience and are seeking a shift for career advancement. In such cases, the recruiter may call up the references to check on the quality of the candidate and his contribution in the workplace.

In the case of freshers / final year students, references are not normally necessary, as they may not carry much weightage. However, if a particular company asks for references, you should obviously give the same - and for a fresher, the references could come from the principal, head of the department, or project guide.

(5) If I am staying away from home, should I give both my residential address and permanent address if they are different?

In such case, it is advisable that you furnish any one specific address where all kinds of communication could reach without hassle. If you are giving your present address which is temporary (and not giving the permanent address), you should be available at this address till at least the admission process including the receipt of the offer letter issued by the company is complete.

You can also give both your permanent and present addresses in your resume by suitably identifying the two.

(6) Currently, I am pursuing my degree. Is it advisable to include my school activities in the resume?

You could include those activities which bring out important positive facets of your personality. Also the activity per se would not be important but for its ability to add value to your candidature. If you were a part of your school football team, then a mention of such activity would definitely enhance your chances. Any such value-enhancing activity should not be left out of your resume.

(7) If I apply for an engineering or software job, then why should I mention about hobbies, non-academic accomplishments and related information?

There is a simple reason for you to furnish such information. As an individual, you are the sum total of your academic and non-academic activities. An organisation is manned by people. It is not a place where people work like robots. Your ability to carry yourself in a workplace could manifest itself in the way you spend your leisure, the way you interact with people, etc. For example, if you are a good orator, the same could show your ability to communicate with people at large in an easy and comfortable manner. Organisations look for people who can add life to the workplace.

(8) Though I have participated in a large number of extra-curricular activities, I don't have certificates to authenticate such participation. Can I still include the activities in my resume?

Yes, you can. For example, if you had organised a blood donation camp in your college or housing society, you may not have a certificate to prove it. Yet, the activity would speak a lot about you as a person and your commitment to society.

In the end, a few words of caution. Be prepared to face questions on any such information that you may provide in your resume. Remember the interviewer would be able to make out whether your claim is genuine or not. Do not bluff.


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