Resume writing Tips

I recently helped someone rewrite his resume to present his education and experience in a better light and figured the advice is generic enough to apply to most people looking for a new opportunity. Here is the summary of the tips I offered. Hope others are able to find this useful advice as well.

When you apply for a job, you need to realize that you are competing in a market place with number of people who are very likely more qualified and experienced than you. Given this reality, you need to do everything in your capacity to shine a bright light on your education and experience without embellishing your resume with false information which will fail close scrutiny.

A potential employer wants to know the following about you:
  • Who are you? As in, what differentiates you from your peers and everyone else – something unique about you, your experience, your knowledge that is compelling for them to consider you for employment. Why should the company be interested in talking to you versus scores of others like you?
  • If you are a recent student, what have you learnt in college beyond just enumerating of your courses? How did you participate in the course? Were you active or passive? How did you take advantage of what you learnt? How did you contribute to the class?
  • If you did projects, not just what you accomplished in the project, but what did you learn as part of doing the project? What was your role in the project? Were you a leader or a follower? Did you bring any unique perspective to the project? How did the project outcome become better due to your contribution? How will you apply this learning to a new project or job?
  • If you worked some place (either as an intern or full time employee) what was your contribution and what did you learn in the process? Again not just an enumeration of various projects that you ‘participated’ in, but more importantly what was your contribution? Did you lead any part of the assigned project? What unique perspective did you bring to the project that made it better? How are you going to bring these learning’s to a new job? In what way will you make your new work place better?
  • How will you be able to help the organization you are looking to join with this education and experience?
When it comes to enumerating technical skills you need to ensure it is just not an enumeration of skills like programming languages, or tools or Operating System, but your resume should highlight how much you actually know. You should clearly articulate which languages, tools and OS you are an expert at and which ones you have peripheral knowledge (or just don’t mention those where you don’t have an established mastery). What did you do to gain this expertise and how will you apply this learning process to learning new languages and tools? Note that very rarely are you hired for a specific role. An employer is looking for someone who can evolve with the changing nature of every organization.
Read your resume multiple times to ensure it is crisp, there are no grammatical errors and it feels interesting. I am surprised at the number of resumes I see with simple grammar and sentence structure issues that any good editor would highlight. Have someone you trust, review and provide feedback. Like any thing else, a resume is a work in progress. It has to constantly keep evolving with your experience and you have to tailor it slightly to target the specific role and company you are applying to. Also, it doesn’t help to email your resume to the recruiting or HR department at your target company. You need to figure out how to circumvent the roadblocks ahead of you and reach the hiring managers directly leveraging your networks. More about that in another post.

2 thoughts on “Resume writing Tips

  1. Great tips Ram. If there is challenging stuff outside of work that one has accomplished, that needs to be mentioned. I have asked to speak to a candidate just b’cos of their interesting set of activities. Linkedin can now be a live resume too.

    1. Krish,

      Good point about mentioning significant outside activities. It is the responsibility of the candidate to educate the potential hiring manager on what makes them a unique value proposition. Everything matters as long as it crisply helps explain who you are and why you matter.


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