Earlier this week, an old Internet acquaintance pinged me on Facebook to ask for career advice. Now columnists who spend all day at home—desperately typing anything that can pass off as a column even rhyming words—are in no position to give career advice.
But then she is a frequent reader of this column.
And assumed I would have job-wisdom most solemn.
Would I be a darling and peruse her resume?
Also read | Sidin Vadukut’s previous columns
A few moments later I received an email from her with an attachment. Something looked off. I pinged her back. Excuse me, I clarified, but it appears you have send me some War and Peace type document instead of your resume. The file attachment is massive.
At which point she told me that this was probably because she had made a five-page resume.
There was a deathly silence in the chat window.
Sit down, figuratively speaking, I told her, I think we need to have a chat (also figuratively speaking).
This week I’d like to use this column to put forth my thoughts on how to make a good resume. My personal resume manifesto, if you will. Now, do keep in mind that these are my personal viewpoints only. They are not endorsed in any fashion by any group of experts or, shudder, industry body of HR managers.
So if you see a job advertisement in the newspaper that says “Resumes invited from go-getting dynamic managers with a flair for personal excellence, independent thinking, congressional hearing and telecom engineering for global media organization. Leave oral resume on your answering machine. We’ll pick it up.” Then I advice you to do as they say.
However, in the absence of any clear guidelines, my manifesto should work in most instances.
Font and paper
You need to use crisp white sheets of paper. Bonded sheets are expensive, but recommended. This is because anything printed on bonded sheet looks classy. In much the same way that any idiot in a suit looks at least as good as a maître ‘d. (You can try both at home. Take a picture of a shabby friend. Photoshop his head onto a suit. Then take a printout of this on bonded sheet. See? Class.) Choosing font is easy. Use whatever font you compose official emails in.
Don’t: Use more than two or three pages. No. Don’t.
Do: Remember to change your office printer quality setting from “Economic Downturn Fast Draft For The Masses” to “Surely Only The CEO Will Use This” when you print final version.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, add an objective to a resume. I don’t know why people do this. Maybe because of Microsoft Word templates. Nothing puts me off from a great resume like a juvenile: “Make the world a better place through ERP programming”-type objective on the top.
Unless of course, you are going to say: “My objective is to get invited for an interview at which point I will come to your office and kill everyone with an axe.” In this case, please include it in order to provide a heads-up.
Don’t: Use the objective to fill up blank space on the page. For that you have things like Hobbies and Interests where you can lie blatantly and comprehensively.
Do: If you must grovel, do so in the covering letter or email.
Control your emotions boss! Control! Yes, yes there are things that have gone wrong in office. But this is not the place to settle scores. Kindly avoid the “played a crucial, but under-appreciated role in expanding Maharashtra market” type of bullet points. Focus on listing all the things you did and the things you helped to do. Avoid Braveheart descriptors like “single-handedly” and “under heavy enemy fire”. Avoid repetition.
Don’t: Try dirty verbal tricks: “Acquired and managed several major Fortune 5002 clients.
Do: Use relevant jargon confidently.
Just say what you studied, where, for how long and leave it at that. No showing off please. By all means flaunt one or two grades or distinctions. But avoid results of shady scholarship exams conduced by housing society mothers’ association.
Don’t: Say “School topper from Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram (MMS fame).”
Do: Not proud of your alma mater? Divert attention by focusing on what you studied instead of where. Not proud of what you studied? Include above MMS in email.
There is a simple rule to determine how far you can go. Only include things you can speak about without embarrassment at the interview. Play that scenario in your head. Do you really want to elaborate on “Inter-school Sports Championship 1998: Most improved sub-junior shot putt”? Delete.
Do: Use extreme specifics when mentioning interests. This makes a huge impact. So not “Amitabh Bachchan films”, but “Bachchan’s post-modernist phase including, but not limited to Ajooba”.
Don’t: Get bored and just type: “Reading books and listening to music.” Instead try: “Reading music and listening to books”.
Don’t ask family or friends for feedback on your resume. They will lie. Instead, change names and details and give it to your HR manager as a “referral application”. See what happens. Don’t take it personally.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com