A lot of my juniors consult me on proper resume making. So, I have made a humble attempt to pen down my experience of resume making. This article is focused on campus recruitment andI request my readers to learn from my experience and use it to enhance their own resume style.
In order to start with the process of resume making, it is essential to understand the purpose it serves and how it is perceived by the recruiters.
A resume is a compilation of facts about your achievements, along with specific details about their attainment.
At the start of the recruitment process, recruiters have to go through a large stack of resumes. This leaves them with about 15–30 seconds per resume. It’s only after the initial shortlisting that the selected resumes are reviewed with a greater emphasis on details. Thus, at the first stage, the onus is on you to stand out. How can you do that? Well, recruiters look out for the following in a resume, and you should pay special attention to the same:
- 1. What?: Specific tasks you actually did.
- 2. Who? : The company, organisation, team etc. you were working with, along with your roles and responsibilities in the same. Make sure to include some details of the organisation like its size, its prior achievements etc.
- 3. Why? : The need of an impact created by your contribution.
Having gained familiarity with the essential components in a resume, let’s now address the question: How do you incorporate these elements in your resume? I have outlined the process in the following sections, along with the approximate time required for the each of the tasks. It should be kept in mind however, that these estimates are based on my personal experience. Your time allocation could vary based on your requirements, your schedule etc., and is up-to your discretion. Resume preparation will run parallel to your preparation for placements tests, as well as your regular classes, quizzes etc. I have therefore, used the unit days instead of hours, assuming you would devote at least 3–4 hours per day for your resume.
The process of resume making comprises of three major steps:
- 1. Research and Compilation
- 2. Drafting and Detailing
- 3. Reviews and Iterations
Research and Compilation (3–6 days)
The first step is the process of ‘research and compilation’. In order to get your resume selected from a pile of other resumes, you must research thoroughly about the company and the role you are applying for. In my opinion, a student sitting for campus placements/internships should prepare a separate resume for every company being applied to. If, however, you’ve limited preparation time, you can categorise companies based on the industry and the work profile offered, and prepare a single resume for all the companies in that category. This option should be taken up only if you’re running short of time; it is always better to draft separate resumes for each company.
One must remember that every applicant for the specific job or internship will be possessing roughly the same education and technical capabilities as you, so it is paramount that one must research about values that drive that organisation, the qualities that they look for and the specific roles you’ve held which are aligned with their job requirements.
In order to carry out this research work, visit the company’s website, attend pre-placement talks delivered by companies, read relevant news about the company and talk to people who have worked, are working or had interned there. Once you’re through with your research, focus on your achievements — what have been your major highlights in your college life (referred to as “spikes” in the placement jargon). Start compiling your spikes in an organised manner, quite similar to how books are arranged in a library. Needless to say, never ever lie on a resume in order to match your skills to the desired role in a company, as sooner or later it will be discovered, and the consequences could be detrimental to your placements. My suggestion would be to take the time required to develop those skills and apply later.
Drafting and Detailing (2–4 days)
After you have compiled the content to be put on the resume, the next step is to prepare a draft and start pouring in the specific details pertaining to your tasks and achievements, such as their scope, impact etc. Try to keep these details quantitative rather than qualitative. Highlight the extraordinary feats/results you have achieved during your internships or positions held during your college life. Mention timescales and values, along with the expertise you gained for different fields as well. For a college undergraduate (which I’m assuming most of you are), it would be a good idea to stick to a one-page resume. At this stage, you must choose a visually appealing format for your resume or prepare your own format. It should also be in line with both your personality and the role you are applying for. Formatting includes establishing a consistency in spacing, font types, margins, colours and font size used. For example, the resume of a person applying for the role a designer should be visually creative, colourful and portraying a good design sense. For a more formal role, the format should be a neatly organised layout, with tables and points, preferably designed on LaTeX, Word or similar software.
Highlight your achievements and impacts using action verbs, and make it a point to be precise and specific instead of using long paragraphs. The detailing should be done with brevity, with focus on the important and relevant skills only. Most of the students start explaining their activities during their internships or positions, which wastes words.
A simple rule is to keep it short and simple focusing on accomplishments, and not activities; and keep about 600 to 800 words on a single A4 sheet of your resume.
Do not oversell yourself portraying yourself as a master of all trades unless you really are. Showcase your achievements both online (like Quora, GitHub etc.) and offline (Cultural and academic competitions, Sports etc.). Another peculiar thing noticed in resumes is the contact information you put. I can’t stress enough on the importance of brevity; provide your contact number and an email address only, unless an address is required (which might come up in your research), as these are the major modes of communication. Use a professional email address or make one instead of using addresses as “imamcoolrockstar.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
In order to summarise, focus on-
- Succinct Style
- Impact, results and achievements
Having reached this stage, you would have an aesthetic resume in front of you. At this stage a lot of students consider the work done, but in reality you have just reached about a quarter of the process. After this step is completed, proofread the resume yourself at least 2 times and correct the mistakes you find. Just recheck every minute detail, check for consistency, and verify the facts and numbers quoted with transcripts and certificates. Make all the necessary changes you feel like in the content and format and when you are sure that all the t’s are cut and i’s are dotted, move to the next step.
Reviews and Iterations (5–10 days)
This would be the final step where you should get your resume reviewed and take feedback from all of those who are your well-wishers. Start with your roommates and friends and ask them to point out the absurdities they feel and lack of clarity in your resume. Ask them what they have grasped from the resume and check whether it is the same as what you wanted to convey. Compile the feedback and make changes you feel are required. Make them review it again after the changes and repeat the process.
When you are done with your friends, move to someone with greater experience like your seniors, career counselors or professors and collect their feedback. Repeat the process. At this stage, print your resume out on an A4 sheet (most common size expected to be used by your firm), and have a look at the resume. Look out for missing content (if any), if the margins are proper, there are no unnecessary headers or footers printed, and the printed paper conveys what you want it to. Finally, talk to those currently in the industry or who had worked or interned in the company and ask for their feedback. After these iterations, your resume would be good enough for submission. Proofread it once again and change the file name to something formal as “<Your Name>_Resume” instead of “YOURNAME_draft1” or “Yourname_Sample”.
I would like to clarify here that this is by no means, a guide to resume making, nor do I recommend you to limit yourself to the guidelines specified here. It is always a good option to explore different sources, evaluate their suggestions and viewpoints and finally come up with your own customised resume.
Once you are satisfied completely, submit the resume and start focusing on the further steps of recruitment process. All the best! 🙂