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Writing the perfect resume

Writing the perfect resume

A resume is one of the most important documents when you are seeking a job. Often, recruiters judge a candidate by their resume even before they decide to call you for an interview. This makes having a good resume imperative. The right resume can increase the number of callbacks for the interview.

Most candidates either copy their resume from a friend or a website, or they don’t put enough thought to it. Seasoned recruiters who go through hundreds of resumes on a regular basis can easily tell if you have copied your resume from somewhere or you made on yourself. This makes it essential for you to spend some time on writing a resume that not only looks original but feels natural and “just right”.

We at Authentic Staffing Agency go through over 1500 resumes every day and we were appalled by the lack of details and clarifications that most resumes do not have. Often we need to contact the applicant via phone or email and confirm a few details, or specifically ask for more information as the resume itself seems insufficient.

Seeing that this is such a prevalent issue, we decided to write a small article detailing how to make the ideal resume so that you increase your chances of a call back for that interview you desperately want.

Any resume writing should essentially cover the following 10 steps:

  1. The right format
  2. A Summary or Objective
  3. Relevant work experience
  4. Achievements
  5. Your educational background
  6. Your relevant skill sets
  7. Personal information including current contact details
  8. A Cover Letter
  9. Checking the resume for grammatical or other errors

The Right Format

Traditionally, a resume can be written in 3 formats. Each format has some advantages over the other. Choose the right format according to your career and the job you are applying for.

The Chronological Format

This format is the most recognizable of all. Most applicants follow this format. Here you list chronologically the experience you have, your education, and other skillset. Since its very easy to read and understand, most recruiters prefer this format. However, if a recruiter does not find the relevant information, they easily move on to the next applicant, which is why if you choose to use this format, ensure you mention relevant experience and skills. This will make the recruiter read your resume in detail further increasing your chances of a callback.

Following are the sections of the chronological resume format

Contact Information

Name, email, phone number, and city (you need not mention the whole address)
You can include a link to your LinkedIn profile as well

Work Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order. The most recent job comes first, followed by the job before it.
In the job details, include Company Name, Location, Your Job Title, Start and End dates. You may also include a brief job description.
If you have had a promotion, mention it as a different entry under the work experience to highlight it.

Education

List your education in the same reverse chronological order. The education section should always include the name of the institute, your degree, location, and the number of years.
If you have received good grades, then you can include the grades as well. However, you can skip the grades if you need more space for other things.

Tip: If you have done any internship or have a side project or work experience while studying, you can include that as well. This is especially important for freshers who do not have enough real-world experience to show. It is completely okay to not mention about your internship if you have enough job experience.

The Functional Format

The functional format puts emphasis on skills, accomplishments, and qualifications over experience. This format is useful for candidates whose experience is not properly represented by the other two formats. It is actually the opposite of the chronological format as the work history is mentioned without much detail at the bottom of the page.

However, the skills, accomplishments and qualifications are expanded sections which can highlight the relevant details according to the job you’re applying for.

This format is suitable for people who have had large gaps in their employment or when they cannot get an interview after using the other 2 formats.

Tip: Most large companies use automated software to go through resumes and select the most promising ones. The recruiters get to see only the resumes that are shortlisted by the software. The functional format does not do well with such software and should be avoided when you suspect that software might be going through your resume before an actual recruiter.

Contact Information

Name, email, phone number, and city (you need not mention the whole address)
You can include a link to your LinkedIn profile as well

Qualification

Instead of talking about your work history like in the chronological format. Here you have the freedom to hand pick and combine different qualifications from your experience according to the job.
You can think about the different certifications you have, the projects you have done, or the teams you have worked in.
• Make sure you address all the points in the job description.

Skills

Skills are the different abilities you have developed over your work experience. They can be broad like “managed accounting at XYZ firm” or be specific like a tool or software that is widely used in your industry and you have mastered it.
Skills help recruiters understand what you bring to the table. It is a great way of showing what you have to offer.
Ensure that you mention some details about the skills acquired like when did you acquire it, how long have you used it, etc.

Miscellaneous sections

These sections differ from candidate to candidate and job to job. For example, Awards & Certifications, Achievements, Testimonials, Side Projects, Volunteer Work, etc.

Professional Experience

Talk about your work experience in this section.
List the jobs in reverse chronological order
Include designation, company name, location, and dates.
You need not include a description.

Professional Experience

Talk about your education in the section
If you are a fresher, you can skip the professional experience section and only include this section.
Include the name of the institution, your degree, and the years.

The Hybrid Format

This format is also known as a combined format. It is the most popular format as of now. This format combines the best of both the previous formats. In this format, job seekers highlight their key achievements and qualifications at the top, followed by reverse chronological order of your work and educational experience.

Contact Information

Name, email, phone number, and city (you need not mention the whole address)
You can include a link to your LinkedIn profile as well

Summary Statement

A summary statement is the first thing a recruiter looks at. Essential it’s a very brief and concise description of yourself as a candidate.
It is the perfect place to talk about your strongest experience and qualification.
This section is especially useful if you are looking to change you career as you can use this space as an opportunity to let the recruiter know about the reasons for your career change.

Examples of Summary Statements

Experienced and driven Marketing Manager with international experience in Social Media, and SEM. From 2015-2019, was directly responsible for the increase in customer base by 20% in the 5 years of working

Industry recognized executive in General Management (P&L) with over 25 years of experience working for leading oil and gas companies with experience in multi-cultural, and multi-linguistic environments

Video Editor and adventurer with over 8 years of experience creating and editing video footage for over 50 brands. With skills in both editing and production I will be an ideal fit for your startup as I thrive in workplaces where I can take control and deliver what is needed

Skills

This section includes your skills as discussed above.
Make sure you go through the job description and mention all relevant and matching skills that you posses in this section

Professional Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order. The most recent job comes first, followed by the job before it.
In the job details, include Company Name, Location, Your Job Title, Start and End dates. You may also include a brief job description.
If you have had a promotion, mention it as a different entry under the work experience to highlight it.

Tip: Under each entry, make sure you summarise your skills, accomplishments, and experience you gained which is related to the job you are applying for.

Education

List your education in the same reverse chronological order. The education section should always include the name of the institute, your degree, location, and the number of years.
If you have received good grades, then you can include the grades as well. However, you can skip the grades if you need more space for other things.

Tip: If you have done any internship or have a side project or work experience while studying, you can include that as well. This is especially important for freshers who do not have enough real-world experience to show. It is completely okay to not mention about your internship if you have enough job experience.

Summary or Objective

A summary highlights the whole resume in a concise manner. You can use this page to talk about why the manager should hire you and not anyone else. We have given some examples in the hybrid resume format section for you to go through.

Make sure you highlight your achievements and not your duties. Also use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible to increase the impact.

Example:
Meticulous Customer Support Representative with over 4 years of experience at a large online retailer. Highest rating in internal reviews (97% customer satisfaction) looking to advance my career by growing with Amazon India.

Relevant Work Experience

The work experience is the main section of any resume. It helps the recruiter understand the kind of work you have been doing and if you’re fit for the position you have applied for.

Which is why, in this section, make sure you talk about the sections of the work experience that directly relate to the job you have applied for.

Moreover, ensure that you include all details of the job in a precise manner that gives a reader a good idea of what you have done as an employee.

It is a good idea to include key responsibilities and achievements of your job here. You can also include keywords like organized, managed, executed, planned, etc. to let the recruiter know of your other skills.

Achievements

Achievements are important aspects of your employment that you need to highlight. Here you can list any awards that you have won like employee of the month, or if you have had an excellent performance review.

If you are a fresher, you can list your extra-curricular activities or other achievements here. Ensure that you include all relevant achievements here. The key word is relevant. It makes no sense to mention that you won an award for eating the most cakes in 30 minutes. However, if you were the top performer in your sales team, it makes sense to highlight it here.

Education

Begin this section by including the most recent and relevant degree you have achieved. Follow it up in reverse chronological order. The more work experience you have, the less important your educational details become. So if you are fresh out of college, feel free to include all educational achievements and details.

However, if you have a work experience of 5-10 years, then just mentioning your relevant degree is more than enough. You can even skip the school you attended if you need more space.

Your relevant skillset

This section is one of the most important sections after your work history. In the skills section you can talk about all the different skills you have learnt in your career. It can be a software, some personal skill, or it can be a technique that helps you stay productive.

It all depends on the job description. For example, mentioning that you are very good with MS Excel is great if you are applying for an accounting job. But if you are applying for a customer representative, then you could skip that and include more relevant skills that talk about how you can handle customers better or how good you are with your communication.

Here are the type of skills you can use on the resume:

Communication Skills – social skills, interpersonal skills, listening skills, etc.
Technical Skills – Skills that are required to perform technical tasks like familiarity with a software of coding language
Job-specific Skills – Skills that are must for a specific job. (You can mostly find this in the job description)
Management Skills – Talk about skills that you posses that help you manage people
Transferable Skills – If you are applying for a job outside your work experience you can talk about skill you have learnt in the previous jobs that can be applied to the new job.

Don’t just google and copy paste skills on the resume. Take some time and do some thinking about which skills you have learnt that can be relevant. 

Personal Information including Contact Details

A great resume has a contact information section right at the top. This ensures that the hiring manager and easily contact your for any questions or if they want to schedule an interview.

This section should include:

Name and last name (No need to include middle name or father’s name)
Phone Number
Email ID
LinkedIn Profile Link
Personal Website (If you have)
Your location (Where you live)

Avoid doing the following things:

Do not include the full address, it just takes space and no one uses it.
Do not add a title to your resume.
No need for your birthday (unless the job has a minimum age requirement)
Do not mention a secondary phone number or email
Do not include your photo. It takes up a lot of space

Cover Letter

A cover letter is a small letter that accompanies your resume. This letter might seem unimportant but it is arguably the most important part of your application. You can use the cover letter to highlight things that otherwise do not fit in the resume.

Before the internet was popular, cover letters were hand written and posted along with the resume. Nowadays, your email body is the cover letter. Attach your resume, and in the email body talk about how you are the best fit for the job.

Proof reading

Nothing kills a resume more than spelling errors and confusing grammar. The resume is supposed to showcase you as the ideal candidate. Having errors on the resume makes it seem like you are not serious for the job or that you do not care about correcting your mistakes. Both things will have a negative effect on your application.

Ensure that you go through the resume and cover letter multiple times. Use spell check. If you have someone who can help you out with your application, ask them to take a look and make changes accordingly.

Conclusion

Making a resume is never simple. However, it is worth every second you spend. We spend years finding a job which is the perfect one. If you want to get that job, the cover letter and resume are the 2 things which will potentially make that decision for you. So having a killer resume will not only give a lasting impression but also ensure a call back for the face to face interview.