As a graduate student of Information Management at iSchool, Syracuse University, I completely understand the need to stand out in the pile of hundreds of resumes and differentiate myself. But, it is never easy to create a unique resume, which can be very frustrating. During this tricky phase, your university’s career services can help you in critiquing your resume and molding it the way a job demands in turn helping you secure that job/internship.
It takes about 10 seconds for an employer to judge you and your personality based on your resume. The resume is supposed to be a relatively quick way for someone to get to know your personal and professional accomplishments, skills, interests, and the potential you have to create value in a given career opportunity. The sad thing is, it’s pretty outdated and overloaded with jargon. While attending the session, I jotted down seven important points which I felt were the backbone of the session. I list them below with a brief description about each of them.
1) Read through the Job Description.
I can’t stress enough on how important it is to read and understand the job description properly and after that modify your resume’s Career Objectives accordingly.
Now if you observe this job description, the job title mentioned is Business Analyst, but if you read carefully it also lists that you will have to “Build Algorithms.” Consider if you were to submit your resume which stressed on how in past you did requirement gathering, client interaction, et al. while working as Business Analyst, do you think you will get this job?
Highly unlikely, you know the reason now, don’t you?
2) Limit technical jargon:
“Developed a project using swings in Java, used Oracle 12C for the database to deploy the application on Apache based Linux kernel.” Imagine the HR Personnel interviewing you goes through that sentence; it would mostly go over his head cause quite often HR guy are not too familiar with those terms. He is the HR guy for a reason and not a developer. So limit the jargon to an extent where it does not feel like you are over doing it.
3) Focus on Transferrable Skills :
Wiki defines transferrable skills as follows, “A transferable skill is an ability or expertise which may be used in a variety of roles or occupations when required. Examples include communication, problem-solving and self-control.” When an employer is hiring you, he is not only hiring you for that role, he is also hiring you because you have some transferrable skills which they feel can help the team which can help them improve their bottom line, it can be your curiosity, your problem-solving ability or your leadership skills. Transferrable skills can be anything which in totality can help you in your job, so focus on them and bring them out in style on your resume.
4) Quantify your Achievements:
Example-1: I assisted in improving the presence of the company on social media considerably and helped them set up new marketing channels for expanding their business.
Example-2: Increased the presence of the company on social media by 30% over the period of 3 months organically and helped them setup four new marketing channels for expanding their business.
Which sounded more convincing?
Example 2nd right? Reason?
Yes, the numbers stated in example-2 gives proof that you contributed well, and 30% increase is a good number in such a short span of time. Hence, despite having contributed a lot to a project, if you don’t have quantifiable numbers to show, how will the employers know “How much” was your contribution.
5) Accomplishments v/s Tasks:
One of the most common mistakes that students do is that they consider tasks/projects that they have completed as accomplishments. NO! Achievements in another word mean “Awards” for your excellent work/contribution. You don’t want to merge the line between something which was awarded to you, which has so much more weight on your resume; than something which you have done yourself as part of the project.
6) Mention academic projects:
You might have worked for a couple of years in a Multi National Company, but if you are applying for an internship/job while pursuing an academic degree, it is better off to mention a couple of academic projects as well. Mentioning academic projects will not only strengthen your case in front of the employer, but it will indirectly signify that you do not discriminate between tasks and give each task its deserved importance. By mentioning one or maybe two relevant academic projects can gain you some extra brownie points.
7) Proper Formatting :
You may as well have worked at MIT as Research Assistant under one of the best professor in Data Science, but if you fail to format your resume properly, all that experience ends up counting for nothing because you fail to improve upon the absolute fundamental aspect of your resume.
You seriously don’t want a resume like that, no proper formatting- font style and color both. A big NO to all those jazz. A good example of format can be this:
If you observe, the resume subtly has its important points in bold so that the employer can notice it at a glance. The company name is in bold, but the description is not, because if you had both in bold, ease of reading would have been impacted. So proper formatting is of supreme importance.
Some good properly formatted resume can be found at the iCareers Resource Page
A couple of bonus tips.
8) Do not make spelling mistakes:
Making spelling errors in your resume is a cardinal sin, you don’t want your employer to look at your resume and find “Business Analyst” instead of “Business Analyst.” Make sure you proofread it yourself or ask your senior/friend to proofread it for you because at times we tend to become blind to our mistakes due to repetitive reviewing.
9) Do not Lie :
Don’t lie. Ever.You may be a sociopathic liar, but frankly one way or the other you will get caught. The employer or the HR manager are experts in what they do, and one of their next job is to check you and your facts based on what you have mentioned in your resume
I hope these points, which despite sounding basic are of supreme importance help you as they can easily make or break your prospects of getting that job you desire. All the best for all your pursuits.