How (not) to write Resumes

In my current company, i have been recruiting people for a long time. I don’t make mass recruitment here, but prefer to select people with some specialty. Most of the times it takes more than 100 resumes (and a factor more that doesn’t go through the first shortlist) by the time a person joins in.  So by far, i would have seen few thousands resume and i would say a great lot of it is quite irritating.

When i see so many resumes, all those hoping that I would have done justice to you by reading all details, I am certainly sorry for them. And the way most resumes are written, even if i wish, I wouldn’t be able to.

Here are the most typical annoyances from the resumes: [Of course, i am primarily biased by resumes of engineers over other professions, so others may excuse me if you don’t agree.]

1.  Typesetting.

When i was doing my M.Tech, for one of the reports i submitted, my guide has slammed me with dissatisfaction “In the age of advance word processor and spell checkers, if you still can’t do proper type setting or leave spelling and grammar mistakes, it is unacceptable”. I see that very true and specially if it is for the resumes. Typos, irregular flow of typing, sentences poking out of margins, nested tables that blocks cursors, all add to annoying clutter. True ,that, in today’s world it is hard to let go of a good programmer just because he had spelling mistakes in resume; but nevertheless, it does tell me volumes of mediocrity built in each of ones creations; and that would continue in the work you would be potentially do in a new job.

2.  The Objective.

Wow! Most engineers are bad poets- you can make out. Here it goes “I want to work in a dynamic organization with great commitment and work towards benefit of customer such that i make best utilization of my talent and grow along with company!.” Sounds familiar? This one comes as is with probability of 50% or more of all resumes! First of all, in today’s world who doesn’t want to be in a situation you described above? This stated objective would fit any one from a junior engineer to CEO. This would fit anyone who is a line worker or a researcher or a sales guy. Does this tell me whether you are the person i am looking for? No. And the worst part is, most people copy this from their friends resume. When i read such “Objective” on your resume, it doesn’t move me with “Wow, here is the guy who want’s to grow”; but rather i classify it as “here is the guy who doesn’t know what he wants from his next job”. Of course, there are few honest guys who doesn’t waste real estate in their resume page with such junk. Ideally i would have liked to read some thing like this: “I am a good (java/c++) programmer, and now i am looking towards more algorithmic/design problems”. Or, “I have been a tech lead/team lead for 2 years and seeking to become a project manager” or better still, “I want to work in a start up company now to face new challenges”.  These tells me whether you are the one i am looking for (or not). And some thing simple but attracts the attention of someone.

3. Experience –

So how long you have been in the industry ? A very simple questions isn’t it? But i get super precision answer in most resumes. People put years of experience like 2.7 years, 3.4 years, 6.2 years! And what is the “.2” (in 6.2) years mean? I don’t really know. So this tells that you are an engineer with clutter in your mind; you want to ensure full precision till number of months – but you abuse mathematics to save additional word ‘month’. There are some who writes it as 4+ years which is atleast decent. Usually, i don’t quite care if you are 2 months (aka .2 years) more than someone.

4. The details and jargon.

Over 3 years of experience, people do something like 9 projects – and a resume is good 6 pages. It’s actually an Autobiography in the making! They write everything about the company, the client, the customer, the size of the team, the time of project, the description of product. And finally comes “My role : ‘worked as a developer'” Aah, i should have read that last line and moved forward. Many time people put all junk information (and sometimes irrelevant) about the project, and what goes missing is that what was the key contribution by them, what was the most difficult challenge in the project which you solved, what did you learn from it.

5. Achievements –

Unless you are not the common lot, Achievement usually only means as achievements during the academic years! Yes, in most resumes achievements figures in the annex  which is only applicable for school and college days like “Secure scholarship” etc. For 5 years someone have been in the industry, there is NO achievement? Achievement as an overall career and for the individual projects, is usually the most critical criteria to evaluate a person; but ironically most of the time that is never explicit. This also shows that resume is written pretty much with a spirit of filling up a form at the RTO office: you want to be correct of course, but it is only a necessary evil you have to do.

6. Technologies!

Quite often I can’t quite get away with jargon: “Technologies known: PHP, HTML, JAVA” – dude, i thought you are an engineer and not a business guy who puts everything in one abstract basket called technology! It is not derogatory put any thing under “Technologies” – it is just a wrong representation of what you are skilled with. This is not done many a times as a purpose of putting a jargon but due to lack of expression to classify as “Things i have been exposed to till yet”.  Though, off late i am seeing a bit of progress here; but still people wont ever missed out a single key word.  When i dropped my freelancing to move towards a job – i had included, PHP, Javascript everything on earth i knew. But when i actually used to get job offers in these areas, i actually used to get surprised and irritated. There are great many things we know in life – not everything need to get added with precision.

The most funny in this category is when people include MS Office (word, excel, powerpoint), and using windows XP (unless you have done some inside-the-os-programming). Windows XP is designed such that even a moron can operate it, so if you are saying that’s your achievement ,…. you know what it means!

7. Personnel details –

Usually, not very often, but few people write their CTC, etc. in resume. This should not be made public. Your resume is read by many who are not your direct boss and not even your potential employer. Most often, when you tell CTC before people have evaluated you, puts you with a bias in the interview one way or the other.

Many people write Languages known : “Hindi, English, Marathi/Gujarati” Most often this is always the last line of the resume. I guess we were told this when we were in school and obediently following the ritual. Yes, If you know Japanese of French – and you expect that this can be a good strength in dealing with on-site customer handling, that is great, in that case, it should be somewhere in the beginning as included part of the strengths.

Amongst most funny things – is i know that passport number of so many people! I have seen so many resumes who’s phone numbers have mistakes or altered but i guess there is no mistake in their passport number! Why in the world would i care about your passport number?

8. The soul of the resume.

The crux of any resume or the recruitment is: Capability, Relevance, Purpose, and Focus.

Is the person really wants to get in to the job i am crafting ? Does this job really makes sense to the person and does the person fits in the position? Does she/he have potential to beat the challenges which are inherent in the job? And does the person has right strength in terms of capability and personal trait?

When we crowd the resume with so many irrelevant information- it shows our insecurity that we don’t want to stay missed out from any possible opportunity. But in the process, it only de-emphasis what constitutes ones’ key strength and eventually puts you on a weaker list. Most importantly does it tell me if you are unique?

It is always the synergy between the profile and the job that excites the recruiter not the chronology of your life events; This can only be communicated when you put right emphasis towards the goal for your next job – and what makes you deserve that. It does mean many people won’t waste their time on job opportunities that are not for you. But that’s a good thing.

Dipan.

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4 thoughts on “How (not) to write Resumes

  1. Good that you are not in to evluating the proposals from various companies. I get a proposal which is 100 page thick and the 50 pages in the proposals is Resumes of the key people with one resume of atleast 10 pages!!!

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