Recession proof your resume now


A ‘perfect’ resume too cannot guarantee a job. But during the current slowdown, it does play a vital role as hiring managers as opposed to the ‘good’ times are scrutinizing and extensively analyzing it to keep bad hires at bay. Picture these two kinds of resumes…a salesman (with eight years of experience) submits a two-pager resume, with an executive summary of his career and details of his employment in reverse chronological order.

The achievements were all mentioned in terms of difference they made to the company with respect to revenues and profitability. As opposed to this, the next one was just a one-pager (experts say that it’s not a bad idea); the candidate, in this case had nine years of professional experience out of which he had skipped almost five years of professional information; it raised a lot of questions in the mind of the recruiter: was the candidate not sure of what he had done? why try and hide?

For Ajay Trehan, founder and CEO, AuthBridge who had to encounter the above two situations, the decision was quite simple; the former made it to the interview stage while the latter didn’t.

“Resumes that breathe fresh air with candid representation of facts and figures with high clarity are potentially ones that command an extra edge,” – Prashant Bhatnagar, director hiring, Sapient India Trehan gives a step-by-step procedure to make your resume stand out especially during the current times:

Step1: it should start with a clear statement of what kind of role it is meant for,

Step 2: it should then have a small section that summarizes key achievements and skills (preferably in that order),

Step 3: this should be followed by a summary of organizations, roles and period where the person has worked followed by a summary of his/her educational qualifications. These are the only things that the first page should contain and

Step 4: There can be at the most another two pages to the resume – one section with employment details (one liner about the company you worked for, 2-3 lines about your responsibilities you handled and 3-4 line on your achievements, should be mentioned), another section for any specific projects or assignments you were involved in and an extra section on training programs attended are vital pieces of information that hiring managers pay special attention to.

Prashant Bhatnagar, director hiring, Sapient India also believes that resumes listing a strong ‘statement of purpose’ with a compelling vision attached to one’s own career supported by past accomplishments showcase a candidate’s commitment.

“Resumes that breathe fresh air with candid representation of facts and figures with high clarity are potentially ones that command an extra edge. Conflicting or partial featuring of data should be avoided; experience summary should be articulated to perfection to enable the recruiter reviewing the resume to envisage the skill capability of the individual. Resumes should always be written in active voice and past tense,” says Bhatnagar.

A well written resume which highlights career progression and significant accomplishments in a way that allows recruiters to verify the tenacity of claims with help from underlying details and rationale provided in the resume would be a great factor to weed out resumes that are ‘all fluff’. T Sreedhar, MD, TMI Network talks about resumes that have completely put him off:

1) A fifteen pages of a resume with details of every job that he had done, starting with his first job instead of starting with his latest job (no one is keen to know what he did 15 years ago),

2) A resume demanding for a 40 to 50% increase in compensation as a standard pre requisite for moving to the next role (even if he does not deserve it!) and

3) a resume that demonstrates the candidate as a job hopper, are different versions of resumes, ought to be rejected by recruiters. Shantanu Banerjee, director-HR, Steria India concludes by narrating instances wherein he describes resumes of two antithetical versions that influenced his hiring decision.

There was a candidate who had taken pains to explore the organization and addressed on the cover note how he could help to address that pain area. The resume was also perfectly written to and all his achievements were backed with adequate information and data. On the other hand, he received a resume that had a cover letter addressed to another organization. Which category do you want to fall into? Tweaking your old resume to suit new requirements.

Dehade suggests a few quick resume writing tips that would give you an edge over the other candidates during the current recessionary times:

  • If there are gaps between two employments or between education and start of employment, one should not try and cover up by manipulating employment dates or year of passing in the resume, and be honest about the reason for this gap.
  • Deliberately misrepresenting or omitting information in the resume can land you in trouble. It might even adversely affect your entire career! To reiterate, be truthful.
  • All information mentioned in the resume including achievements should be backed with documentary evidence. Inability to produce documents to support what is presented in resumes may adversely affect chances of being selected. Background verification companies verify copies of these documents directly with the verifying/issuing authorities.
  • Along with your relevant work experience and skill sets, highlight your achievements. Provide quantitative data as far as possible.
  • Write a compelling sentence or two on why the company should consider you.

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