What makes a ‘stand-out’ resume?

Today I am going to give some pointers on and bust some myths about writing a stand-out resume. Let me share an example from my own experience. I had just arrived in India after working for one year in Singapore. At that point in time, I was looking to apply to some niche opportunities in the social development sector in the country. I came to know that Naukri.com was offering a premium resume re-writing service. I got on call with the sales agent from Naukri, and in a short time, I became convinced to try out this service. That was  a decision that I came to regret very soon.

The resume that Naukri’s writers crafted for me was absolutely horrendous. It was over-loaded and full of multi-coloured graphics. The text within the graphics (such as the ‘Education’ timeline) was barely legible. A whole bunch of ‘keywords’ were used in my resume. Honestly, the whole thing looked like a big joke. I spoke about my apprehensions with the resume writer, albeit in a much more diplomatic way. On hearing my concerns, the writer  convinced me that this was indeed what worked in the market these days. This resume, she said, would distinguish me from the crowd. Though I was not entirely happy, I applied to a few places with this version of the resume.

I converted an interview call with a major social impact venture from Mumbai. In my interview with the Finance Director, who was an IIM A grad, he told me quite frankly that he was absolutely baffled by my resume and that it made no sense to him. Needless to say, I stopped using that resume for further applications. Although I went on to eventually land this position, I did not take it up. Instead, I would like to, from my subsequent and rich personal and professional experience share insights into what makes a good resume. So, here goes:

  1. Make it a one pager, or max to max, a two pager.
  2. Write a customised and a very personal covering letter. A good covering letter is what will incentivise your potential employers to even open the resume.
  3. Write a mission statement/objective to give a brief snapshot of your professional experience and stand-out personal qualities before entering into the actual details.
  4. Include  a good, personable picture in your resume.
  5. Don’t merely describe what you have done at your previous job in passive voice. Instead, highlight key skills and achievements in active voice.

So, there you have it folks. Five ways, in a nutshell, to help you create a stand-out resume that’ll help you distinguish yourself from hordes of other people in this highly competitive job-market. If you would like to get detailed advice and customised guidance on writing a cover letter and creating a stand-out resume, write to me at akanksha@sortinghatcreative.com. Have a great week ahead!

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