Writing a Good Resume

It’s been said that writing a resume brings as much delight as filing an income tax form.

Most people write one because its part of the process in seeking out a job with a prospective employer or in working with a headhunter. Having said that, a great resume is the first step to being surfaced as a candidate in a short list, or to get into the headhunters ‘level 1 cache’ – the top candidates that’s always fresh in the mind of the headhunter.

A resume is not really a history of one’s career but the goal is to communicate how you can add value to the prospective company – and to get to the next step, which will be an interview. It should generate interest and create in the reader the desire to probe further, rather than have it end up in a database only to be surfaced when the correct key words are matched.

So what are the areas that one looks out for, speaking from a headhunter’s perspective. I would think that an in-house recruitment specialist also look for approximately the same areas.

Bearing in mind that search companies are engaged to seek out the best, we would want to know that the candidate is a top achiever, and out of a group of candidates, he or she is easily identifiable as the ‘winner’.

Most CVs contains an executive summary or for some, a covering letter summarizing the candidate’s profile. Most time, it’s a general description of the capabilities, skills with some career history. What would be most useful is to be specific about the areas of interest, career goals. It is best to be honest and straightforward – do not throw in too many nebulous marketing jargons and phrases – so that the reader does not have to filter these to get to the key critical experiences and competencies. It is useful to be targeted in the role and career aspirations, while leaving some leeway for flexibility.

The other area that most CVs neglect to highlight is the achievements and accomplishments area. The headhunter’s wish, and indeed the client’s, would be to see a good list of accomplishments with quantifiable targets achieved, savings made through initiatives, percentages in revenue, profit or market share growth. This makes the profile more appealing to the Client – and one can easily identify these with the KPIs that successful candidate will be measured on eventually. Focus on the results that have been delivered.

Short of a impressive list of achievements, providing 2 or 3 references at the end of the CV will help greatly, especially if the references are well known in the industry and they are willing to vouch for your credentials and character. It does give a sense of how well connected you are and also that these people are willing to ‘stand up’ for you when approached.

In some cases, there could be short career stints – both the prospective employer and the headhunter will be very curious about the reasons for the moves. It can conjure negative connotations that you are a job hopper, or have being asked to move on for performance reasons if not clarified. Rather than be asked, have a couple of liners that explain the reasons for these moves. One candidate I had had the unfortunate experience of short stays of 6 month each in 3 companies, and on clarifying, 2 were restructured, and 1 was because the company was bought over. The Client who is in the market is aware of the circumstances, understood the reasons for the move and eventually hired the candidate.

Do invest some effort when crafting your resume – it will pay off.


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