Write a Resume that Makes Your Phone Ring - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Write a Resume that Makes Your Phone Ring

Sep 08, 2015


A resume is a document that will always be work in progress (WIP). As you grow in your career, you realise that what you said at the start changes dramatically 10-15 years down the line.

You are now much more than the sum of your experiences and achievements. You are an entity - the star of your movie, or career - and the way you project or market yourself has to adapt to the current market's demands.

You have to include skills that are relevant, use new-age words, and move beyond just stating your educational background and years of work. You must now personalise each experience and describe your contributions to the various companies you've worked with.

A resume is a living document that you should update - in letter and spirit - every year of your professional career.

Of course, there may come a time when you're at such a top position that you don't even need a resume any more, and a brief profile note on you should do. But even a profile note needs updating, needs to be made interesting, and needs to be packed with all your recent accolades and career highlights.

While you may be tempted to use some of the templates available online, I would strongly recommend you don't. And I'll tell you why: Templates are just outlines... They are skeletons without a soul... If you have to breathe life into your resume, you have to ensure every word in it represents you - as authentically and creatively as possible.

Research shows that employers take less than seven seconds to assess a resume. In seven seconds, there is little chance that they will read in detail all of your accomplishments and qualifications. They are scanning for what makes you unique, your 'you-ness'... That's what will add value to their company.

Source: Tashatuvango / Shutterstock

They are not looking for a spare part to fit into the larger machinery. They are looking for a human resource who can take their enterprise to a new level... They are looking for superstars, self-starters, and all-rounders....

Sound like adjectives you can't live up to or project? Well, in my view, it's just a question of your perception... and sometimes perception can quickly change with a little introspection and analysis. Here's how...

Search for keywords

The best way to find words that describe your key skills is to think of all the words associated with what you do. This can take in to account current skills you have already used in your career - such as marketing, team building, customer relationship management, financial analysis - as well as 'power' words that instantly attract employers, such as leadership, target-driven, impact analysis, etc.

The keywords you choose go into defining who you are. They tell the employer exactly what you know and who you want to be.  The jargon you use should be specific to your industry, but it should be more specific to you, because skills can eventually be put to use in any line of work.

Define your objective

Most resumes begin with an objective, and while some experts are of the view that it can restrict your opportunities or bracket you in one kind of job role, many feel it's the very DNA of your resume. I personally believe it serves well as your own vision-mission statement.

A good way of approaching it is to ideate your ultimate career vision and incorporate it with the tools, or skills, you have to achieve it. Here is a sample objective for a research analyst: To undertake cutting-edge research in the world of finance by using my astute analytical abilities, power of comprehension, and superior presentation skills.

Highlight your contributions

This is probably the most important part of your resume. It's also the most overlooked. This is probably because most of us are too modest to blow our own trumpet. So instead we play safe and talk about a project or an organization and neglect to include the role we played in it. It's necessary that you highlight what your contributions were.

If you were responsible for increasing revenues, say it. If you were responsible for a merger and undertook all the due diligence for it, now is not the time to be humble. Your potential future employer wants to know what you are capable of. And if you don't tell them, who will? Besides, such information will also help you drive a harder bargain when you negotiate your salary. 

List only the big jobs

If you've been through many jobs and don't know which ones to put in, omit or gloss over, because they're making your resume too long, here are some you can leave out or not put too much emphasis on:

Any job that you've done for less than six months. It can show instability and it can also show a bad career move... Best to avoid what you didn't spend much time on anyway.
A job that didn't significantly add to your career skills or income bracket. If it's something you did just to get by or keep you busy while waiting for the next big jump, it won't make a difference in the eyes of the next employer.
A job that you've left in a huff and likely won't provide references... Angry bosses can stay that way for a long time!

Tabulate your qualifications

Your educational qualifications are just facts. Don't stress about how to present them. Simply put them in a table with the correct year of graduation, the name of the institute/s, the subject of specialization, and any other highlights. And please don't ever go back all the way to your school days... You can start with graduation or a diploma course or any other certification that is relevant to the job.

Customise your cover letter

A cover letter should be specific to the company and job you're applying to, and it should clearly answer these two questions:

  1. Why are you a good fit for the role?
  2. Why is the company right for you?

To answer these questions, research, research, research... Understand the company's vision and culture, and show how your qualities and skills are suited to it.

Break away from convention

The best part of resume writing is that you can bring your own flavour to every aspect of it. If you're an illustrator, draw something. If you're a writer, use effective and creative language... maybe even add a poem or a few favourite lines from your blogs or articles. If you're a photographer, insert your most stunning shot.

Don't be afraid to be edgy, quirky, or fun. Remember: resumes are a marketing tool for you and your skillset... and effective marketing will inspire 'a call to action'.

In the case of a resume, you want the person reading it to pick up the phone and call you. So dust off that old resume. Consider how you can make it more attractive... both in terms of words and design. Then sit back and wait for the phone to ring.


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4 Responses to "Write a Resume that Makes Your Phone Ring"


01 Nov, 2015

A commendable article I must say. Simple, effective and to the point techniques. Thanks for sharing Ritika.

Syed Moosa

27 Oct, 2015

Realy nice article. Resume is undoubtedly most improtant part of professional career.Thanks for such a nice article

Raghuveer Singh Rathore

09 Sep, 2015

Ma'am Ritika, How should I react ......Oooooo Laaalaaaaaa !! O' my God ....... what a invaluable & teaching article of all times you have written ..... Practical & Convincing approach. This article will continue winning hearts of many literates undoubtedly. All growing up persons day by day whether in their 20s,30s,40s, or 50s should save & store this article "Write a Resume That Makes Your Phone Ring" and make it a habit to go through it at least one in a week. Hats off to you for writing such a memorable article. With great warmth, RS Rathore


08 Sep, 2015

Good Article. Resume is the most difficult activity to complete any day as the next day you feel it's outdated. Really valuable points have been mentioned that needs to be well managed in a resume.


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