Why does it important to build a resume in the first place? What is the right way? Is it the same everywhere and for everyone?
Before jumping in to answer these questions, let's understand what does resume even means.
The resume is a summary or a short form of curriculum vitae (CV) which means "course of life" in Latin. So, it is a comprehensive overview of professional or educational history. Unlike a CV, the resume will only contain recent professional highlights in short notes.
Back to the original question, why is it important to build a resume?
Imagine buying a T-shirt. But, instead of looking at it yourself, based on what shopkeeper tell you, how this T-shirt will look like, what design it has, what cloth material it is, what size it is, and how it would fit you, will you be able to make a buying decision based on how the shopkeeper described it?
Though you cannot try the T-shirt on you, how about taking a look at it yourself? How about taking a peek into its designs and touch and feel the quality of the material?
Even e-commerce sites have some sample images, descriptions, specifications, and reviews from previous buyers to convince you.
I hope, you got my point here.
A resume is a tool to showcase your skills, valuable experiences, and academic background. It will make the potential employer take a justified hiring decision based on the provided information to understand how your individual contribution or leadership skills can contribute to the organization's success. Having a strong resume is what will set you apart from the competition.
Let's jump next to how it can be written in the right way.
The factors to consider before writing each section will let you decide what would be a suitable structure, what's important to include, and what can be skipped on your resume.
With all the best practices considered, you will eventually get to the point of building the resume in the right way, for you.
What are the factors that need to be considered?
That's true. It completely depends on what information do you want to fill in your resume. You may or may not want to highlight specific information such as academic results in the irrelevant area, certifications, photograph of yourself, references, personal information, and so on.
But, let's see if they should really be optional for a better resume.
No, they may not necessarily be easy to make those decisions. Target geography, type of industry, the culture of the targeting company, and a few other factors need to be considered before adding or removing some information and structuring it.
Are the ways resume built, same across different countries?
It is definitely not the same way. But, some structures are followed the same way in many countries.
For example, including the photograph is a matter of choice in South-East Asia and some other Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
But, it is recommended to include it in the resume and most of the employers expect it from the candidates' resume in Europe. Also, it is preferred to use CV over a resume for some European countries.
It is recommended to avoid photographs in the US as it may lead to bias based on racial preferences.
So, the deep analysis of the geography has to be done before building your resume depending on your target country or region to avoid any biases and follow their cultural practices to attract the employer by showcasing your fit for the position.
Are the ways resume built, same for every industry?
You know the answer, of course, it is not the same standard across different industries.
Some sections might be relevant for a particular industry and may not be relevant for the other, which is the reason why there's a variety in the resume standards.
For example, in the case of the Software Engineer resume, you may include information on certifications on some technologies, participation in hackathons, most challenging software designs, open-source contribution, and some big failures. If you may take up a Sales professional career, you may highlight some of the deals closed, challenging prospects, winning over a big competitor, and some numbers like recurring revenue, total revenue, and lifetime value of the customers from the deals you have closed.
The abstraction is the same even though the details might vary.
So, let's jump into the point.
What information to add in your resume regardless of geography and industry?
- Fullname, email id, phone number should be added to notify the best way to contact you.
- Gender - It can be added if you wish. Anyway, it can most-probably be guessed from your full name.
- Age and Marital status - Again, it is your preference. It will help recruiters best guess the fit for the job if added.
- Sexual orientation - Need not to mention unless the target company has diversity policies that may add benefit to you and you think it is safe.
- Address - Your local address can be added. In case of the absence of a local address, the permanent address can be added. Never forget to add province/state and country along with the addresses.
- Nationality - It is must-needed information if case you're in a foreign country or the target country is different.
Objective or Summary
- Ideal resume should have it.
- This should answer what are you looking for, from your new job.
- It may be your technical or non-technical skills depending on your industry.
- Only highlight the skills that wish to continue work on.
- It should be in reverse-chronological order. Keep it super-short. This should have the appropriate skills used and learned for the relevant job. * The description should have outcomes (mostly, in numbers) instead of the objectives and responsibilities.
- It should be in reverse-chronological order, as well.
- Prefer mentioning only the relevant studies or major educational milestones. For example, Ph.D., post-graduate, under-graduate, and other studies that are equivalent to a degree can be added here.
Social and professional handles
- Social network profiles and listing can be added to showcase your personal branding if they are career-oriented or professional.
- Add the major relevant certifications along with the motivation of you to do the same.
- If they have a verifiable link, provide them as well.
- Add the projects that you have done which are not part of your work. It can be a side-hustle, passion project, and even a hackathon project.
- Even add the projects that you've worked in a minor part with the highlight of your work on it.
- It might be so intimidating to add your entertainment category of hobbies here. But, say a strict NO for them.
- Remember to add only the relevant hobbies for the role that you apply. For example, blogging would be a relevant hobby for technical writer role and marketing roles, competitive coding for software engineers, and reading books would be a fit for any roles. 📚 ❤️
Prefer designing the resume if you can. A plain resume would also be fine if they are crisp and clear.
Styles - Use bold and italic styles wherever appropriate. But, do not overdo it.
Fonts - Do not introduce more than two font families.
Colors - It sometimes depends on the company and its culture and interests on the casual to the professional level.
There are some color themes are preferred in the market such as,
Mono-color: One color shade with different hues used.
Triadic: Three different colors in the color wheel with equal distance chosen to attract eyes. This may stand out when compared with other resumes because it may look crazy. So, it is not recommended for a traditional professional role.
Complementary color palettes: Using two opposite colors in the color wheel throughout the resume.
Whatever you choose, make sure the end resume still looks professional. Send the resume as PDFs to make sure all your efforts on the looks were the same when the recruiters see.
What can be preferred to skip?
- Typically one page is enough unless you have more than 7 years of experience. In that case, two pages maximum. Be mindful that recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at your resume.
- Do not clutter the details. Exceptionally, you can extend the pages if needed.
- Do not use paragraphs. Always use bullet points that will help skim through the details quickly.
- It is not needed most of the time. You can add if you wish and think it will give more confidence to you and the recruiter for some profession.
- Beware that you might be judged with it in some regions in Asia and the United States, it may even go up to lower priority in opportunity and rejections.
- Unconsciously you might have over-used some words repeatedly.
- Try to be clever to find new synonyms and enrich your phrases with similar words but not the same.
- Just month and year will do. Do not attach date in any details such as date-of-birth, education, experience, certification, courses, and so on.
- Some irrelevant hobbies would even backfire for you. So, do not include entertainment and lazy activities and other irrelevant hobbies.
- It might sound funny. I have found grammatical mistakes and typos in some of my friends' resumes and candidates applied for interviews.
- Use grammatical checker tools like Grammarly.
So far, we have seen how the resume can be written in the right way by considering the factors listed above.
Let's see what are the other ways to showcase your profile to the employer rather than writing a resume which has these many struggles.
Other ways to showcase skills and experiences:
This is famous across many industries from software engineering and bloggers to fashion and photography.
- You can alternatively go with a portfolio site that will showcase all the above details with some interactive page rather than a two-page static content. It can also be attached along with the resume.
- It has some advantage of making it an awesome experience from creative designs to cool way of interactivity on the webpage.
- This can have many pages and a list of portfolio highlights without boring the recruiter.
- It can be maintained with real-time updated data to see, though applied for jobs a few days or weeks before.
Professional and social networks
- You can build and maintain some of your professional and social profiles and use them to highlight your works and activities.
- LinkedIn, Medium, GitHub, Pinterest, Dribble, and Product Hunt are some of the social profiles used as resumes.
- Sometimes, this may not be strong enough to send to the recruiters without a resume.
- A resume or a cover letter or both can be attached together to go as a perfect profile showcase kit.
Some of the samples of resumes
- Mine - ravirajsubramanian.github.io I have not used this for any career change, so it was experimental when I built and may not be updated now. I wish to keep it updated always and it gets postponed due to some of my side-project that I never complete. 😝
- Emma Bostian - https://emmawedekind.com/resume-templates and https://twitter.com/emmabostian/status/1235154752700375041
Sample portfolio sites