Crafting your path to success

Designing a good professional resume highlighting your qualifications, experience, and skills is a vital step in securing your dream job. A resume is equivalent to a print ad where you are the product being advertised. Here are the important steps and components that go into designing a high-quality professional resume which will give you an edge in the job market:

1. Understand the job profile and the company/industry in which you are applying: This is very important since you can’t have the same resume sent to different companies without tweaking the contents of your resume to suit the particular job requirement in the company you are applying in. By tweaking, I mean highlighting certain experiences and projects you have worked on which are more suitable to the job and the industry you are applying in.


2. Handwritten vs printed: A handwritten resume in today’s day and age is a strict no. While this advice would seem very trivial for a lot of readers, in my experience dealing with young professionals, I have seen a number of handwritten resumes which just don’t cut the ice.


3. Document format: In terms of font style, it is always safer to opt for Times Roman, Arial, Calibri or Georgia. The font size should be standard and should be between 10-12. The spacing between the lines should be between 1–1.5. Ideally, keep a 1-inch margin on both sides of the document and justify the entire content of the resume so that the right side is all aligned in one straight line.


4. Resume design format: Depending on the stage of your career you can choose one of the following design formats:

a) Chronological resume: This format is ideal for experienced professionals who have worked over the years without taking any significant breaks in between. In this format, your work experience is presented in reverse chronological order (from the latest to the earliest – date-wise).

b) Functional resume: This format works better for young professionals with no prior work experience or for those individuals who have had very small stints in organisations with long breaks in between. In this format, the resume will focus on skills and qualifications over work experience.

c) Combination resumes: For professionals with a few years of work experience, a combination resume which combines a chronological and a functional resume works the best. Such a resume will provide the work experience in a reverse chronological order and the skills and qualifications in a functional format.


5. Header: The top header on the first page of your resume should prominently feature your full name, phone number, address, and email ID. Do ensure that your email ID sounds professional. I have personally come across a large number of resumes, especially of young graduating students with atrocious IDs like punkrocker, sexydude, sweetgirl, stoned4life to sample a few.


6. Objective statement: After the header, include a well-thought-out career objective statement that provides a brief well-articulated summary of your career goals. Ensure that you change it from time to time to suit the specific job and the company you are applying in.


7. Professional experience: After the career objectives, comes the most important part of your resume which is the details of your professional work experience. Use the following guidelines to make the maximum impact:

a) Bullet points: Use bullet points to highlight your experience and achievements. This helps in separating important parts and improves overall readability.

b) Quantify achievements: It’s always more impactful if you highlight your past performance through stats and numbers wherever possible. For example, if you have been in sales, provide details of your sales achievements through statements that provide numbers like; “Exceeded annual sales quota by an average of 20% for the past three years, resulting in a total revenue increase of Rs.35 lakhs”.

c) Action verbs: Start sentences using action verbs like “managed”, “negotiated”, “organised”, “led”, “accomplished”, etc.


8. Education qualifications: The work experience section is followed by your education qualifications. It’s important to highlight the major educational landmarks starting from your topmost degree till SSC. Ensure that for each educational landmark, you provide details of the year and the university/institution through which the same has been achieved. Mention the performance only if it’s worth highlighting. Also, do note that with higher level of work experience, the importance of educational qualification diminishes. With more years of work experience, you can omit the SSC and HSSC details and highlight only your top degrees.


9. Other skills: Below your educational qualifications, create a separate section to showcase your hard skills like IT proficiency with certifications in various programming languages. You can also highlight the soft skills you possess like leadership, teamwork and communication.


10.  Personal information: This is the last part of the resume which should provide information like your gender, languages spoken, hobbies, membership to professional organisations if any and social work you have done beyond your professional requirements. References may be provided at the end or you could simply state that references will be provided on request. Ideal references should be credible like your former boss, teacher or a client you have served.


11. Check for errors and seek feedback: Be sure to proofread your resume for any possible spelling and grammatical errors. Finally, before submitting your resume, seek feedback from your colleagues and seniors. Try and incorporate feedback which you feel will add value to your resume. Do ensure that you have not lied in your resume since you could severely damage your career if caught lying. If in doubt one can seek help from a professional career coach to design a well-crafted resume.

(The writer has a PhD and is a career counsellor, trainer, and life coach at Career Crafters- Panaji. He has over two decades of experience dealing with students at the higher education level.)