As your career evolves, so should your resume.
Senior and mid-level executives applying for jobs need to periodically revamp their old resumes in order to best showcase their experience and skills.
However, including years of experience in just two pages â ‘ as most recruiters recommend â ‘ can be quite challenging once you’re well into your career. One way to do this is to highlight only your key achievements over the years, rather than all tasks performed by you. At the same time, be precise and crisp.
Here are some tips from recruiters on how to spruce up your resume so that you get the interview call.
1. Refrain from telling all: Recruiters typically spend only a few minutes looking at a resume, so don’t cram yours with every detail of your working life.
Prospective employers are most interested in your recent achievements, so detail only the last five or 10 years of work. The rest can be summarized.
Keep your educational details to a minimum. If you have more than a decade of experience, it might be enough to name the schools where you completed your postgraduate studies.
More detailed discussions about your experience and education can always take place during the interview.
2. Achievements first: Instead of listing your experience in chronological order, it’s a good idea to highlight your achievements upfront. Start with just three to six significant accomplishments before getting into other details, says Ben Hawkes, who is based in London for human capital management firm Kenexa.
Pay attention to how you describe your achievements.
Rather than writing your responsibilities or a title, explain what you accomplished in the role. Your impact on the company in terms of ‘numbers, figures and data is what we are looking for,’ says Ashit Ranjan, vice president of human resources at Tecnova India Pvt., a management consulting firm.
Avoid using abstract phrases like ‘Worked for the largest division of the company,’ which just leaves the employer wondering how large the division was. Consider saying something like: ‘Led a business whose net worth was 10 billion rupees ($224 million),’ or ‘Grew the net worth of a business from 4 billion to 7 billion rupees [$89 million to $156 million] within 18 months.’
Vague information can be annoying for a recruiter.
3. Mind your language: If you think that describing yourself as an independent thinker, honest or hard-working will impress recruiters, think again. In fact, they might be tempted to think you don’t have significant achievements to talk about.
So, let your accomplishments describe you.
When writing these, use short sentences and phrases. This not only helps save space but also makes the resume an easy read.
To make more of an impact, experts suggest starting your sentences with a verb. Instead of writing ‘I was responsible forâ ¦,’ write ‘Formulated strategyâ ¦’ or ‘Raised financesâ ¦’.
Finally, don’t forget to run a spell-check before sending your resume.
4. Don’t overstyle it: It’s important to get the right font and font size on your resume.
Recruiters advise using simple fonts like Arial and Times New Roman and avoiding fancy or casual ones like Comic Sans MS as they may come across as unprofessional.
An 11 or 12-point size makes for comfortable reading, says Mr. Hawkes. Anything smaller leads to a cluttered resume, while a larger font can turn off your prospective employer.
In general, don’t capitalize, bold, highlight or use color on your resume, says Uday Sodhi, chief executive officer at Headhonchos.com, a job search portal for senior level executives. Some recruiters, however, say that using bond font for sub-heads is okay.
5. Limit personal details: Don’t include too many personal details like birth date, citizenship, marital status, religion or other family information, unless the employer has asked for it. Ideally your resume should only have your ‘name, address, mobile number and email address as personal details,’ says Mr. Sodhi.
A word of caution: make sure you have a respectable email address. ‘Don’t put email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org,’ says Mr. Ranjan, because these appear unprofessional.
If you are active on networking Web sites like LinkedIn or Twitter, you can include those links on your resume. These help ‘showcase your references and can show how well-networked you are,’ says Mr. Ranjan.
But make sure that you are comfortable with your online profile and that it does not ‘have anything that contradicts your resume,’ says Mr. Hawkes.
6. A ‘Career Objective’ is Optional: Stating a career objective in your resume is up to you, say recruiters.
If you do plan to include it, make sure that it is clear and relevant. Don’t say something vague like ‘I want to have a management position,’ or something outlandish like ‘I want to be a CEO in 5 years,’ if you have just a few years of experience.
Some recruiters suggest writing a brief description of yourself, rather than a career objective. You could say something like: ‘An IT professional with 15 years of experience’
7. Beyond the office: If you are a senior professional with more than 10 years of experience, don’t spend too much time highlighting your extracurricular activities and hobbies, say experts.
Instead, elaborate on your industry associations or initiatives with groups like the Confederation of Indian Industry, software industry association NASSCOM, and other recognized groups, says Mr. Sodhi. This shows that you are well-networked and an active member of your industry.