How to write an effective resume

Resumes can often stir negative feelings & anxiety among jobseekers. Having to create one can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be this bad though.

There are some high-level guidelines you could follow regardless of the specific requirements of your country or industry.

  • The first one is obvious! Use bulleted lists instead of long paragraphs. This article too attempts to do just that 😉. It is easier to catch relevant information when presented in a neat, concise manner.

  • Craft a professional headline that summarises you - sort of an elevator pitch. This would appear right under your name. So it’s one of the first things anyone would see and should give the reader a reason to read further. This also means you would need to tweak it depending on the role you’re eyeing.

  • Highlight your skills, especially the ones that are directly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Wherever possible, use the same keywords as mentioned in the job post. This will make your resume more relatable even at the first glance.

Crisp and effective resume Create a crisp and effective resume

  • Customizing resumes is a MUST to ensure you get shortlisted. Write your resume for both automated screening process and humans. While elaborating your experiences, go beyond just using keywords that are mentioned in the job description. The ATS may do a semantic match to identify related terms. For example, not just ‘Python developer’ but also backend.

  • Can’t stress this enough - don’t confuse your responsibilities (job description) with your achievements (impact). For the latter, mention how your skills and actions at work created a measurable impact on your projects and stakeholders. It would be good to quantify the impact but don’t worry if you can’t. For example:

Responsibilites Achievements
Worked on streamlining data capture Minimized errors by 30% by improving data capture fields for users
Developed ABC front-end application Built ABC application with Node.js, Angular, React, Vue to support 1000+ mobile users
Executed marketing campaigns Developed SEO strategies based on MOZ analytics and implemented across 3 selected channels
  • It’s great that we no longer have to submit hard copies of our resume, printed on A4 paper when we apply for jobs. Online submission allows us to expand the scope of our resumes. Add links to your portfolio, GitHub, LinkedIn, personal website or anything else on the internet that showcases your past work.

  • Give any additional info that can benefit your application further - certifications, courses, languages. Don’t go too overboard with certifications and courses. Keep them strictly relevant. Most of us take up online courses every now and then but they may not be applicable for the role at hand.

  • Your resume should contain your contact information for the hiring manager to get in touch with you. There are primarily two ways a hiring manager could contact you in this century - via email or phone. Every other means is optional. In fact, providing your full address is outdated. However, your current location / city may be relevant if you are not applying for remote jobs.

  • Present your resume in the right way: It’s easy for recruiters to get tired of seeing similar, drab resume styles over and over again. After all, a recruiter typically receives hundreds (sometimes thousands) of resumes for every job post. In contrast, when they see a resume in a style they’ve never seen before, it would show them that you have actually put some thought and effort into not only the content but also the presentation of your resume.

  • Keep it simple and use the right visual hierarchy and colours to highlight the most important parts of your resume. Of course, exceptional cases are when there are specific guidelines on the format one must use in their resumes.

Keeping these points in mind, go ahead and give your resume a try!