How to write a good resume

Resume writing can be a very mundane task for many, specially for the tech breed. Just putting together words describing what they do on a day-to-day basis or what they have done can be a big challenge.

So, how do you write a resume? Here are a few tips and a structure for what to put in place.

  1. Introduce yourself

    What you do when you meet somebody for the first time?
    You Introduce yourself.

    So put in the basics, i.e. your Name and Contact details (phone, email, address). Then you need to summarize yourself in not more than 3 lines. Write about what you do and what you have achieved and what you wish to achieve, use your own words. Use Summary instead of Objective. Objective makes you want push a high level statement, and in most of the resumes I have seen these are either lofty statements which are out of this world or are copy-paste from a standard template some guy wrote about two decades ago.

  2. List out your Achievements

    How do you chose a paperback novel?
    You look at the ratings and reviews at the back of the paperback

    Make a bulleted list of significant milestones and achievements in your career so far. Achievements that talk actual stats in terms of numbers go a long way, than general statements of achievements. You could also include achievements from your education, but put the work-ex first and then your academia.

  3. Summary of Technical, Management and Process Experience

    Can you judge a book by its cover?
    No, but the the index gives me a good peek at whats in it.

    Put in list or table of Technical, Management and Process Knowledge and Experience.

    • Technical Skills / Expertise
      • Mention Technology skill sets that you have expertise or have worked on.
      • Use acronyms but also mention the full names for the technologies where they are still not mainstream.
      • List the ones that you are most proficient with on top.
    • Management Skills
      • Mention Management Roles and Responsibilities handled or capable of handling. examples of skills could be, project costing, co-ordination, people management and so on.
    • Process Expertise
      • Mention Process Areas in which you have experience and you can work on. These are typically Life Cycle related activities, such as design, architecture, validation,…
      • These could also be related to QA and Compliance, i.e. processes for ISO or CMMi Compliance.
  4. Your Work Experience

    So what have you really done?
    Well, this is for you to answer.

    Follow a defined format – for the companies list and the projects list. You may give a summary of the companies and then a separate section on projects, but ideally, I would want to look at company and projects at that company. These are some of the attributes for companies and projects that you should have

    • Company
      • Company Name
      • Location
      • Designation
      • Duration
      • Description of the company (2~3 lines – Optional)
    •  Projects
      • Project Name
      • Client
      • Project Duration
      • Team Size
      • Roles and Responsibilities
      • Challenges / Achievements (Optional)
      • Technology Environment and Tools used
      • Project Description (Describe the project and not the client.)
  5. Academics
    Academics are important for an employer to understand the learning capability and your performance over a period of time. Here a standard format would include

    • Institution, Location
    • University
    • Graduation Type
    • Year of Graduation
    • Marks secured
    • Specialization (Optional)
  6. Extra Curricular Activities
    These can add value in certain jobs where the person is expected to take on multiple responsibilities. Don’t mention the run-of-the-mill activities which you don’t really perform. Rather use this to talk about your interest and serious hobbies.
  7. Personal Details
    These are pretty much standard and would have your Sex, Date of Birth, Nationality, Languages Known, Passport Numbers, PAN or Tax Numbers, Address.
  8. Read what you have written

    How do you to ensure quality?
    You test the output.

    Read your resume completely from the first letter to the very last. Read it every-time, when you prepare it, when you edit it, and every-time before you send it out.

General Guidelines

  1. Most Recent On Top and Most Important On Top
    • Always list experience, projects and academic certification, in reverse chronological order. i.e. most recent company on top, with earlier companies following it. Same applies for listing of projects and academics.
    • In case of skills, technologies, management and process areas of expertise, mention the most important ones or the ones you are most proficient with, first.
  2. Keywords and Technology
    All Keywords and Technologies that you have knowledge or expertise of need to be mentioned in the resume, this an important part for both search and visual validation while somebody screens your resume.
  3. Check Spellings
    Spelling mistakes are the most neglected part in many resumes, spelling mistakes are an eyesore. Make sure your read every word in your resume carefully. With all the document editors having robust spell checking options, it should be easy.
  4. Format is very important
    • Mark your headings – use bold, caps, band,… anything to make the headings more prominent
    • Consistent Fonts – Use a single font throughout with variations in font size, styling and color.
    • Separate sections with a line, space or heading so that its easy to view.
    • Align all the lines
    • A comma has no space before it, and always has a space after it.

With this, you must have an outline of where to start and end with.

Happy job hunting!