Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Education | Interests | Community Involvement – Wrapping up your resume on a strong note

          Hope you are doing well! Over the last few weeks, we covered the essentials of resume building using the now-famous S.T.A.R. approach and laid out techniques to build a stellar header, profile summary and work experience section covering about 60% of a 1 pager resume. In this blog, we will discuss the final sections of the resume to complete its framework, keeping them minimal to ensure maximum impact!

The Education Section

Given the nature of this piece, if you have all the information for this segment at hand, it will take no more than 10 minutes to complete this section! All you need are the main facts about your degrees/diplomas and to list them in the order of their importance and you’re done.

If you hold any additional professional certifications such as a C.A or C.F.A, create a separate line for them. Remember, as with everything on here - keep the certifications relevant to the job you are applying to!

High School Details: If you are a fresh grad with minimal work experience (or) have been specifically requested by the company to share these details, include your High School details in this section, in the same format as your Work Experience Section.

To include:
Degree Name
Institution Name
Year of Completion
Your score/GPA or rank, if above average, to add perspective
Awards or accomplishments if any

To avoid:
Detailed descriptions of the degree
Lengthy descriptions of your achievement, project details
Listing all courses completed, credit breakdown

Dropped out/did not complete your degree? Many a times, for whatever reason, students do not complete the requirements to graduate. This can be a scary thing to include, but incomplete education is not the end of the world, especially if you did so to follow your passion. If you did start out on a course, follow the 'Things to include' format but instead of writing the Year of Completion, you can say: Completed 2 years of a 3-year B.A. program 20XX-20YY (and even include a reason if you think it reflects positively/explains the change in plan).

Visually, the Education Section looks like this:

P.S. For those who are recently out of college, don't fall for the temptation of making this your resume’s focus! You can still include and elaborate on any work experience before education. Refer to our previous blog to see how you can either:
Include your internship/volunteer experience prior to this section or,
Grab an internship if possible, if you are in want for some work experience

The Interests and Community Involvement Section

This is the last and final section of your resume, as listed by priority. In this section, you get the chance to:
- Show your personality, interests, and passion beyond work and education
- Display your care for the community

Each interest in this section is best kept to a line. To ensure you convey it’s worth in the limited space, carefully craft your content to highlight what’s important. If not, the contents here could work against you.

1.Interests: When we say interests, I urge you to write something that reflects your softer traits in a positive manner. Premier companies pay close attention to these traits as they showcase your true interests and personality, a desirable aspect.

  • Including the activity with its cause: 'Avid cyclist for ride to conquer cancer' showcases your care for the society
  • Allying out how serious you are: 'Enthusiastic singer training with the legendary Usha Uthup' highlights your creative side
  • Displaying your personal goals: 'Passionate runner training to beat my personal half marathon record' displays your forward thinking mentality
  • 2-time Winning captain of the school football team' focuses on your leadership skills.
 2.Community Involvement: Apart from the above interests, if you have volunteering experience, make sure you include that too! It reflects well on companies if their employees care for the society and it’s a definite asset to your resume. Even if not for the resume, I urge every one of you to go out there and contribute socially in some way. It’s always a win-win-win activity.

Now to structure the above in 1 line, use the following format. Feel free to mix and match based on what you feel is most representative of you.

  • (Use this when you have NO volunteer experience) Half a sentence representing interest 1 | Half a sentence representing interest 2
  • (Use this when you have one interest (or) volunteer work that is very substantial) Full line covering the interest or volunteer work with impact
  • (Use this if you have volunteer experience) Half a sentence representing interest | Half a sentence representing your volunteer work

Pro Tip: Avoid generic interests such as watching TV, reading, playing video games, exercising or vlogging. I’d rather you have more depth in a few interests than breadth. Make your talents or passions interesting with the right amount of detail :) For example: 'Avid reader of autobiographies on a 2 books a month spree’ or 'Entertainment vlogger with 300+ YT subscribers'

P.S. For those who are just out of college and no work experience to your name, except for volunteering activities, skip the volunteering section here and refer to our previous blog to help you call out the volunteering as the focus of your resume.

Aaand.. stick a fork in it, because you are done! With this, you have completed all the sections required for a 1-page resume.

Below are the blogs you can look forward to, to wrap the Resume series before we move to the next section!
  • Visual & formatting best practices to elegantly package your resume, tie a bow on it :)
  • Have a conversation about references and where they can be included
  • Cover letters to maximize your job pursuit
  • Finally, I’d like to share a few important online tools that will come in handy. Thank me later ;)

In the meanwhile, it's time for a quick EXERCISE!

Now that you have your title, summary, and most importantly - your work experience section in place, you are nearly done. Scan your existing resume for any remaining content and organize them into:
  • Education & Professional Development
  • Interests & Community Involvement

If there’s anything that does not fit into the last two categories, it may be time to critically review these items and remove or categorize as necessary. Refer to the blog to keep these sections simple yet effective! Share the completed resume with team@corpversity.xyz to get it evaluated with additional suggestions. You’ll be well on your way to having an impactful resume! For further services, please visit www.corporatereadytest.com/resume and get your complete resume scanned, all for a nominal price!

Stay Tuned!

"Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement. Never be overconfident because that will block your improvement."

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Corporate Ready Test, Corpversity and its Related Ventures are Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Create an unforgettable “Experience” with your resume & make it beyond the recruiter's first nod!

In our last blog, we discussed ways to create a stellar header and a profile section ideally covering the first 20% of your 1 pager resume. In this blog, we progress to the next 40% of your resume and learn how to create an irresistible work experience section.

The key to making an impact with this piece is to go beyond merely listing your past jobs, and structure it so it covers the key areas of context, your contribution, and impact on that job, that the recruiters are looking for. This often covers the job and the and the duties that entailed. Remember, hitting the right keys gets you that much closer to having the recruiter move you up on their YES pile, and even sealing the deal. the more relevant you can make for the recruiter and the interviewers, the better the outcome.

First, the content: Usually, I approach this section using a combination of:
  • Listing my work experience in reverse chronological order (starting with the latest gig first) and
  • Too many to list? Filter in relevant positions to the job you are seeking to stick to the 40% of a 1 pager resume.

For example, if you are applying for a sales job, and have held relevant sales positions in the past, prioritize those in the resume in reverse chronology and de-prioritize jobs you may have had that are irrelevant (e.g. finance or engineering experience in this case).

As with all rules, there are always exceptions to filtering out irrelevant jobs:
  • The job had skills that are transferable, keep it in: For example, if you are applying for a finance job at a bank where your background of data analytics can help, or you were a customer service rep and want to move to a sales job to apply the usefulness of your calling experience, keep it in and highlight the skill that is relevant.
  • If you worked for a very big brand: If it is relevant experience at a big-name company, there is nothing like it. But even if the experience is irrelevant, keep it in to show you know what it’s like to work at a top place, and make sure you have a good story or a reason as to why you are shifting portfolios.
  • If you do not have enough work history in the relevant portfolio: In this case, showcase what you have been up to in other areas, and in addition, ensure you have a good reason for your shifts. Draw some transferable skills from your previous experience regardless of the industry, to make the most of it.

Next, the structure: The Company name, job position/title, projects under them and awards are the basic ingredients of say, a salad. Make this salad tastier (and in my case, edible) by sprinkling it with a special dressing of attributes.

From my sales experience, I’ve learnt that there are 6 main desirable skills or attributes for a sales person in the business. I’d organize everything from resumes to end of quarter evaluations along those skills as all companies look for those very same key attributes in their job portfolio. I highly recommend thoroughly researching the job you are applying for & enrich your resume by inculcating these attributes where it fits best within your experience. They give big hints to your recruiter on your experience's relatability and transferability to the new role you are applying for and ultimately makes it easier for them to connect the dots.

Tossing the above together will give you (in reverse chronological order):

Company                   Dates: When you worked in the company (right hand)
Position 1: 2 lines with numerical impact            Dates: When you worked in the role (right hand)

Select Projects/Contributions
Project 1: 1 to 2 lines with numerical impact using S.T.A.R (with desired attributes weaved into the sentences)
Project 2: 1 to 2 lines with numerical impact using S.T.A.R (with desired attributes weaved into the sentences)

Select Awards
Awards 1
Awards 2

 The above sample illustrates how relevant, structured content can have an impact in this section. 

If you don't have formal work experience: No sweat! There are two scenarios:

1) You do not have formal work experience but have internship and volunteering experience, showcase those experiences in the above structure and create an "Experience Portfolio". Remember, every role counts. 
  • Share the company/organization name
  • Share your title in that organization
  • Share the time you spent in that role (if it’s part-time, mention that and provide a timeline)
  • Share any projects under that title and call out attributes or skills you picked up from the opportunity, that relates to the potential role (think Data analytics, sales, operations, technical, coding etc.), and provide tangible outcomes to the best of your ability.  

2) You have absolutely no work experience: This applies mostly to full-time students. While focusing on your studies and exams is your primary responsibility, companies look for a well-rounded candidate, so some external experience apart from your marks shows your interest & experience in other areas. Get online and look for opportunities that excite you. Believe me - you will not regret it!

(P.S. If you are interested in sales, feel free to apply to our company - Corpversity. We are always on the lookout for passionate sales interns who want to make a mark! Send your resume and why you want to apply- use the tips from our previous blogs for bonus points- to team@corpversity.xyz)

In our next blog, we will cover the final 40% of a resume. In the meanwhile, try out this exercise to be on your way to creating an impactful resume for yourself!

For those of you with work experience: Compare the 'Work Experience' section of your resume with the one displayed on our blog. Note the differences and, as suggested, modify your resume to make the section as relevant as possible. Tailoring your section to remove any unnecessary information, and to cover 40% of your 1 pager resume.

Candidates without work experience: If you have been involved in internships or volunteer work, details of those experiences count towards crafting your experience section. If you do not have any work experience, I’d highly recommend you to go out and try volunteering, interning or even a simple part-time retail job behind a store counter. It’s time to roll up your sleeves while you still have time, as every bit counts towards your resume.

Share your modified resume with team@corpversity.xyz to get it evaluated with additional suggestions. You’ll be well on your way to having an impactful resume! For further services, please visit www.corporatereadytest.com/resume and get your complete resume scanned, all for a nominal price!

Stay tuned for more!

"Everything is perfect and there is always room for improvement - Shunryu Suzuki"

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Craft a Stellar Header & Profile Summary for Your Resume

       It’s no secret that first impressions matter. How would you like to impress the recruiter in the crucial first moments by beginning your resume with a dashing Header & Profile Summary? As we touched on in an earlier blog, these sections start off the resume. The recruiter is psychologically pushed to either decide to place your application in the green stack or the red from the very beginning, giving these sections immense weight. For this reason, the contents would do well to demonstrate:

- What your Brand can offer specifically to the company you applied for.
- Your consideration of the recruiter's time: Provide relevant, concise information that makes decision-making simpler for the recruiter.

Many applicants make simple errors and fail to make an impact with these two sections when it can easily be avoided. Adding irrelevant information multiple times in various sections causing redundancy, or elaborating on what they would like to be offered where they are expected to provide information on what they have to offer, are some of the common mistakes I’ve noticed over the years.

Below, I’ve elaborated on the DO's and the DON’T’S for these sections, along with many more. For now, let’s not worry ourselves about the styles, colors, formatting etc. of the resume. We’ll discuss the visual, verbal and formatting best practices in upcoming blogs in due time, once the core components have been mastered. But first, remember to craft these two to cover 20% of the resume page at the most. Being concise is a challenging art that is worth the efforts.

The Header Section
DO's: Make it sharp, professional, space-saving and on-point by including the following pointers and pro-tips:

1. In the front center, start with your name in a strong font style with relevant Post Graduate titles beside your name (if any)
  • Pro Tip: Middle names, with their lengthiness and lack of need, are best left out.
2. Add your main e-mail address (ensure you check this email regularly).
  • Avoid sharing unprofessional email handles such as name+rockstar@ or name+verysweet@ or name+kingoftheworld@ etc. Best not to have your resume touch these IDs with a barge pole ;) If you don't have an email address worth sharing professionally, no sweat- now is your time to create one. I suggest creating one with popular email services such as Gmail or Outlook. This not only helps with the perception on the resume but avoids having your email (with your resume) pushed to a recruiter's spam folder.
  • Pro Tip: If you have an official or student email address, it’s best not to share these as both will expire if you truly intend to move on to a new job.
3. Contact Number: One direct phone number that’s in use, along with the area and country code is good to share (preferably your personal mobile).
  • Pro Tip: Cover your basis by adding a concise and professional voicemail message if possible, for those unavoidable times when you are unable to answer the call.
4. LinkedIn URL: I strongly urge you create a LinkedIn profile if you don’t yet have one.
  • Pro Tip: Use URL shorteners like bitly.com to save space while sharing a valid link to your online profile (You can even customize your short link to a relevant name. I strongly suggest you do this.)
5. Location: You may provide your City of residence.
  • Pro Tip: Share your area code. Many a times, recruitment decisions can be based on the candidate’s place of residence, and recruitment agencies may require Pin/Zip codes in addition to the city (full addresses are usually irrelevant in today’s world).

With this, you have a smart, short and sweet start to the resume. The sample below shows what this would look like: 

DON'Ts: Some Don'ts may have become evident to you from the above paragraph.  They include:

1. Taking a significant chunk of space to write “Resume” or “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae” in flamboyant fonts is unnecessary. In most cases, they should have been given the context either by you or a middle-man that they are reviewing a resume.
2. Irrelevant details: Middle names and family details (such as parent names, occupations, passport numbers, full addresses, photos, multiple contact details, links to your social media profiles such as Facebook, twitter, date of birth, sex, religious beliefs etc.) Just don’t.

The Profile Summary Section
This is a short blurb about yourself that gives the recruiter a hint of what you specialize in/hope to focus on. The requirement for a profile summary has long been a debate and is still under contention to be honest. But given my own experience and research, I’ve decided to include it as a part of the core resume structure as it’s been a lethal elevator pitch for me and can be yours too if done right. In the end, if you don’t feel comfortable or don’t see it fitting well with the rest of your resume/experience/industry, feel free to skip it.

1. Keep it concise: A general rule of thumb is to maintain it at 3 lines. A subtle change in font color and spacing can separate this section from the Header.
2. Highlight: Bolden the right content in the sentences for maximum impact. I personally love this, while my better half prefers not to intersperse text with bold font. Feel free to pick what you feel best :)
3. Customize: Show how you and your skills are useful to this specific employer. In the below snapshot, I’ve related my lines to the pre-sales analyst role I’m gunning for. The set of current skills, responsibilities, and expectations listed closely reflects or addresses potential responsibilities required for the role (review the job description closely to gain this information).
4. Focus: Highlight one relevant quality that you possess & engage your reader by elaborating on it. While 3 lines may not seem like a lot, great stories have been written in less.
5. Numbers: Demonstrate your result driven mindset by quantifying any of your skills with a combined, high-level number that denotes an achievement across your experiences or student-life (for instance for teamwork: Was in the 90th percentile or above in all my team assignments). It may not be the most obvious, but dig through and I’m sure you’ll find it. There are few ways to pop-out of the page at a recruiter, this being one of them. See sample #2 below for another example.

#1 Example for candidates with work experience:

#2 Example for student candidates:

1. While you are encouraged to mention the industry you are interested in and tie it with your skills. I suggest leaving out inward looking objectives that are narrow in nature as they may not only derail your chances if there’s a mismatch in interests, but they focus more on what you want and not what you can give.
2. Being ambiguous will not make for a good read. List of words and phrases like “hardworking person”, “never say die attitude” etc. do little to move the needle in your favor. Your experience and education will surely bring out your best skills not to worry!
3. Lengthy summaries: They are an oxymoron. Work with the 3-line rule and make it work.
4. Skills: Again, they only act as fillers, consider avoiding them. 

Example Snapshot:

In the upcoming blog, we will tackle the next two sections that follow these in your resume, with the use of the S.T.A.R technique that we reviewed earlier, for an oh-so-big impact!

For this week's exercise: Compare the header & profile summary of your resume with the ones displayed on our blog. Note the differences and, as suggested in the blog, modify your resume to remove any unnecessary content and fill no more than 20% of your resume with the Header & Profile Summary sections.

Share the updated Header & Profile Summary with team@corpversity.xyz to get it evaluated with additional suggestions. You’ll be well on your way to having an impactful resume! For further services, please visit www.corporatereadytest.com/resume and get your complete resume scanned, all for a nominal price!

"There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you've been in your domain"

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

Copyright © 2016-to date by Career Ready Consultants LLP, All Rights Reserved.