This article is the second post under the series HOW TO BUILD YOUR RESUME
A close relative of mine is one of the panelists for campus interviews. Once on a visit to our house for dinner, he told me how most of the candidates he interviewed were rejected because of their improperly structured resumes. Sometimes, the resumes were so boring, that they didn’t get enough attention. I was intrigued and asked him what I should watch out for to make my resume stand out.
The first thing he asked me to be wary of, was the appearance.
The biggest mistake, he said he saw students make, was having a misconception that recruiters cared only about the contents and not appearance.
Your initial goal shouldn't be landing the job itself, but to differentiate your resume as much as possible from the competing pool of candidates. Why would a recruiter choose your resume among many other candidates he has just scanned?
First, he showed me a few dull looking resumes online, something like this-
He explained the significance of appearance and design with a comparison between an iPhone and an android phone. He'd point out how an iPhone, even though being inferior in customizability and specifications to an android phone, still has a better public perception in the market (AND higher price), because its design is so pleasing.
Next, he showed me how I could make my resume look good with professional colors. Something more like this-
Don’t worry if you aren’t an artist though! There are plenty of professional templates available on various websites such as:
At the same time, my relative advised me to be extremely cautious about using colored backgrounds. The immediate reaction of a recruiter to an overtly flamboyant resume could be, "What is this person trying to distract me from?". He strictly advised me against using any colored fonts, to have one legible font and express myself through succinct bullet points.
Here are a few more takeaways from that meeting which helped me make a resume that stands out -
Categorise your academic achievements, professional experience (internships), extra-curricular achievements, positions of responsibility and so on into different sections, and arrange them on the basis of which of them is your strongest. For instance, he suggested I place my coding internships on the top, as coding was my strong suit so that recruiters wouldn’t miss it.
Bring out your skills and strengths through internships or even freelance work. Recruiters are looking for someone who wants to learn and has transferable skills, which your internships and any sort of freelance work might suggest. For instance, he advised I add the link to a website I designed for a local shopping mall. I was responsible for the creation of both, the website and the content that went into it. Not only did it showcase my understanding of the technicality of front-end and back-end web development, but also established me as someone who knows a little about content creation.
Focus on the impact you had, rather than just the process you followed. For example, whether the code you created had an impact on a company's productivity, and if it did, by how much. What impact you are likely to make to the company is what a recruiter is primarily interested in.
Towards the end, mention something different about yourself. My relative recounted an anecdote about an IIT Bombay graduate, who, in his resume, had mentioned that he was exceptionally good at poker. The interviewer then called for a pack of cards and they played Heads-up poker for 20 minutes. He ended up getting selected!
Manipal, Karnataka, India |
Second year, Bachelor of Pharmacy |
Content Creator intern at Konversations |
Certified web developer |