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Resumes: Expectation vs reality

A resume showcases your skills and helps the recruiter understand what you bring to the table. It is an extremely important document that can make or break your career. Still, there’s a good amount of people that pay little attention to composing a stellar resume. 

To make sure that your application stands out from the rest, you need to correctly display your expertise. 

In this guide, we will debunk the misconceptions about resume writing and provide you with valuable information to craft a job-winning resume. 

Let’s begin. 

Any template would do

While composing a resume, most candidates pick a generic template and start writing information without giving a thought. 

It is important because it messes up the formatting of the resulting document. A resume has to convey your proficiencies to the recruiter, so presentation and formatting is the key. 

But, we need to understand that you are not writing the resume just for the recruiter. A lot of the organizations use the applicant tracking system to filter resumes based on a set of job-related keywords. 

A resume template plays a major role in parsing the information through ATS. For instance, if you add a lot of infographics and images, or use fancy fonts, it may become problematic in parsing your resume correctly.

So, use an ATS-optimized template to write your resume. 

Sidelining resume format

The point is that candidates expect that their skills will automatically come forth and avoid thinking about the format altogether. 

A resume format plays a major role in showcasing the skills of a candidate. For example, there are two types of resume formats and applicants choose them depending on their professional experience. 

Here are the two types of resume formats and pointers around how you can choose one:

  • Chronological format: The chronological format allows you to write information in reverse chronological order. This helps you focus on recent achievements and projects. This is the most famous format among applicants and an ideal choice for people who do not have any gap in their career. It is great for entry-level professionals as well. 
  • Functional format: This format is an ideal choice for people who are switching careers or have gaps in their professional portfolio. This format allows applicants to focus on the skills that are important for the profile they are targeting. Here you can create a “domain expertise” or “summary of skills” section to write pointers relevant to the target profile. 

Impressing the recruiter with a long resume

Recruiters spend about 6-10 seconds on a resume. As an applicant, you do not get much time to impress the recruiter, especially with a long resume which is a big misconception among candidates. 

A resume should be one or two pages. There is another way to put this, your resume should be one page if you have less than 10 years of experience and two pages if you have more than 10 years of experience. 

But, the question is how do you keep your resume short?

Avoid long paragraphs to write your job responsibilities in the work experience section. Form one-liner bullet points and focus majorly on the results of your actions. 

The best way to achieve this is by using the STAR format and it stands for situation, task, action, and result. Using this format will help you compose result-oriented statements. 

Knowledge trumps resume

That is absolutely true and it is your knowledge that will help you land the job you want. But, even though your expertise cannot be matched, you need to showcase your skills in the resume as it is your first point of contact with the recruiter. 

Hiring managers will read your resume to see you match the job criteria and if you fail to display your skills in the document, you are unlikely to get shortlisted for the interview.

The ideal way of displaying your proficiencies is by creating a separate “key skills” or “areas of expertise” section to write your skills. 

Here is what it should look like: 

Moreover, tech professionals must create another “technical skills” section where you can add all the tools and methodologies you are familiar with. 

Using one resume for every job post

Each job application you come across has different requirements. So it makes little sense to use the same resume for all the job posts. 

The reality is that you need to modify your resume as per the job requirements. But, how should you go about doing that?

All you need to do is read the job description and find the keywords that you can highlight in your resume. Let’s say that requirements state the ideal candidates to be familiar with “dashboard creation”. 

If you possess this skill, you just need to highlight it in your resume via work experience and add it to the key skills section. Moreover, as the summary goes right below your name and contact information, you can add it there so that it catches the recruiter’s attention. 

Key takeaways

Here are a few key takeaways from the article: 

  • Use an ATS-optimized template that showcases your skills correctly. 
  • Choose a resume format as per your work experience.
  • Restrict the resume to just one or two pages. 
  • Create a key skills section to display your proficiencies. 
  • Modify your resume for each job application.