Resume Writing or Stop it?

This month an assignment meant appraising profiles for an IT support engineer’s role, so much time was spent scanning resumes, talking to applicants, and, gratefully, finalizing hiring of a candidate.  The experience has made me appreciate challenges recruiters must face in preparing interview shortlists.

Why only interview shortlists? Well, if this first step can be fraught with so many challenges, how would a recruiter have any headway with the actual talent appraisal, use of assessment tools, background check and hiring?

Objective of a Resume

Absolutely all the resumes I got to see began with a career objective – it’s like a template has been accepted by young IT folks as the best model and everyone in the industry is religiously following it. A couple of candidates offered exactly the same career objective, including errors in English, and some made their statement long winding and full of many phrases strung together laboriously. The end-product was either incomprehensible or monotonous. Here’s an example:

Looking for an opportunity and Organization, which provides challenges opening new vistas to learn
And successfully implement the technical knowledge I acquired through my education and previous
Experience that would ultimately help in gaining job satisfaction and achieving my carrier goal.

What do you think?  If the objective of a resume is to win an interview, then hasn’t this opening statement worked against that plan?

The only point these statements helped me establish was that most candidates didn’t proofread their text or knew enough grammar to construct sentences. That aspect was helpful in sifting resumes as a reasonable level of writing skills was an important consideration for the role.

But, I’d have happily shortlisted those who hadn’t included a career objective statement and had simply provided the main skills, academic qualifications and career history as that format would have made my task of tallying their experience with the role requirement far easier. Later, a phone interview would have helped establish adequacy of spoken skills.

So, I’d say that Lesson 1 for young professionals in resume writing is to resist the temptation of copying a friend’s career objective statement, and focus on their own achievements and experience in simple words.

Missing cover letter

It seems to me that some applicants provide a long career statement to avoid including a customized cover letter.  They should know that skipping a cover letter is simply bad etiquette. A cover letter to one’s resume can be brief but should maintain a polite tone, highlight experience that positions one’s candidature positively, and mention any preferred time for a possible phone interview.

I’d, therefore, make Lesson 2 as the absolute need to craft a brief cover letter and not be lazy about writing those few sentences.

Language and typing errors

All said and done, the most basic requirement of a resume and its cover letter is to make them free of typing errors. While language errors can be due to gaps in one’s grammar (common problem with many of us), leaving spelling errors or showing careless formatting (no space after a comma or unnecessary capitalization of words) is indicative of the individual’s lack of attention to detail or, as a geek helpfully pointed out, use of a text editor instead of a word processing program.

Lesson 3, therefore, is to proofread one’s submission a couple of times to rule out language or formatting errors if one wants a hearing.

In the end, I’d share two resources that would help further:

…a sample resume that reads smart:

…and a list of verbs or ‘action words’ to use for describing one’s experience:

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