Resume-writing, a specialised skill in the digital world

Illustration: Sebastian Francis  

As first impressions go, this one is about making those impressions with a degree of anonymity. It is called “the written resume”.

From a piece of paper, usually an A4-size sheet or a couple of them, the resume has come a long way. Now, there is often the option of presenting it in a digital format. However, technology has not detracted from the challenge of writing one. If anything, it has become more challenging than ever, as resumes navigating the digital waters have to be a lot crisper and more to the point, given the shrinking attention spans.

Though it can’t be verbose, it has to give the prospective employer a sense of what the candidate has achieved through his career — the longer the career, the more challenging the write. However, most experienced and top-level professionals choose to grapple with the task themselves, one reason being that they are likely to be known in their industry circles and also likely to receive recommendations from peers.

The professional touch

Fresh, early-career and mid-level professionals usually need that powerful introduction, and they are said to be likely to seek the services of professional resume-writers., a TeamLease company that offers resume writing services, gets close to 50,000 registrations on its portal every day, and a majority of them are from freshers.

“In a day, nearly 1,000 people seek this service on our portal. In this group, 60% opt for the paid service,” says Kaushik Banerjee, vice-president and business head, Teamlease and Freshersworld.

Many engineering colleges, he says, engage us for bulk writing of resumes. Usually, in this case, projects undertaken by students have to be presented in an impressive manner.

Social media boost

Unlike in the past, the resume today is multi-layered. Social media profiles of candidates have to be factored in, while writing resumes for them.

“As hiring managers want the LinkedIn profile as part of the application, we offer services like writing the summary for the page and also providing a covering letter,” says Neena Mody, resume consultant at Step-it-Up Resumes.

Sharper focus

While presenting their credentials to prospective clients, some companies usually have professionally-written resumes of their key employees, as part of the “pitch-package”.

Here is a classic example.

Amrita Kolay, a certified resume writer, had a recent assignment where the company that had opted for the resume-writing service, was bidding for a tender.

“The CVs of nearly 100 employees with the company had to be improved, and the work had to be carried out in a short span of time; these employees were going to be part of the project and the company wanted the skill-sets they brought to the table to be showcased prominently,” says Amrita.

The career journey

On LinkedIn, she says, there would be companies that would want resume writers to write the career journey of their executives.

“Sometime we visit them to understand their work culture or the information is provided to us through email,” she says.

Staffing companies, recruitment agencies and those offering returning mothers a platform to make a career comeback, engage resume writers either to have workshops done for their clients, or to promote their profiles.

“A resume writer’s primary role is to highlight the candidate’s brand value — this is usually done by listing out the results they have achieved and the challenges they have overcome,” says Amrita.

Another challenge faced by resume writers is having to tweak resumes of highly experienced professionals to bring certain skills they possess into sharper focus.

“Reverse chronological resume is the most sought-after format. Here, a job seeker’s work history and accomplishments are presented in reverse chronological order, with the most recent work experience and achievement listed first. The candidate’s responsibilities and accomplishments are listed employer-wise. In contrast, the functional format is about grouping achievements based on skills,” says Neena.

ATS optimisation

In this day and age when resumes “pop up” on screens more often than land on the table in a physical form, a resume can’t have a winning edge unless it is ATS-optimised.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) helps to filter resumes based on certain skill-sets that an employer is looking for.

Vikramjit Singh Sahaye, founder and CEO, HiringPlug, says it’s tough to beat an ATS and his advice is to keep the resume simple and to the point.

“Most applicant tracking systems only read data and keywords, and so don’t be over-creative or strive to present your skills in a different light,” says Sahaye.

Artificial intelligence, he says, is being increasingly used to optimise the chances of a resume showing up in most job searches.

“We use AI and create secondary skill-sets for a candidate and map it to the job. So, even if the candidate has missed highlighting certain skills, technology comes to the aid,” says Sahaye, adding that the company also uses machine learning to help employers find the right candidates more quickly and hire faster.

Points to ponder

* Make sure your resume is ATS-friendly as it is the first “critic” a candidate will face after he has submitted his resume. The choice of keywords and the way in which the skills are presented are among the major factors ensuring ATS-friendliness.

* When one has had a long career and therefore the list of achievements is bound to be lengthy, the candidate has to consciously focus on writing an extremely crisp resume. For, without this rudder, the candidate is likely to dwell at length on a majority of achievements, and thereby run the risk of sounding long-winded. The best of the achievements should be highlighted, the second- and third-best touched upon, and the rest ignored.

* Resumes set in the reverse-chronological format usually work best, as they come with a sense of immediacy, presenting the latest achievements first. This format achieves immense value in today’s corporate word, as technological shifts happen more quickly than ever before. Against this backdrop, listing the latest achievement involving a more current technological skill first assumes significance.

* Data speaks a lot; and so if you are handling a project, mention its size and value.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 2:07:22 AM |

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