Searching for the right resume format?

You’ve come to the right place.

Read on… I have a friend – let’s call him Neel. Neel works at McDonald’s as a Restaurant Manager, and one day he invited me over to the restaurant for a tour to see how burgers are made.

McDonald’s is famous for two things (hint: neither include their burgers). First is the superb process they have at each and every store in the world, to ensure that the burger you have in New Delhi tastes almost the same as the one in New York or Moscow.

The second is having stores in some of the best locations in town. Someone rightly said – McDonald’s is not in the food business. It’s actually in the real estate business.


Anyway – during the walkthrough, I noticed how perfectly each burger was made and how the burger patties were created. Almost identical to the core. Like they were being cast from the same mould.

OK, what’s the point in my story, what’s it got to do with a resume templates?

The story is not to impress you with my brief knowledge about McDonald’s in-house systems – but to impress on you the fact that templates may have their place in some businesses – but not in getting hired, not in finding a new job.

In the hiring world, if you fit into a resume format, you look identical to hundreds of other candidates all competing for the same job that you are.

Think of the resume format as a conveyor belt dishing out hundreds of identical looking burger buns at McDonald’s.


Think about it for a moment. Do you want to be an indistinguishable job seeker like so many others in the job market? Or do you want to be unique and different?

Sure you do need some structure to your resume – but you should never follow a resume format downloaded from the internet, or casually borrowed from a friend.

Why? Because it’s not specially developed for you!

The aim of the resume is to show you in the best possible light – someone who is credible, talented, & right for that specific role. Above all the resume should reveal as little information as possible so that the recruiter is intrigued by you, and wants to meet you.

How can a resume format do that?

If the resume is too detailed – you give the whole game away. Think of the pre-interview period with the hiring manager/recruiter as a dating game. You need to come across as interesting yet mysterious. Charming yet elusive. Approachable yet someone with an aura of confidence.

How do you do that?

Here is my 5 point strategy to help you:

#1. Ignore a resume format and create your resume from the ground up. From scratch.

The resume has to be a reflection of you and your talent. You are unique – and so should your resume be. A resume format works for campus-level roles or for freshers with no experience. But if you have even a little experience, ditch the resume format for what is about to follow.

# 2. Ensure you have one master resume that you never send to anyone! In some ways it’s a resume format that gets modified and then utilised.Confused?

Let me explain. Create one resume that is not dependent on any specific role but follows all the guidelines I am about to share with you. Then keep that resume handy. Whenever you apply for a job, or if you have multiple job opportunities you are applying for – use the following keyword strategy in your template.

# 3. What’s the keyword strategy? It’s simple. Let’s use an example.

Go through the job description for the role with a highlighter and mark keywords of that role that stand out. For example, consider this actual JD extract from LinkedIn for a brand manager role at Apple. Read it carefully and see what keywords jump out at you:

“Effectively lead all local market launches, sustaining activities around products, and seasonal projects.

Act as the key interface between the WW Marcom teams and local Marcom and PR teams.

Work closely with the WW Marcom team to establish local Marcom goals and product strategies.

Gather and provide strategic market insights to the WW planning team that ultimately help drive more relevant and impactful communications.

Work with local agency partners to ensure that all deliverables are fully integrated and flawlessly executed, meeting Apple’s extremely high-quality standards.

Provide strategic communications input and guidance to all functional areas.

Provide regular planning updates and insights to WW and Geo teams.”

Now read it again and notice the keywords I’ve highlighted out:

“Effectively lead all local market launches, sustaining activities around products, and seasonal projects.

Act as the key interface between the WW Marcom teams and local Marcom and PR teams.

Work closely with the WW Marcom team to establish local Marcom goals and product strategies.

Gather and provide strategic market insights to the WW planning team that ultimately help drive more relevant and impactful communications.

Work with local agency partners to ensure that all deliverables are fully integrated and flawlessly executed, meeting Apple’s extremely high-quality standards.

Provide strategic communications input and guidance to all functional areas.

Provide regular planning updates and insights to WW and Geo teams.”

As you can see, Apple is looking for a specific kind of person. Not just any marketer. When they get 100s of resumes for this role, they’ll match the JD to the resumes to see which applicants have experience that has the highest relevancy with the JD.

If you were applying for this role, you should now pick-up these keywords and include some / all of them in your master resume so that your resume is much more relevant to this role.

In most organisations, there is some form of resume shortlisting software that does the first round of elimination. When it sees your resume and picks up the keywords you’ve included, it’ll be able to match them with the keywords in the JD and potentially select you for the next round.

One point here is that don’t indulge in keyword stuffing – that’s adding in too many keywords without ensuring that your resume makes sense to the human reader and is interesting.

#4. Another reason why a resume format doesn’t work is because its normally 2 – 3 pages long. To retain a recruiter’s initial interest and get him/her intrigued about you – your resume should be just one page long. That’s right – one page only.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in junior, middle or senior management. If you want to get called – keep it short. Flirt with the reader – reveal a bit about yourself, but never give away the whole story.

After all, if your resume is 3 pages long most seasoned recruiters can decide whether to call you for the interview or not based on that. We don’t want such a situation to occur.

And yet while keeping it short you need to write about these key areas:

i. Summary / Objective – In a few sentences write about what you are looking for and the value you bring to the table. Remember the recruiter is thinking this while reading your summary – “what’s in it for me? why should I be interested?”

ii. Experience in reverse chronological order – Don’t’ skip gaps, be very honest, and your current experience counts the most.

iii. Brief educational qualifications – Just the degree and name of the educational institute. Skip the marks, but if you were a gold medalist – do mention that.

iv. Any advanced and relevant degrees – Avoid writing about degrees not related directly to the role. For eg. if you are applying for the role of a brand manager – course certification is marketing management or finance for non-finance executives is relevant. Not a certificate in meditation or yoga.

v. Include your residence address, mobile number and email address (a professional sounding one please – avoid something like [email protected] Create a new email address for your job search if you have to.)

Do not include – a passport photograph, your list of hobbies (unless relevant to the role), passport number, family status etc. All these make your resume look tacky.

Bonus tactics: OK I said I have 5 points to share, but here’s an optional 6th that’s worked very well for me and I think you should give it a try too. Include a few testimonials from your LinkedIn profile, in your resume.

Why? It’s all about reducing risk from the recruiter’s perspective. If other senior people have endorsed you – chances are you’re a good professional and perhaps worth calling to the next round, all other things being OK.

When you write your resume, you’re tooting your own horn, talking about how good you are. However when someone else speaks about you in a testimonial – that’s third-party endorsement and much more powerful.

Other bonus tactics are including a little bit of colour in your resume in the form or section headers, and being output focus rather than activity focused. This means describing what was the outcome of your job rather than listing just a series of activities you did or currently do.

Summary

I hope you’ve realized that there’s much more to writing a world-class resume than blindly following a resume format.


For more advanced strategies regarding job search success, check out the advanced Get Ahead Fast Course below: