We all know that the first step in getting shortlisted for any job is your cover letter and resume. Reflect, how much time did you actually spend on creating a cover letter and a resume? Do you have something original in your resume, or you resorted to google/ other templates? That will probably not get you far, even though it will reduce your burden.
First, a resume and cover letter are selling a product. The product is “you”. Like any product, there is a producer and consumer. You must understand what the consumer wants. In this case, it is what the recruiter is looking for in your resume. In order to sell yourself, you have to attractively package yourself, differentiate yourself, so that the buyer (in this case, the recruiter) feels curious enough to shortlist you and wants to know more about you.
I have been asked, do we need both the cover letter and resume? My answer is yes, because each of them serve a different purpose.
Let us start with the resume.
Let us take a look at the Number One ground rule. Make your resume fit into one A4 page. Do NOT go beyond 1 page. You should have the ability to condense all your achievements and details in 1 page. You don’t have to tell the recruiter EVERYTHING about you. You highlight just the ones that will interest the recruiter. Very much like a product catalog.
The first main block of information is your career objective. Don’t repeat whatever you have done in the past. That is already available in the details of your experience,which the recruiter will read, in case he decides to read.
The career objective should follow the 80/20 rule. Spend 20% of your text summarizing what you have learnt so far, or your true passion, and the remaining 80% should describe what you aspire to do in the next 5 years. That gives the recruiter a sense of your career expectation, and also your motivation, your hunger level to achieve success and aim for bigger things in life. It makes your Career Objective section more solid.
For example: I have strong emotional and empathy skills and would like to further enhance my effectiveness in this area. In 5 years, I see myself as leading a team of CSR officers, and delivering tangible, meaningful, goal-driven decisions for the company CSR activities as its Chief Meaning Officer.
Suppose this is the core message you want to highlight and the recruiter to notice. And this is really your passion. How to write the rest of your resume?
“Creating killer bullet points”. Every resume has bullet points that highlights something that you want the recruiter to read. How can you make bullet points stand out?
You have to make sure that there are 3 components in your bullets:
Component 1: activity
Component 2: description of the activity
Component 3: result of the activity.
Let’s take an example:
Original bullet: Participated in CSR events & activities.
This is what you want to say but is not what the recruiter wants to see. Where is the problem?
Component 1 is mentioned: “participated”
Component 2 is mentioned: “CSR events & activities”.
But there is no mention of Component 3: outcome. Component 1 is also very vague – were you a cheerleader participant or an active contributor?
Revised bullet: Led a group activity in the CSR team, by coordinating with employees and stakeholders on “driving positive outcomes”, resulting in increased level of productivity.
Isn’t the revised bullet point more powerful than the original one?
Remember: activity, description of activity & outcome – 3 parts of making a killer bullet.
Let’s take another example:
“Completed a course on Emotional Intelligence through Coursera”.
When a recruiter reads this, he cannot make much out of it. Several questions will pop up – like, you have completed the course, but did you get any grades? Were you a passive learner and crossed each chapter and made it to the end of the course and got the certificate? Were you an active learner, did you really learn something?
Look at another way to “repackage” the same statement: Learnt the nuances of Emotional Intelligence, through a Coursera course, gaining in-depth understanding of group motivation and using it to improve the leadership effectiveness of my group, as well as interactions with my preschooler son and wife.
This statement is more powerful, as it has all the ingredients required for the recruiter. You have not only given the name and description of the activity: “Emotional Intelligence through Coursera”, but also specified the outcome, namely, “improved the leadership effectiveness of the group”.
That’s the golden rule to make an outstanding bullet point.
This is an example. Each individual should aim at an appropriate packaging based on his/her skills and aspirations.
Learning: An “attractive packaging sells”.