All freshers need to know about building a ‘pickable’ resume

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A plethora of young graduates enter the job market each year. The uber competitive nature of the job market in India isn’t the most hospitable for the careers of many such young aspirants. This is the primary reason behind the high rate of unemployment among graduates in the country. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) compiled at the end of 2019 revealed that 18.5 per cent of graduates were unemployed in India.

The need of the hour for young graduates seeking their first job is to optimise themselves in such a way that they stand out in any recruitment process they appear in. In order to do that, due diligence must be given to the resumé they’d be using to apply for a particular position.

As crisp as possible

Anant Garg, director, human resources, India and South Asia, Becton, Dickinson and Company, breaks down what recruiters look for when they come across a fresher’s resume. “From a content perspective, freshers’ resumes are usually evaluated based on pedigree, academic performance and at best quality of internships where applicable,” he says.

“Learnability is an extremely important skill. I would actually look at freshers who are ready to jump in and learn. They need to give an example around their right attitude. They should be able to project that they don’t come with a chip on their shoulders, but are willing to get their hands dirty”

Abhay K Srivastava, chief human resources officer, IKS Health

Giving precedence to the style of writing the candidate has used, Garg says, “It’s the style of writing that can become a differentiator.” He emphasises that it is essential to ensure crispness throughout the resume, as a recruiter may only get but a few seconds to analyse it.

In order to do that, he suggests, “Whether it is a fresher or an experienced professional, impact can be created through a resume by a) being brief and precise — not more than 1.5 pages in all, b) avoiding long generic paragraphs or descriptions (e.g. generic goal statements), c) including only the key, significant projects (rather than flooding with several routine tasks), d) being honest and not over-projecting small things to make them appear like big accomplishments.”

Optimise the body

According to Garg, a resumé with a good flow catches the eye of the recruiter. However, relevant experience to the position sought could ensure that the eye doesn’t deviate from the piece of paper.

Abhay K Srivastava, chief human resources officer, IKS Health, explains that a fresher must analyse exactly what the organisation they wish to work for does and explain how they could fit in, if given the opportunity. ”If the freshers are able to study the organisation they are applying to and create a slight story about where they have some kind of alignment to the business perspective of the organisation, even a very minor one, it helps.”

“Freshers should be able to express themselves well, touch all the dimensions and reveal why they should be picked. That lucidness will prompt us to call them for an interview or meeting or schedule a demo or do whatever is required”

Rajani Tewari, former HR head

Through example, Srivastava explains, “Suppose I am an organisation working on talent management or AI and ML, then any project in those areas will attract immediate attention.”

No doubt having a relevant background to the opportunity one is trying for is a big plus.

However, Rajani Tewari, former HR head, opines that hiring someone with no relevant background can sometimes work in favour of the organisation. “If the CV shows some level of interest in the kind of industry I am operating in, it would certainly excite me. However, at times, it is good to hire people with no knowledge of the industry because it is easier to groom and enhance them overall. It even works better, because raw talent can be culled out the way we want,” she remarked.

Personality of the CV and cover letter

Apart from the technical aspects, there are multiple other factors that are assessed when a recruiter is deciding whether or not to move forth with the application of a fresher. These criteria, which are more closely linked to the soft skills of a candidate, must be reflected in the resumé itself. Srivastava suggests that a candidate must incorporate some examples in their writeups to highlight some key skills. Learnability and the right attitude are the foremost amongst these skills, according to Srivastava, who has also served as the chief talent officer for Cipla.

“Learnability is an extremely important skill. I would actually look at people who are ready to jump in and learn. They need to give an example around their right attitude. They should be able to project that they don’t come with a chip on their shoulders, but are willing to get their hands dirty…. Get into the details, get things done, focus on impact, focus on details and execution,” Srivastava elaborated.

“In case of fresher’s resume it’s the style of writing that can become a differentiator”

Anant Garg, director, human resources, India and South Asia, Becton, Dickinson and Company

The cover letter sent in with the application must reflect who the applicant truly is, as a person. Tewari says that she actually requires freshers to turn in a cover letter or letter of purpose along with their CVs.

“There is no skill to judge a fresher on. One can only judge them on their aptitude and mindset. And what better can they talk about than their own selves? Talking about themselves is what they will be able to do best,” she asserts. The seriousness behind the intent of the fresher, when they apply for the position, is more accurately conveyed through the cover letter. Hence, it is a big contributor in the shortlisting of a particular resumé. “They should be able to express themselves well, touch all the dimensions and reveal why they should be picked. That lucidness will prompt us to call them for an interview or meeting or schedule a demo or do whatever is required,” Dr Tewari continued.

At the end of the day, the work that goes into creating a resume, especially when a person is starting out, can make a big difference in their career path. It is quintessential to be methodical in designing the resume. Students can work on what they want to pursue further in their career, which can be reflected in their internships and projects that they undertake. Further, the cover letter can highlight other skills that are sought after in an employee by a company.

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