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What do employers absolutely not want to see on a résumé?
Resume-building is a fairly long drawn out process at the IIMs, and one that requires taking feedback from quite a few people, including seniors and alumni. So, by the time you're done with it and have gone through 30–40 iterations before you finally seal the draft, you are aware of every possible way in which what you have put down could be construed or interpreted by the recruiters. Here are my two cents from what I have gained along the way. Talk roles, not designations. You may have been the Chairman/C.X.O. of ABC firm, but unless you specify what the firm actually does, the part that you play and the kind of impact that it has, the recruiters cannot actually associate any kind of skill set with you. You need to tell them what is it that you do, how many people does it actually affect and what have you brought to the table once you became one of the C-suite. Talk deltas! Tailor your resume to the job. If you write you worked on some hi-tech software or structured some extremely complex financial products, which no one, except for very few people with a very niche background, would be able to make out without significant googling, it's not helpful-to the recruiter or to you. It may be a huge deal in the circles you have been part of, but unless you express it in a way that anyone can get it, it's not going to translate into one for you. Presentation matters. Presentation is not just about making your resume pretty or structured or grammatically sound. It's that as well, and some more. A recruiter is not going to spend more than 5 minutes on your resume. And you need to make sure that the best bits of your profile are out there for them to make out within the first 30 seconds itself. If you've hidden the best aspects of your profile in unnecessary detail somewhere in the middle, chances are it will go unread. So, make sure you give them a reason to keep reading right in the very beginning. Write your interests. A lot of us have hobbies that we are extremely passionate about but we haven't done anything resume-worthy to put down there. Trust me, t can lead to some of the best interview moments you might have. So, if you are a gamer or a dancer or a gym enthusiast, just go ahead and write it. If the person on the other side of the table shares your interest, it breaks the ice and allows them to know you better as a prospective teammate. Don't just fill, ever! I know the temptation to compare the lengths of the resumes is great, especially among us, extra-sheet obsessed people. But, remember, the shorter and crisper it is, the easier it is to remember and the easier it is to remember, the greater the chances of you getting a call-back. Filter out unnecessary things, decade-old "achievements" and irrelevant points from your resume. Let the best parts of your profile not have to compete with unnecessary details to shine. Check across formats. Employers can take a look at your resume any which way, in the print form, as an online pop-up or as a downloaded word or PDF file. Check that your resume reads well across all these. I have seen people getting their margins displaced or text distorted going from one form to the next. So, print once and check. A resume is your first point of contact with a firm where you're potentially going to spend more than half your time in the coming years. So, make sure you put in a little more effort and create it, rather than just put it together. Will add more as I remember.
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