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Mastering the Art of Compelling Resumes and Online Branding

By Kishan Malur – Product Line Manager at VMware

Nageswara KNR Rao –  Ex-VP, Unisys India Certified Personal Transformation Coach

Resumes serve as a succinct snapshot of one’s qualifications, experience, and skills, allowing employers to swiftly assess suitability for roles. Irrespective of the field, resumes serve as a gateway to showcasing a candidate’s potential and securing coveted professional opportunities.

In this blog, we will delve into the art of constructing compelling resumes, discovering the nuances distinguishing resumes from LinkedIn profiles, and uncover the unique strategies to enhance their effectiveness. Further, we will also try to harness the full potential of online platforms, including social media platforms, as we embark on a journey to optimize your online presence and create a standout profile that truly shines. 

The creation of a resume, LinkedIn profile, and other digital assets is driven by the necessity to establish a visible and impactful online presence, and effectively communicate and highlight our strengths, ensuring that their abilities and qualifications are well-communicated to a broader audience.

Here we will explore the process of putting ourselves out to the world in a more structured manner, this is commonly referred to as building one’s personal brand.

Key Takeaways:

  • Personal branding involves creating a distinctive identity both in face-to-face interactions and online platforms like resumes and LinkedIn profiles. 
  • This blog will explore the salient features necessary for a standout resume, further guiding you through the art of creating an engaging and captivating resume.
  • Here we will also outline the crucial sections that need inclusion, and highlight the elements that are best left out to ensure a polished and effective presentation.
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    What is a Brand?

    While you may hold expertise in areas like operating systems, middleware, and data management, or possess exceptional interpersonal skills, the true measure of your brand lies in the perceptions of others, not just your own. Your brand is the impression others hold about you – a pivotal factor in your ability to attain goals and deliver business results. Building a brand is driven by the imperative to step into the spotlight and succeed.

    What Do You Understand by Success?

    Success entails possessing structured knowledge and skillfully channeling it through purposeful endeavors; essentially, it involves the practical utilization of this knowledge to attain desired outcomes. The foundation of success rests upon well-organized knowledge, yet its realization hinges upon proactive application, requiring the employment of intelligent effort to materialize aspirations.

    The utmost vital aspect of a brand is its transparency and visibility, whatever you portray should be genuine and never the capabilities or qualities beyond your actual capacity. 

    The two distinct avenues for brand development, include:

    1. Personal Brand Building: 

    This pertains to crafting your image in face-to-face interactions, the impressions you leave while collaborating with others. Are you perceived as helpful, friendly, abrasive, or haughty? With every interaction, you are shaping your personal brand, making a statement about your character and demeanor. This type of branding revolves around your physical presence and how you engage with others. 

    2. Online Brand Building: 

    This involves crafting your brand identity in the digital realm. This digital trail includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other professional assets. For instance, you might maintain a Twitter account to share your thoughts or engage on LinkedIn by posting articles or engaging with others’ content. These conscious actions allow you to strategically build your online presence.

    As we often gear ourselves up for interviews, a significant portion of our preparation involves shaping our brand. A vital part of brand building involves crafting a compelling resume. Here we will try to unveil what information should be included in your resume and how the resume should be structured. Hence empowering you to transform your resume and make it more appealing.

    Why a Resume is Essential?

    Your resume can be referred to as your personalized brochure. It is a pivotal tool for self-promotion and serves as a bridge between you and the hiring decision-maker. 

    The fundamental purpose of constructing a resume is to effectively market ourselves. In essence, we become the product, and the resume functions as strategic marketing collateral. In this analogy, envision having a distinctive product you intend to offer to the most fitting buyer, here resume becomes the embodiment of that marketing material, showcasing your unique value and facilitating your introduction to potential employers. 

    The initial recipients of your resume are either the TA (Talent Acquisition) team or a representative from the HR department. The pivotal objective of your resume is to get an interview call. Therefore, your primary emphasis should be on crafting a resume that intrigues the reader enough to initiate the interview call.

    Furthermore, when approaching a resume you must keep in mind that when a hiring manager engages with a resume, they may dedicate varying amounts of time to its analysis and on average, invests approximately seven seconds. This average seven-second timeframe for resume assessment is a common practice, not driven by a lack of regard for the applicant or their resume. Instead, it stems from the recognition that a resume has typically been reviewed by numerous other individuals within the talent acquisition process.

    Salient Features That Hold Significance in a Resume

    Upon perusing the resume, the focus will be on determining the areas of interest and where the attention should be directed. 

    A standard resume typically encompasses various sections, such as your name, current title, and potentially your photograph. It may also showcase your notable achievements, educational background, and work experience.

    Now, let’s delve into the aspects that a resume should embrace or avoid, which include:

    1. It’s not a chronological list:

    It’s important to note that a resume isn’t intended to be a linear chronological catalog of every career milestone. While past accomplishments from years ago may indeed be remarkable, their relevance to your current aspirations may be limited. Thus, there’s no need to incorporate an exhaustive account of your entire professional history and accomplishments. While it’s natural to hold one’s earlier achievements in high esteem, they might not be directly applicable to your present ambitions. This underscores the fact that a resume need not encompass an exhaustive chronology of every life event.

    2. It must be curated for the role:

    While crafting your resume, it’s essential to contemplate what should be included. However, there’s a crucial caveat: the content should be curated to suit the particular role at hand. However, the term ‘curated’ doesn’t imply replicating the job description verbatim into your resume. Among the numerous endeavors you’ve undertaken, it’s pivotal to highlight the select few that hold the utmost relevance to the applied position. 

    We’ll now explore a method to tailor your resume to match the specific job description you’re applying for.

    Process of Resume Preparation

    Here we will delve into the process of preparation, emphasizing the steps involved in getting ready for one’s resume including the strategies to effectively develop one’s content.

    1. Fixing the target role: 

    When embarking upon a career transition, the initial step involves identifying the target role and transition objectives. It’s essential to reflect on the motivations behind the desire for change, encapsulating one’s statement of purpose. While continuity in one’s current path is an option, certain compelling factors prompt consideration of a more expansive endeavor. This might entail a shift into a different domain, function, or role. Many individuals find themselves in this juncture, having a background in a particular field and contemplating a transition. 

    While it’s not mandatory to have only a single target, narrowing down the focus is crucial. This step is pivotal to prevent scattering efforts across various directions, which could lead to pursuing diverse work types, a multitude of job opportunities, and disparate domains without making substantive progress. The importance of this target-setting process is integral to our discussion on career path planning and determining one’s career trajectory.

    With the completion of the first phase, which involves fixing the target role, target domain, target function, and potentially even specific companies, based on the domain you want to work in, the functions you want to perform, and the role you want to play, the focus shifts to the second step.

    2. Identification of five to ten JDS based on your transition goal:

    This step is particularly relevant for individuals actively preparing for interviews for particular roles and particular JDs. However, if one has not reached this stage, it is recommended to identify your aspirations, job descriptions aligning with your aspirations, and at least two or three JDs that resonate with your aspirations. These JDs serve as the foundational building blocks for the subsequent work.

    How to Tailor the Content of a Resume?

    To ensure the alignment of the resume with the job description (JD), the content must be tailored accordingly which can be done by the following: 

    1. Skill Assessment Summary:

    One approach involves reviewing the JD and identifying specific skills sought. The relevant skills and experiences can be incorporated into your resume, a more systematic method  and a structured compilation of your proficiency in these areas is the ‘Skill Assessment Summary,’

    2. Experience Journal:

    The second component of resume content naturally stems from your professional journey, encompassing your achievements, transitions, and valuable insights gained over your career. This section is drawn from the depth of your experiences, highlighting your accomplishments and the stories that have shaped your professional narrative. It involves presenting quantifiable data and results, and showcasing instances of successful transformation or projects. This segment is not limited to just successes; it should also encompass learning from challenges and failures. By delving into your experience journal, you can reveal the lessons garnered from setbacks. This comprehensive approach to your career history enriches your portfolio, offering a well-rounded perspective and enhancing your readiness for interviews and resume preparation.

    What Should a Resume Look Like?

    As we all are aware that no one allocates more than seven seconds to peruse a resume, honing in on specific elements. Designed for optimal impact, this format ideally spans one page, with a maximum extension to one and a half pages if necessary. While it might be tempting but challenging to encapsulate every facet within a single page, it’s important to exercise discretion, and include only pertinent details. Anything surpassing two pages is discouraged, as it is unlikely to receive thorough attention and might constitute a fruitless endeavor in content preparation.

    The resume structure encompasses the following components:

    1. Name, Contact, and Position:

    This introductory segment encompasses your name, current title, and a single line encapsulating your professional identity.

    2. Summary:

    A succinct articulation of the individual’s professional identity, including key accomplishments relevant to their targeted role. It’s crucial to focus on tangible outcomes and impacts, transcending mere responsibilities.

    The top two sections are of utmost significance, capturing the essence of your professional profile and strengths. This area serves as a snapshot of your domain expertise, highlights, and career trajectory, tailored to the role you seek.

    3. Portfolio:

    Highlighting substantial work examples, albeit not an exhaustive list. This is basically a compilation of quantifiable and justifiable achievements demonstrating their proficiency. It must include a handful of top accomplishments and the values delivered in the previous roles relevant to the role being pursued.

    4. Work Experience:

    Detailing key professional engagements, accomplishments, and transitions. If there are reasons behind job changes, it’s prudent to transparently address them in this section. 

    5. Additional Aspects:

    Incorporating awards and education, encapsulating pertinent credentials. An optional profile picture can add a personal touch.

    Things to Avoid

    The things that must be avoided while crafting a resume include:

    1. Personal Career Objective:

    Elaborating on aspirational goals such as envisioning oneself as the CEO of Google within the next decade are commendable as personal goals and objectives. However, it’s important to note that such long-term ambitions are not directly pertinent to the specific resume being developed. 

    2. Flashy Formats and Fonts:

    Employing extravagant styles detracts from content substance.

    3. Personal Details:

    Irrelevant personal particulars, such as marital status or information about having a passport, including passport numbers and travel history, are not significant components for consideration within a professional context and are best excluded. 

    4. Motivational Quotes:

    An amusing observation is the inclusion of quotes attributed to figures like Albert Einstein at the outset of resumes. Incorporating quotes from external sources or adopting someone else’s words without clear pertinence holds limited relevance within the resume context and can undermine the effectiveness of the resume presentation. 

    5. Giving Gyan:

    Prioritizing accomplishments over descriptive explanations of functional roles ensures a more impactful document. Avoid delving into the routine aspects of roles or functions, as the reader is typically familiar with these.

    By adhering to these guidelines, the resulting resume becomes a succinct, impactful representation of the individual’s professional journey.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    A resume serves as a concise snapshot of your qualifications, experience, and skills, allowing employers to quickly evaluate your suitability for roles.

    A resume is a crucial element in building your personal brand, representing your professional identity, and highlighting your strengths.

    Personal brand building involves shaping your image in face-to-face interactions, while online brand building focuses on creating your brand identity in the digital realm through platforms like resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

    About the Authors:

    Kishan Malur – Product Line Manager at VMware

    Nageswara KNR Rao –  Ex-VP, Unisys India Certified Personal Transformation Coach

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