Polishing Your Resume Before Applying For a New Job

A resume is your first impression on your prospective employer. You better spend quality time on polishing your resume before applying for a new job. In this article, we will discuss some of the tips and tricks that I have found to be extremely useful in getting your resume shortlisted.

Avoid Walk-ins and Bulk Hiring Processes

I know, it might sound a bit counter-intuitive. But once I have got some experience, I apply for jobs that have some specific and clear requirements. In that case, I will be able to know the type of project and the future team that I will work on during the interview process.

Generally, walk-ins do not tend to better judge the potential candidate and usually do not give the candidates a better chance to evaluate the job. The hiring companies do not generally have a clear vision about the deployment of resources. And most importantly, you lose bargaining power in terms of salary negotiations.

Of course, all this is true for service-based organizations. If its the (rare) case of a product based company, things change. Product based companies generally have a single product or a fixed set of products on which the new talent will be deployed. You will most likely end up in the team of the interviewer. And product based companies usually pay better than their service-based counterparts.

Now all this is just my general observation and experience. The real world is filled with randomness and nothing can be confined to a set of well-written rules. So expect the unexpected.

Target a Company and Do Some Research

Whenever I am looking for a job change, I select a specific company where I will apply and do some research to understand the work culture and type of job that I might get.

I don’t apply for every job opening that I find on job search sites. Instead, I take time to learn about the company and shortlist a few of them that fits my parameters. Then, I apply to one or two of the top companies that I have shortlisted and I give everything I have to get in.

My research starts with the job description itself. The type of tools and technologies that are required, the roles and responsibilities listed, etc. Then I do a general google search to see what people are talking about the company. Sometimes you might also get to know if the customers are happy with it. Then comes glassdoor, where you can find the salary range and the reviews from the current and past employees. I read a lot of reviews. Then I head towards the interview section where you can have a peek inside the interview process and what types of questions you might face and what are the experiences of the past interviewers.

Then lastly, visit the company’s official website to learn about the management and the type of work they are in to. All this helps in shortlisting the company. I look for negative points like frustrated customers/employees, technological skillset mismatch, extremely lower salaries/increments. If I find more of such negative flags, I become cautious.

Polish Your Resume, For Every Job That You Apply

Yes, that’s right. I don’t use a common resume for all the jobs. The reason is simple, not all jobs have the same requirement.

Circles of knowledge

The left circle is the circle of your knowledge that you have built up based on your research. This circle tells you about the types of requirements and qualities that are most important to this particular job. This could be anything ranging from experience with a specific tool or technology, experience working on a certain type of project, leadership skills, or anything else.

The right circle is the current skill set that you have. This is fixed and can’t be changed over a very short time.

The intersection of these two circles makes you a better or worse fit for any given job. I highlight the portion of my resume that falls at the intersection point.

For example, at one of the jobs that I applied, I got to know that they put a lot of emphasis on knowledge of design patterns and also testing.

I highlighted the part that talked about unit testing and described how I created a base testing framework in one of the projects in the past. Also, in the project description section, I included a row mentioning the design patterns that we had used.

Result? The recruiter said that I am a “great fit” for the job.

Now it should be obvious that why I don’t use the same resume for all the applications. The right circle changes depending on the job. Hence, the section of intersection also keeps on changing.

High-level Structure of a Resume

Even though the contents of my resume keeps on changing, I have designed a concrete high-level structure that remains the same. This allows me to do quick edits and customize the resume quickly.

The first section consists of an introduction and a profile summary. The introduction is usually 2-3 sentences and the¬†profile summary consists of 7-10 bullet points that highlight what I have achieved in my past jobs. Note this, “highlight what I have achieved” and not “what I have done”. I like to represent myself as an “achiever” rather than a “doer”.

Achievements could be anything from helping clients meet a deadline in a highly ambitious timeframe, achieving performance improvements, improving quality among others.

Next comes the experience section that describes in detail my roles and responsibilities in past organizations along with the project details.

Then come the section for academics and professional certificates. A really short section that does not take much of space. Only consist of the highest educational degree.

Lastly, there are public artefacts that contain links to my blog, GitHub profile, and other things that I find relevant.

And yes, all this fits really well in two pages. The interviewer immediately loses interests if the resume has more than two pages. Extra pages should be included only when it is absolutely required and when you have a lot of experience. I never went beyond two.

Things that I avoid in resume are the team size in project details and my hobbies. Its just a matter of personal preference. No one ever asked me why hobbies are missing in my resume.

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