Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action, says Ian Fleming. Agent 007 or James Bond, his creation would agree. You agree too and suspect there is no coincidence when your resume repeatedly fails to get you a shortlist for well suited job vacancies. Which of these 10 steps of enemy action have torpedoed your resume’s chances in the recruitment team’s hands?
For Your Eyes Only
007 is a secret agent. So your resume should be completely confidential too. No eyes other than yours see it before it goes to a recruiter. Also, you do not believe in criticism of what you have written. Meanwhile, the recruiter does not see your resume like you do and trashes it in five seconds finding it ordinary and even irrelevant. Other job-seekers who got short listed had polished their resumes with inputs from multiple friends.
Licence to Fill
James Bond almost never refers to his past exploits over nearly 60 years of Hollywood. You miss that cue and choose to explain your entire career over six pages of size six font. But the average recruiter spends about six seconds on a CV decision. Your CV lands in the out tray while the in tray is filled with one page resumes or two pages for 20+ years of experience. These CVs avoid writing much about older jobs, irrelevant hobbies or information like a residence address.
Yesterday Never Dies
Or perhaps No Time to Write. You have a single weapon that you shoot each time there is a target job. Your old CV simply takes a single click to send and you target multiple job applications in an hour. Your shots miss each target. The successful candidate was the sniper who took hours to line up his target by reading the job description, learning about the company and role and then customising his resume to prune, reword and highlight what was important to the employer.
The resume is about you. So you use personal pronouns including “I”, “me”, “we” in your resume. Your CV stands out in the recruiter’s hands, however, for the wrong reasons. Regular resume writers know that using a personal pronoun as the subject or object of a sentence is not expected. Instead they start bullet points with an active verb like ‘Managed a team of five engineers’.
Lie Another Day
A secret agent is allowed to spin stories. So you exaggerate, use partial facts or someone else’s achievements. In most places, the recruiter’s existing knowledge and access to the internet catches the lie. Where you get a shortlist or a job, the situation is worse. A termination, black-listing and a permanent blot on reputation follows after a post hiring background verification including a document and reference check.
The Word is Not Enough
You believe a picture is worth a thousand words. And that what you see is what you get. So you include your own passport photograph at the top of your CV and then maybe add a few graphs or colourful designs for good measure. Which is all very well if you are auditioning for Bollywood. Or showing off your creative abilities for a designer or artist’s role. For all other purposes, the ATS—applicant tracking software—rejects your resume finding it unreadable. Thereafter the recruiter overlooks it in favour of standard professional resumes minus pictures and designs.
A View to a Skill
Your manager agrees that you are hardworking and smart. The job description calls for diligence and professionalism. You put these words in your resume. And yet your resume does not make it to the recruiter’s laptop. A recruiter searches for hard skills like “python” and “Tally” and not for subjective attributes like “hardworking” or “diligent”.
On Her Majesty’s General Service
You are proud of the responsibilities you handle in your role. And you put it all in your resume. The recruiter wonders why you wrote down a job description instead of a resume. And dumps it. Meanwhile, the smart resume writer has written about his personal achievements and not his duties, role or responsibilities thus making the CV relatable and comparable.
Or perhaps The Man with the Golden Draft. You have never heard of spell check. Nor asked someone for a grammar check. Your resume contains an extra digit or wrong dates or even incorrect contact details. After all everyone makes mistakes and you do not check what you have once drafted. But the recruiter seems to not understand why your telephone is unreachable. With the errors and typos, she assumes that the job is not important for you.
Quantum of Absence
You have a way with words. Your resume is all poetry and no quant. The recruiter is unable to interpret what smartest salesperson means. She decides it’s not worth wasting an interview. The shortlist includes your friend who has put in the numbers and a benchmark while writing— achieved Rs 1.1 crore sales, 20% above the target and 2nd highest in team of 10.
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