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Hook 'Em

March 27, 2003 10:36 IST

Is your online résumé any different from a thousand others? It had better be

When they first realised they could post résumés online, my friends and neighbours jumped. They said it would be bigger than sliced bread, French fries and the Chinese Bhel sold by the guy around the corner. That was a while ago. They were right, to a certain extent, but the guy around the corner has moved on to something he calls a Jain Bhel now.

Which brings me to my point: Advertising yourself online by posting résumés may sound good, but it isn't easy. It requires a meticulous approach and effective techniques, more so because organisations and placement professionals now increasingly rely on the Internet to source talent. The job seeking community also tends to log on a lot more and, given the huge number of other potential candidates, your résumé had better be good.

The most crucial element in an online résumé is catching a prospective employer's attention and conveying the essence quickly. Pramiti, Associate Product Manager, JobsAhead, reveals that recruiters and HR managers, on an average, spend merely a couple of minutes on each résumé. "It is extremely important that the résumé captures one's attention within 5 seconds. Its structure needs to be such that a reader gets the right information in the easiest manner."

The purpose isn't an instant job, of course, but at least an interview call. Your résumé should make you stand out from the rest, highlight your uniqueness and point to your abilities with reference to the job in question. Is it, then, vital to create customised résumés that fit particular slots? "While the broad structure and core remains the same, there can be minor modifications or additions made while applying to different jobs," says Pramiti. According to her, one should highlight a specific activity or responsibility to a greater degree, depending on job profiles.

Gayatri Budha, Brand Manager, Monster India, agrees, adding that "information in the career summary should certainly be targeted to the job one is applying for. Similarly, one should emphasise skills pertinent to the target job." The effective use of bullets, lines and bold text can do this well enough. To make a résumé more dynamic, the proper use of HTML tags is also advised. Normally, online recruiting sites have their own templates for candidates to fill in. Again, however, it all depends on how you coin your words and fill in data. Some sites also allow the use of HTML tags to make résumés look better.

One of the biggest advantages of online recruiting is the search factor. Sites enable employers to search for potential employees by using keywords related to the profession. The efficient selection of keywords, while creating a résumé, thus holds some significance. Keywords are nouns or short phrases that concretely describe your experience and education, and that might be used to find your résumé in a database. It is important to come up with fitting keywords and avoid those that could be misleading. For example, mentioning the word CEO often won't help if you can't handle more responsibilities than a receptionist.

Then there is the structure of your résumé. According to Budha, all résumés should start with a career summary, followed by work experience in reverse chronological order, educational background and personal information. If you can add a well-written objective, it will make your résumé more attractive. However, if the content isn't good enough, it is better to avoid it than to use clichés such as "Looking for a challenging role..."

While registering at a career site, remember -- once your résumé goes online, it is available for public viewing. Consider it a public document that is outside your control, and always take a good second look before submission. Another common query: Should you send your résumé to a potential employer via snail mail or online via a recruiting site? Budha prefers the latter. "When a candidate applies online, the task of collectively screening the candidate database becomes a lot easier for an employer. Soon, applying online will probably be the preferred mode."

Finally, as résumés are ultimately tools promoting your talent and qualifications, most career consultants recommend expert help. Most major job sites provide this sort of help as a paid service. "An expert understands what an eye-catching résumé ought to be like. He or she also has a strong knowledge of industry trends, résumé norms, the proper use of language, etc," says Pramiti. So, now you know.


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