To do that ... I happen to write!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Writing Talent (Not the real, but resume one)

If you're serious about making resume, well, don't be. In case you've done something in your last four years, your pages would be overflowing, if you haven't, well start getting creative.

Core companies would look at your academics, Finance companies would look at your CG along with your aptitude test full of MAL250 questions (probability) - so that primarily leaves consults and other such analytic firms who will actually do justice by investing time in reading through your creative writing paper.

For making your CV, I don't think you need to know anything beyond this blog post by Sohil Bhagat:

In case you're still unsatiated by his direct methods try the little roundabout post by Abhimanyu Kothari to get a hang of essentially the same thing:

Part 2 and Part 3 of the same can be found on his blog, once you're there.

Now, if you are still scratching your head, stamping your feet, and picking your nose in sheer indignation of the simplicity of it all - allow me to do my bit to increase the mayhem a notch further - here's my creative writing class (*applaud*) but only after an essentially obvious disclaimer -

"Each person has his own way of being creative. Divergent views are accepted as comments"

Step 1. Preparation

Before you actually lick your keyboard typing your achievements, pick up a pen n paper. In case you've already started typing your CV on your screen - leave that and pick up a pen n paper. Jot down all the things that you've done in your life - since your high school till today. Oh, and it's great fun for once - so do this even if you're not making a CV seriously. Don't leave anything out - write every single darn worthwhile thing that you've done in your life in last 5-6 years.

While some of the achievements like JEE Rank, Board %age, Scholarships etc are just one liners, projects, extra-curricular, Internships, PORs, other interests fold an entire history into themselves, as you remember in slow motion those countless things that you did to inch towards your goal. Sometimes you even wake up in the middle of night to write a forgotten point - it's great fun.

For each these things, think of what was the situation, what did you do, and what did you eventually achieve. Write as many points as you can under each heading. For e.g.

Mess Secy, Stok Range Hostel, 2010-2011

Situation - Long queues in mess for food - average waiting time 15 minutes. High tempers running in the crowd. Daily stone pelting on my room and public burning of effigies of house secy, warder and my own.

What did I do - Degraded the mess food by diverting funds. Stopped fried rice service during dinner. Stopped menu rotation and limited sweets to only Sunday

Achievement - Average waiting time drops to 5 minutes; 200% increase in efficiency. After initial increase in slogan shouting and stone pelting the situation eases out. Eventually awarded 'freedom of house' or suchlike award

Having this kind of list ready also gives you a good material for interview preparations as well. For interviews / essays etc. you can easily club these points under some of your strengths, weaknesses, blunders, proud achievements, great learning etc. and spell out a favoloso tale!

Step 2. Structure

Now that you've your entire life on the paper - select thing you feel are important enough. That judgement lies entirely with you. Think what do you want to portray yourself as, in fact that's usually easy because 4 years is a short span of time to not have done so many divergent things that you can't make a story of yourself. Those who have - *respect*.

So if you think a little you'll find a theme for yourself. People also call it 'spikes' in your CV. Basically what you're good at doing - Academics ? Dance ? Technical activities ? Quizzing ? Debating ? Sports ? A born Leader ? Anything constructive counts!

Now that you know your studness - start combining your points - for e.g. if you are a swimming stud and also have been captain of your team and have participated in your school level and in Inter IIT - just combine all the points. Better combine them than scatter them all over. You might think of taking Captain to POR section, but do that only if you have nothing there.

That brings me to the next point - after having done all the P&C to combine things - check if your resume is well balanced. Great that you have spikes in some sections - but try to see that you don't leave others sections blank. It sometimes so happens that you've concentrated your efforts in one area, and that's OK - but at the same time try to see that while being a great singer have you ever taken some position where you had the 'responsibility' of delivering results - say like a composer of the group song or something like that. Move that to your POR section in case that is empty.

Finally it's a good habit to follow this ordering while writing anything descriptive (I remember this being advised by my senior - so basically it's a long followed tradition)

1. Name - Place - Duration (Mess Secretary, Stok Hostel, IIT Delhi, 2009-10)
In case the thing (intern company / organization) which you're talking about is not as well knows as Mess Secy or say Tata Motors - spend one line talking about your organization

2. Context Setting (What was the situation)
Took charge of a highly disorganized mess with an average waiting time of over 20 minutes due to good food being served

3. Work (What did you do)
Led a 10 member body to proactively degrade food in merely 1 month, mishandled funds worth INR 12 lacs in the duration

4. Results (What did you achieve)
Brought down waiting time to under 5 mins, satisfaction level in mess survey increased by 200%

And it is usually nice to end your points with some overarching award, if any.
Awarded freedom of the house for exceptional contribution as a Mess Secretary

Check some of the previous year resumes to get a hang of the Step 2! Or review the aforementioned blogs!

Step 3. Review

By now, that you've completely lost being creative, comes the most 'bore' step. Reviews.
Unfortunately, it is also the most time consuming step. Give at least 2-3 weeks for this. Not because it take a lot of time, but because people who are going to review it will not be free as per your requirements!

Be ready for being nagged for mistakes like extra space, spellings, grammar, poor formatting, poor word selection etc - do your best to review such things yourselves or with your peers so that others can look at more important things!


1. 1 point - 1 line?
Yes. A few exceptions allowed

2. How much detailing is required?
Keep your communication very crisp - merciless cut down extra details. The larger message should be graspable.

3. How many points per head?
Projects / Internships - 3/4 points enough; Extra Co / POR - more than 3/4 points only if the thing was pretty long and stud!

4. Should I write things like Activity Head etc?

5. Are academics important?
Yes. Now you realize :P Reputed paper publications have quite a repute

6.How technical should the projects be?
Depends - Would prefer to make it more techy for core / fin companies and less for others. However, it is always best to explain how your project as if explaining to a layman - especially the aim and achievement of it. You did some hi-fi "software X" coding to segregate 7 layers microchip management into 2 layers by xyloheptanone software technique. WoW. But what does that mean? Less time? Better efficiency? Less Power? More computing capacity? Do some context setting for those who don't know about your field.

7. Should I write in POR what happened or what did I do.
Write what you did. The Resume is about you. O'course write the overall achievement of the thing, but the focus should be what did you do and what resulted because of that.

8. Other Interests a compulsory thing?
No. Wouldn't affect your shortlist anyways. If the point is so stud you would have moved it to mainstream. 'Other interest' usually gives a good talking point during the interview

And, no - it is not fine to write points such as "I won bla bla" or "I led zzz" or "was the captain" - checkers know it is YOUR CV, so no need to emphasize that again, i.e. drop all possessive nouns and simply say "Winner, bla bla, zzz year" or "Won bla bla among 100 participants etc"

Happy Resuming!


  1. Here's an FAQ people would be dying to ask:
    Is it necessary to be completely truthful in my resume?

  2. LOL. Everyone man for his own ethics.

  3. Really liked the put-everything-on-paper-first stuff..I knew there was something wrong with the way we used to go bout it, writing the formatted resume directly isn't a good idea.
    Thank you :)

  4. Really helpful! Especially the FAQs..!
    Thanks a lot Nishant :)