The art of resume writing. Get your hands dirty!

According to research, recruiters spend an average of only “6 seconds” on each resume. It is one advertisement among many thousands, competing for attention. You have to think carefully about what to say and how to say it so the hiring manager thinks, ‘This person can do what I need done”. In essence, it is about getting your hands dirty as you begin to paint, the canvas is all yours.

In this article, I would like to share my own experiences with regard to some of the basic, fundamental approaches that one can leverage as one goes about building their marketing brochure i.e., Resume or CV.

  1. Self-introspection: Often times, we ignore the exponential power of soul searching, and really looking back at our careers in a detached, objective manner. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a few years into your corporate journey, it doesn’t matter. You should be able to think about the building blocks, ingredients, components that you might want to see in the final product (resume). Towards the end of it, you should visualise & obsess over the BIG picture you are about to paint.
  2. Resume Headline & Summary: It is the “Title”of the picture about to be painted, it’s about dropping obvious hints to your audience about what type of story are you going to tell them. An example would be “Start-Up Builder * Brand Strategist * Marketing Head” or “Product | People | Engineering | Operations |. Remember, in the 20:20 age we are living in, attention span is in short supply. Coherence is absolutely key — the big picture, headline and what’s about to come next cannot be inconsistent.
  3. Open strong: The first 15–20 words of your resume are critically important “because that’s how long you usually have a hiring manager’s attention,” says John Lees, a UK-based career strategist and author of Knockout CV. It’s a very rich, very brief elevator pitch. Here are some relevant examples “Global Finance & Accounting executive with diverse experience in leading compliance, accounting, systems and change management projects in Asia, Europe, North and Latin America” or Six sigma certified analyst who enjoys solving business problems using statistical techniques”.
  4. Be selective: It’s tempting to list every job, accomplishment, volunteer assignment, skill, and degree you’ve ever had. But if it doesn’t contribute to convincing the hiring manager to talk to you, then take it out. “Led a team of 8 recruiting managers and closed 130 mid-level positions in FY2019” is a quantifiable, impactful statement versus “Managed a strong team of talent management professionals”. One of my mentors who is a top notch HR professional based in Singapore and recruits only for C-suite, tells me that once you’ve created the first draft of resume, reduce it by 50%. Reduce it after every review until it reaches a point where there’s no further culling opportunity.
  5. Share accomplishments, not responsibilities: My rule of thumb is that 95% of what you talk about should be framed as accomplishments. If you’re able to attach percentages or dollar signs, people will pay even more attention. “Reduced supply chain expenses by ~$10M, 10% of total supply expenses, in two years” or “Regained XYZ’s A rating, raised customer service scores from 18th to 50th percentile, and recaptured ~$1M at-risk dollars” are some good examples. Of course, you can’t and you shouldn’t quantify everything. It is a resume, not an accounting report.
  6. Get the order right: Experts suggest adding an accomplishments section right after your opener that makes the bridge between your experience and the job requirements. It makes the reader sit up straight and say “Holy cow, I want to talk to her. Not because of who she is but because of what’s she’s done.” A lot of it depends on the big picture and the story you’d like to narrate. Let the mystery unfold in a way that keeps the audience interested and notice things you want them to notice most in a flow that you direct.
  7. Other important pointers:
  • Avoid spelling mistakes. Period. Avoid grammatical errors. Period. For your audience, it may just be sign of things to come.
  • Keep it short and impactful. The length of the resume has nothing to do with your suitability or attractiveness to the hiring manager — remember the 6 seconds rule.
  • It can be hard to be objective about your own experience and accomplishments. Many people overstate — or understate — their achievements or struggle to find the right words. Get help from friends, mentors or a professional for sanity & oversight.
  • Don’t think you can get away with having just one resume. “You can have a foundational resume that compellingly articulates the most important information, but you have to alter it for each opportunity. They don’t have to be radically different but they need to do the job for each situation.
  • Given the pervasiveness of LinkedIn as a platform used by the hiring organisations across the world, it is important that content of resume are in alignment with LinkedIn profile. Any disconnect coupled with short attention span and scores of competing resumes, will certainly nullify your candidature.

I am quite passionate to help professionals who are looking for that next big break or pursuing a dream role in their dream company. Whether it is about building an impactful resume or rocking that critical interview and taking charge. Kindly reach out to me at for any 1:1 coaching opportunities. Until then, happy painting!

Medium for good. Wanderer. Lover of Simplicity. Ex: Google, Apple. Qualified Chartered Accountant with over 17 years of global corporate experience.