4 Resume tips to go from no interview calls for 3 months to 5 calls in just 3 weeks

A good resume will open doors to more job interviews. Reading others’ resume is a boring task, hence resumes are mostly scanned. So, you need to have good resume writing skills to get more job interviews. Here are 4 tips that I gave a former colleague of mine, which got the ball rolling from
no interview calls for 3 months to 5 calls in just 3 weeks.

#1. First page is the key

Mostly the first-page is read, and the remaining pages are scanned. My former colleague had vital information scattered throughout his 4 page long resume. I asked him to move the key selling points to the top-half of the first-page. First page should summarise your strengths, skills and accomplishments without any fluffy statements  like “A motivated developer …”, “Highly skilled in….”, etc. It is much better to say:

  • Performance tuned a JBoss and Spring boot based online insurance application, which previously came down almost daily, became a true 24×7 application at BrandName Ltd.
  • Spearheaded the “Quick Wins” project by working very closely with the business and end users to improve the current website’s ranking from being 23rd to 6th in just 3 months at XYZ Ltd.
  • Instrumental in designing & migrating 2.5 TB of data to a 120 node cluster Data Lake with both batch & near real-time feeds into multiple layers at ABC Ltd.

Selling can include:

  • Working for a brand-name company or working for a small company as a multi-skilled goto person –  taking charge of design to development, provisioning the cloud infrastructure to continuous delivery pipelines, unit tests to performance testing, and so on. 
  • Quantified on the job accomplishments – Improved SLAs like response times, throughput, latency, true 24×7 app building, etc.
  • Having quantifiable sought-after skills – 3 years Spring boot, 4 years Spark, 2 years micro services architecture, etc
  • Experience with agile practices – Scrum, Spotify, etc
  • Solving problems related to 16 technical key areas.
  • Domain knowledge – banking, telecom, retail, etc
  • Experience with mission critical, distributed and high volume/low latency systems – Online trading systems, Next Best Action campaigning systems, Data science & data engineering projects, etc

#2. Target your resume based on the role and job specification

My colleague had held a number of roles over his 10 year work experience like production support, test analyst, and business analyst. He himself was not too sure about his next ideal role. The resume was too generic, and he was applying for a number of roles like senior BA, scrum master, technical project manager, and business project manager with a single resume. This revealed that his resume was not properly targeted. I asked him to have separate resumes targeting different roles. When you are targeting a particular role,  leave out any trivial information not related to that targeted role.

“Don’t expect your prospective employer to match your skills with a suitable role”

So, never ever have vague career objectives like “A suitable role in IT where my skills in ……”. Please have a clearly defined career objective or don’t have an objective section at all. Just, start with “Professional Summary”  & “Achievements” sections as shown at Sample Java Resume.

#3. Write catchy statements with 5 key aspects

His resume listed basic tasks that he had performed with lengthy phrases like “My responsibilities included ….blah blah“, and did not cover the 7 aspects listed below where applicable.  Employers are more interested in the outcome of the task you performed than just providing a shopping list of tasks you had performed. Your CV must be results oriented.

To write an effective resume, you do not have to hard sell or make any false claims, but you need to get over your shyness and unwillingness to toot your own horn. If you cannot, who can? If you are willing to take some extra effort to learn and apply some of the guidelines discussed here and be more creative in preparing your resume, then you will definitely get a better response from prospective employers than people with better credentials. So, to win an interview, you should write a resume that is:

1. Results oriented: E.g. Designed and developed a payment and claims module, which is capable of handling 450 requests per second and runs as a true 24 x 7 system module.

2. Key areas driven: E.g. In my watchful eye increased the unit test coverage from 30% to 70%.

3. Soft skills and personal attributes are captured: E.g. Communicated the detailed design and solution architecture to cross-functional teams like developers, business users, testers, external vendors, and management.

4. Sought-after technologies and frameworks are mentioned: E.g. Developed various data-processing and back office processing applications for telecommunication industries using Spring 3.0, Hibernate 4.0, AngularJS, RESTful web services, JMS, JMX, Websphere MQ and Ajax.

5. Strengths are highlighted: E.g. Over 9 years of programming experience with numerous technologies of which 7+ years in Java/JEE based design and development.

Each of this aspect was discussed in detail with lots of eye catching phrases in the PDF downloads for members entitled “Java/JEE Resume Companion”.

#4: Make sure that your resume addresses the 7C’s

My colleague’s initial resume failed to impress on C’s 2, 4, and 6. The benchmark of a good resume is if it is getting noticed. If you are getting reasonable call backs then don’t change anything drastically. Your resume is good enough to be noticed and you will eventually land a job by improving your performance at the interviews. If you aren’t getting noticed at all then you need to spruce your resume by experimenting different things. Remember to verify that your resume covers the 7 C’s.

1. Clear: Make sure that it is easy to understand. Use plain English with action verbs. It is worth getting someone to cast his/her eye over.

E.g. Awarded outstanding achievement for coming in just 2 months before the deadline in a development effort that was going on for 18 months to contribute significantly to fast track development where some home grown Java based frameworks and technologies had to be quickly learned.

2. Concise: Your resume is not a detailed list of your past jobs with irrelevant information, especially if you are an experienced professional. Make sure that it concentrates on your selling points in 2-4 pages. Focus on your relevant experience and accomplishments.

Q. How do you write clearly & concisely?
A. Avoid long-winded phrases. Try to begin each statement with an action verb like designed, developed, spearheaded, improved, fixed, initiated, etc or “in my leadership…”, “in my watchful eyes…”, etc. Use bullet points where appropriate, especially in listing the key tasks and achievements, and try to avoid narrative style because the vital piece of information can get buried or scattered.

3. Correct: Check your facts, spelling, and grammar. It is worth getting someone else to check.

4. Curiosity: Capture the curiosity of the potential employer to learn more about you in the first page itself. It should be a convenient splash page that summarizes your skills and desirability. When you write your first page, assume that the reader is either too busy to read rest of your pages or had misplaced your remaining pages. Would your first page work on its own?

E.g. Increased the number of JUnit tests from 30+ to 400+ in my watchful eye to improve the overall quality of the pay at pump service.

5. Complete: Have you addressed all the job description criteria to sell you as a well rounded professional as opposed as just a techie? Make sure that soft skills (i.e. non-technical skills) are mentioned as well. For example, if you are applying for an architect role, emphasize that you are a big picture person who is interested in how things fit in with the whole organization.

E.g : Provided technical leadership on the architecture, design, and successful implementation of a number of mission critical 24×7 Java/JEE applications valued from $30 to $50 million at a number of organizations including Big Bank 1, Brand Name Insurance, and Retail Giant.

E.g : Enjoyed repeated success in understanding business expectations, building effective solutions, and facilitating agile development practices for industries in finance, insurance, telecom, and retail.

6. Convincing: Do not just say that “I am an excellent leader”. It is more convincing to say that “Led a team of 15 developers, analysts, and outside consultants to implement an online insurance system with a budget of $3.5 million that interfaces with other legacy systems.” This will not only have more credibility, but also gives the employer a reason to ask follow-up questions in an interview. So, focus more on what you actually accomplished rather than what your responsibilities were.

E.g. Instrumental in building our Java/JEE consultancy teams at Consultancy Ltd to grow from 6 consultants to 25 consultants and 70% increase in technical pre-sales activity with 80% success rate in placing the consultants at client sites.

7. Courteous: How would you feel if you read the resume? Do not come cross as an individual who is disrespectful, vulgar, or someone with “I know it all” attitude. Also, do not come across as a self centered with “I” and I’m.

1. Detailed Resume writing resources
2. Sample Java/JEE Resumes
3. Detailed job hunting resources

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