The Art of Storytelling

I recall my career service coordinator at my university telling me that a resume is your story. As the protagonist and author of your story, it is hard to imagine anyone else doing a better job writing it but yourself. He shared this insight with me more than a decade ago, but it still stands true. However, I have learned with experience that a resume isn't a complete story, but a collection of significant chapters of that story. It is crucial to do your homework to paint a picture of your career, and project yourself in the best light.



The last few months have been chaotic. Clients are more selective as they haven't had candidates work from home on such a large scale. To stand out against the competition, candidates need to have a great resume. Coming from a talent acquisition agency environment, I would like to share my experience with what kind of resumes catches my attention. 


Agency recruiters work on a large volume of requirements and work with diverse candidates every day. A typical day for a recruiter involves reviewing around 50 resumes and talking to 30-40 candidates. Whether your resume reaches recruiters or ATS, the critical point to remember is to submit a resume that speaks to the job to which one is applying. With experience, I have learned what kind of resume typically works for our hiring managers and me.




There are scores of articles and templates detailing how to frame a resume. You will be fine just following these articles. 


I don't bother too much with resume formatting and style. I do have a pet peeve, however. I find it challenging to accept resumes with spelling mistakes, especially when you have spell-check available. It is always good to get a second pair of eyes to review the resume before submitting it. 




Nobody talks about the summary, so I feel it is essential to talk about it. Most resumes start with the standard summary/objective. The objective should convey a snapshot of the candidate's intent, experience, and skills. If the summary states that the candidate has five years of experience working with JS frameworks, I will be looking for those details in the project experience. The summary is like an index to the project experience.




I know this feels like a 'Duh' moment, but it needs to be said. If the candidate has little or no experience with a particular technology, it is best to omit that from the resume. Honesty goes a long way in creating a long-lasting relationship with recruiters.


Recruiters review about 50-60 resumes for multiple positions on a single day. After a few months, most recruiters can pick patterns in the resume. If recruiters start seeing the same lines and terminology in multiple resumes, it is not going to bode well for the candidates. Originality is always appreciated and respected. 




KISS - 'Keep it Simple and Specific.' I look for short and simple bullet points to convey the specific work done. I love to see numbers if only and if it applies to the situation. If you choose to include numbers, be sure to paint the bigger picture to show the impact of those numbers. 


The discussion on the number of pages a resume needs to be is debatable. It would be unfair to ask candidates with 20+ years of experience to summarize their resume in 2 pages. At the same time, please understand that recruiters don't have the patience to scan more than four pages. 





My company works mostly in IT positions that attract a large number of candidates. My advice to candidates is to check if they have the mandatory skillsets that the job requires.


Typically, junior recruiters are going first to hit Ctrl+F to look for the key skillset match. Seasoned recruiters will screen the recent relevant experience before scanning through the resume. Any resumes not meeting the mandatory skillset is going to be rejected. It is worth taking the time to customize your resume to the job to which you are applying.




Candidates should confidently use action verbs to showcase their achievements. If you have earned professional certifications, be sure to include them along with the expiration date. It is a welcome change as not many candidates tend to provide dates to recruiters upfront. Also, I love to read about a candidate's interest in sports or professional clubs. If I am reading 30 resumes for a position, these details are like mnemonics that help me remember the candidate.




In today's world, it is surprising to see candidates without a LinkedIn profile. Please make sure that your LinkedIn profile is current and matches your resume. Depending on your application, be prepared to share your portfolio website or GitHub profile. Sometimes blogs and presentations on SlideShare can help grab a recruiter's attention.




Nowadays, a candidate's email to the recruiter is a preface to the resume. If you have gaps in the resume, include it in your resume or email to the recruiter with the reason. If you are interested in relocating, be sure to include it in your email with the justification. Another way to set yourself apart from the crowd is to add your preferred method of communication, and the time you are available to take calls. 


Nobody said writing a resume was easy. Like any good author, understand your audience and their expectations to make your resume spark. With a little hard work, your resume can announce your arrival with a bang.




  1. Recruitment Volumes vary and can be impacted by many factors which are often the organization’s control. You must have seen Check Now IT Recruiters gaining more attention, especially amidst this COVID-19 pandemic.


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