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First Things First -- Preparing a Good Resume

As the title says first things first, it’s very important to have good and attractive resume to get an interview call or to get shortlisted. It is always advised to start writing your own resume from scratch instead of copying/following someone else's content or template. So here are some points you should keep in mind before start writing your resume.
  • Most of the times your resume will be first reviewed and shortlisted by HR officers, who rarely have technical knowledge, they just look for some keywords provided by the technical manager. Keywords like Verilog, Tools names, years of experience, etc.
  • The reviewer usually takes less than 5 minutes (or 3 minutes) to go through your resume, so make it concise.
  • Resume should not (or never) be greater than two pages. Don't try to act smart by using small/tiny font sizes.
  • First page should present your best qualities. It’s not like you start low and finish high, in resume you have to always start HIGH.
  • Don't make a fancy or colourful resume, keep it strictly professional, use formal fonts like Verdana, Time New Roman, etc. Importantly, maintain proper alignment (not zigzag).
  • Contact details: phone number and personal email-id are sufficient. Write them in the first page of the resume - after the name or in the header (top right corner).

First Page
: Name, Summary, Skills, Work Experience, Education

Name: Write your full name.

Summary: First page should present your best qualities. Start with a summary of your profile which should give an idea about your number of years of work experience, the key skills you possess and the type of job you are looking for. Summary is usually 2-3 lines long. Use simple language, no need to be bombastic.

Skills include programming languages or HDLs, Technologies known, familiar Tools, etc. If you have a very basic knowledge in something say VHDL, then it is recommended not to mention it. If you think it's really helps to include it then you may write something in brackets like "VHDL (beginner)". I have seen many people writing this: "Operating systems: DOS, Windows 98/2000/XP, Linux", mentioning OS in resume has a wrong understanding by many. It doesn't mean that you used that particular OS, it means that you know "how that particular OS works", like its design, properties, merits, limitations, uses etc. If you just know how to create/delete a file or how to use some commands on OS, then don't mention it.

Work Experience: For each company you worked in (including current company), mention your designation, company name, location and period. You can include any internship(s) you did, just say "summer intern" or similar thing as the designation. Always write the list in chronological order from latest to oldest.

Education: Mention two or three latest levels of education you attended like "Masters and Bachelors" or "Masters, Bachelors and Class XII" or etc. As your work experience keeps increasing, the significance of this section keeps coming down. A fresher or less than 2 years experienced candidate will definitely place this section in first page.

If you still have some space left, then write about your publications. If you don't have any research papers then start writing about your projects.

Second Page
: Projects, Honors/Achievements, Personal information,

Projects: List 3-5 best projects you did, in chronological order. Give title, location, period, Technologies used and abstract. Restrict abstract to 4 (or may be 5 if you have space) lines. Don't write everything about the project in resume, so that the interviewer may ask you some questions about it, which by the way should be an advantage. As you expect this scenario, you will prepare and will feel confident and comfortable in the interview. Most likely you will be able to give nice explanation and impress the interviewer.

Honors/Achievements: Enumerate all the honors like scholarships, awards, prizes etc.

Personal information: Contact information, Languages known, etc.

This is a general way of writing a resume, there is no hard and fast rule/template that you should follow the one given above. One always has the liberty to prepare a resume as he/she likes it. But once you are done check whether you will shortlist your own resume if you are the person who is reviewing it!

Last but the not the least, always perform a word to word spell check manually. Don't trust MS-Word or some other spell check software. Also get it reviewed by your friends and colleagues.


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