What to write in your resume?

The way we see it. Making a good resume has 3 aspects

  1. What to write in your resume?
  2. How to make sure it looks good?
  3. How to ensure it is reaching the right people?

Picking the first thread - the reality is resumes are seen for a very small amount of time before a decision is made about the candidate. If your resume is missing some key words it’s possible your resume never shows up in research results of recruiters. Read more on how to counter it below.

Here is some very statistical data on what do recruiters look for in a resume

Here is a glimpse

46% : scan for skills first.

23% : look for experience.

15% : pore over qualifications

2% : are interested in personal details

5% : check for rewards and recognitions

10% : note the achievements

Here is an article about what to write in the resume. In a nutshell it says the following things

  1. Structure/ Format - be bold and change it to suit you. There is no doubt, given the small amount of time recruiters have to scan resumes/ anything which hits the eye works.
  2. Summary - A good summary to replace objectives. Which also seems a good suggestion, because summary helps the recruiter determine if you have the right experience they are looking for without gleaming too much into the resume. Although for people who have just started their careers this may not work.
  3. Experience - should align to the job you are looking for, regardless of the entire list of things you have done.

Another article about what not to write in a resume. It may be a more important topic than what to to write, because most people are risk averse, if they don’t find anything risky in your resume, they are more likely to call.

While most points mentioned here you would have come across in other articles, but just want to emphasize two points

  1. Praising yourself - using adjectives in your summary which say you are brilliant in more than one way, is a put off, and this becomes even more important as you move towards middle to senior management. Let the work and objectives you have done, communicate how good you are only.
  2. Writing your experience as per the positions you want - While this sounds simple enough. People don’t often understand what this means. for Instance if you have done a Marketing and Sales job and want to enter Digital Marketing, you should avoid writing lengthy details of what you achieved in Sales, since it doesn’t matter beyond a point. Similarly if you have done consulting and are looking for an Executive Assistant job, then you have to cull out aspects like project/ program management and mention those, instead of purely stating what consulting projects you have done in your past.


A very nice article and 3 templates on what to write in your resume for a newbie, a middle management professional and a creative professional.

Here is another nice article on what to write in resumes, especially the use of action verbs and hard numbers.

Nice article for IT specific senior leadership resumes

A forbes article on mistakes we make when writing resumes. A lot of subtle points are mentioned in the article, along with advice which is not very common. A good read for sure. I found the style of describing your work experience with a company especially refreshing.

Angry Chocolates, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Senior Software Developer

2009 - 2012

Angry Chocolates (now a division of Nestle) was a specialty manufacturer of organic chocolates. I joined Angry to develop applications for in-house use and to customize third-party applications, reporting to the Director of IT.

I created Angry Chocolates’ first sales reporting and administration tool, including documentation, and trained 16 salespeople on its use.
In my Director’s absence during her maternity leave, I served as Acting Manager of the IT department.
I left Angry when the company was sold to Nestle in 2012.


Two articles from Harvard Business Review India, on formation of resumes.

Given the popularity of this thread, we will be adding more info here. Below is an article giving a perspective of how parsers/ resume optimizers work and what you need to do. We have tried to pick up an article from nytimes to give you a more credible perspective.

A simple set of advice on Resumes for senior level employees - what did interest me is we do ignore the fact that a senior level resume gets read a lot more than a junior one.

Here is a tip from a website focussed for women. We like the infographic format mentioned in the article, though it is not downloadable, but one can easily get a similar one created using services like a Fiverr. There are also some more related articles at the bottom of the page.

A forbes article on what apart from resume one needs to focus on. It has 3 points essentially

  1. Your Personal Story - many amongst us have been asked the classical question “Tell me about yourself?”, having a strong well thought out story, highlighting points, including personal challenges faced in lifetime can be great. I remember a senior level exec interview, who spoke about his struggle to have children as part of his intro. Your story gives you an opportunity to connect at a different level and not be cliched.
  2. Expressing Gratitude - If you get opportunity for email interaction with the decision maker, before or after your interview, your grammar and english has to be perfect. Everyone is looking to find mistakes in you, one shouldn’t give them an opportunity for it.
  3. Applying Skills - A lot of people, especially in tech space, are being asked to work on projects before being considered, therefore preparing a portfolio of your work can be fantastic.


Here are three articles on what to avoid in a resume, especially interesting was to exclude photos - in the age of LinkedIn. If anyone knows about this, it will be pretty interesting to hear.

never to include a headshot in a resume “unless you’re pursuing a career as a news anchor, actor or other public-facing roles in the entertainment industry.”

She adds, “recruiters have been known to dismiss these applications without giving them a second glance to ensure they aren’t accused of discrimination.”


What fonts should one use in a resume - does it have any bearing? Well there is a full article about it

Given its the age of computers and AI. Here is a simple article on how to beat computers. Interestingly it recommends doing away with summaries and objectives, and focussing on keywords and simple formatting (infographic resumes a no no)

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Here are some professional Dressing Tips to Dress According to your resume to have a positive first impression.

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Bragging in Resume - you can - but do it through numbers, not adjectives

A very nice forbes story with good number of examples and explanations for resume writing. Completely worth your time.


Forbes article on writing summaries and how most of us end up writing the same boring zombie language, trying to sound like every other candidate, not letting our personality and passion shine.