Life in a Corporate -3, Art of Writing Resume

Resume is the generally the corporate identity for any individual. In professional life, this is the first thing shared with anyone. Psychiatrists can even guess the personality of a person by looking at the resume. It is the first impression of you to any stakeholder who wants to engage you. Besides, resume also represents our written communication skills and presentation skills.

 

While making any professional document, it is very important to know the target audience. For resume – anyone from any background can be the audience. In fact, language of the resume should be written in such a manner that any kind of audience can easily understand. Another attribute of resume is that it should be able to generate interest in the reader and the interest must continue till the end. Here are few tips that might help:

 

  1. Short and simple sentences.
  2. Avoid abbreviations. If required, use extension at least first time.
  3. Nouns should be used as it is. (e.g. JUnit, JBoss, WebLogic).
  4. Same tense (past or present) throughout the document.
  5. Avoid repetition of phrases.
  6. Be explicit wherever possible. Write objectively. Avoid ambiguous words like etc., many, approximate. Idea here is – if you don’t know precisely about yourself – who else would know?
  7. Consistency in font, style.
  8. Avoid local references. Resume generally goes to international customers. For them any local reference (name of local university) has no meaning unless it is a well known thing (e.g. IIT, IIM etc.).
  9. Avoid highlighting (using bold) things unless it is of really significant importance.
  10. Grammatically correct. (e.g. no uppercase letter in between a sentence,  full stop at the end etc.)
  11. Avoid using copy paste from other person’s resume.
  12. If you have written any article or blog, it is good to give URL(s).
  13. Header and footer should appear on every page and must be consistent in font.
  14. Project description should be simple and concise so that it is easy to understand by anyone and generates interest.
  15. After finishing the resume, take a print out and verify if everything is in right format, no truncation.
  16. The project history should be in reverse chronological order.

 

Life in a Corporate -4 Quality, a Way of Life

In IT industry, every company talks about Quality. I think there is widespread misperception among IT professionals that quality means quality of the software only. This is not true completely. In my opinion, quality is a way of life. Anything that you do in office should be of the top quality. Quality should be practiced every minute in every small thing that you do. Besides programming, quality is also equally important in the following.

  1. The way we speak
  2. The way we write
  3. Our behavior
  4. Personality (e.g. dressing sense, body language)
  5. The way we eat

I have seen technical people who do great in everything but there are such people also who give less importance to anything which is non-technical and hence end up doing poor communication, bad in building relationship, pathetic in email writing. IT is a technology driven industry. Having great ability to write top quality code may fetch you compliments like ‘great developer”, ‘good programmer’ ‘develops high quality software’ etc. But it may not invite comments like ‘a true professional’, ‘an asset to organization’, ‘top quality professional’, ‘privilege to work with’ etc. To be a true professional, you really have to be top class in everything and not just limited to quality coding. Quality should be like the blood flowing from top to bottom every minute.

In my experience, many people usually give less importance to writing emails. Email is the virtual face of you. The choice of words, tone, knowledge of target audience and clarity reflects your personality. We must take email writing very seriously and strive for perfection in this skill as well. Though definition of Quality is not limited to what is explained in the following diagram, but this diagram explains some of the key attributes of office life where Quality must be practiced.

Life in a Corporate -2 Art of Taking Interview

Interview is a conversation during which you do an assessment of a potential employee if s/he is the right fit for the organization that you represent. Taking interview is a big responsibility. It is not only about asking right questions from the candidate but also to facilitate him or her in such a way that s/he gives his/her best. It is also not about power or luxury being other side of the table, it is about responsibility to find right match for the organization. The interviewer must provide comfortable environment to the interviewee. Treat equally the way you want to be treated in such a situation. Dignity of the interviewee must be upheld. Here are a few tips for interviewer:

  1. Mobile should be either switched off or at least in silent mode.
  2. Start with your own introduction and a glimpse of your company. Never jump into questions straightway. This is rude.
  3. Never sit across the table. It gives a feeling of hierarchy and hence creates a hidden element of fear which in turn is a barrier to bring best out of the candidate. IMO, we should prefer to use a round table and create an environment of freedom.
  4. Ask questions on those areas only which are claimed to be the knowledge areas of the candidate. Objective is not to find out what s/he does not know but to find if s/he knows right thing(s) in her/his area of strength.
  5. Ask leading, objective and open ended questions as far as possible.
  6. Tips to check behavioral skills:
    1. Role Play – It always helps to know candidate &lsquos; thought process, approach, spontaneity and maturity.
    2. Ask the candidate to give examples from the past experience that demonstrates the skill/behavioral attribute in question.
    3. Sometimes candidates try to take credit of the entire team by portraying as if ‘I have done everything and that too from scratch’. Ask the candidate about his/her contribution in that situation, number of other people in team and their role. This will help you delve deep about the credentials.
    4. Give situations or hypothetical scenarios to the candidate then ask his choices, approach etc. This will help read his mind unlike plain vanilla questions which can be answered superficially.
    5. Ask competencies (essential attributes) required to perform his/her job. It will help you know how well s/he understands the job. A follow up discussion could be to ask the candidate to give self-rating on those competencies. It will open the door of next level of discussion
  7. A few questions that may be useful:
    1. If we ask your 2 good and 2 areas of improvements from your colleagues in current company – what will those people say about you? (here is a chance to map candidate’s words with truthfulness).
    2. Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized.
    3. What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?
  8. Questions around aspirations:
    1. How far or close you are to achieve your aspirations (how pragmatic s/he is)
    2. What are missing skills to achieve your aspirations and what is roadmap to fill the gap (clear thoughts and understanding of one’s goals)
    3. What new skills you have added or learnt in the past 1 year that might have helped you bring closer to your goals (how serious s/he is)

Conclude the interview by giving an opportunity to the candidate to ask questions. Do express gratitude; the interviewee has given valuable time to you and your company. Please don’t forgot, you are an ambassador of your company. Based on that conversation during interview, the candidate will make an opinion about you and your company. Be very professional, polite and respectful.

Life in a Corporate -1 Art of Appreciation

I am starting a series of blogs where I will share my thoughts about human behavior in the context of corporate life. The first one in the series is about ‘Art of Appreciation’.

Appreciation is one part of human psychology that brings smile to the other person. Nature has provided human beings abundance ability to appreciate. It does not require any special skill to appreciate someone and it does not cost anything. Objectively, it has following hidden benefits:

  1. If people around you are happy, it will help you also to be happy.
  2. It motivates people and helps improve performance which is required to be successful
  3. If people around you are successful, then as a part of team you are bound to be successful
  4. It brings people closer to each other, increases harmony reduces enmity

Everyone has his own way to appreciate and how s/he wants to be appreciated. There is no rule of thumb to determine what the best way to appreciate is? I am highlighting a few types of appreciations:

  1. Public appreciation or in private
  2. Written or verbal
  3. Formal (email) or informal (skype, test message)
  4. In meetings in presence of peers or one-to-one

Frequency and timing of appreciation is also important. Some people need it too often and for others, once in a while is good enough. Timing of appreciation determines the impact of appreciation. If you appreciate today’s good work tomorrow, it may dilute the impact. Various ways to appreciate are:

  1. Words (can do wonders)
  2. Certificate (friends and family too can cherish)
  3. Monetary Incentives (e.g. movie tickets, gift vouchers, any other form of cash incentive)
  4. Gifts (e.g. book, souvenir)
  5. Bigger Responsibility

Sometime people don’t appreciate. Reasons could be:

  1. Lack of awareness about the importance of appreciation
  2. Peer competition prevents people appreciating others. It’s a myth that by appreciating, they are giving away advantage to peers and bringing others in limelight. In other words, people want to take all the credit themselves and hence prevent them to appreciate which is a violation of team spirit.

Appreciation must always be real based on your true judgment of good work of others. It must never be fake just to impress someone. Motive of appreciation is never to impress but an expression of your happiness straight from your heart about good work. We should be generous to appreciate colleagues, friends, and customers. Ability to appreciate is a reflection of your ability to collaborate. It has direct link if you are a team player or an individual contributor. Appreciation at the right moment in appropriate manner to the delight of the other person can spark someone’s performance to reach to new peaks. It can also help bridge the broken relationship.