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Bracing Adversities

Bracing Adversities

By Manami Talukder

August 28, 2020

It is often believed that people can’t estimate their threshold unless they face an appropriate competition or a befitting competitor. A state of uncertainty brings forth one’s firefighting instincts that usually surface under extraordinary circumstances. I, too, had found myself in such a situation when I thought the ground was swept away from beneath my feet without any prior intimation. I emerged as a changed person after that phase. Acquaintances who came to know me after the phase have seen a radically different version of me.

However, before getting into the nitty-gritties of that phase, I want to share a little bit about my childhood. My parents dedicated their entire lives to the upbringing of their only child. Although I grew up in a middle-class family, I never saw the face of scarcity. My father provided me with the best lifestyle, one that would be conducive to a healthy childhood. However, don’t for a second think that I was spoilt. My parents disciplined me well and, for that, I am grateful to them. It never culminated into resentment and I never felt unloved as I was never chided without a reason. They prioritized my education above everything and, maybe, due to the pressure of their expectations, I was a nervous child. Examinations were always a nightmare, although I fared quite well and always maintained the top position in my class. The fact that I ranked first every year added onto that pressure. You could say I was a nerdy bookworm who didn’t like talking unnecessarily during recess or after school as I considered that part unproductive. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends or that I didn’t have hobbies, but I just wasn’t talkative. It is difficult for a lot of my friends to imagine the changed person who came into their life later.

Now, let me introduce you to my parents, who play a huge role in shaping the person I am today. I have inherited a lot of my characteristics from them. My mother is the youngest of seven siblings and has a twin sister who is older than her by three minutes. Maa is a major in Mathematics and has spent a lion’s share of her life as a teacher. She is someone who is never deterred by anything that life throws at her. She bravely prioritized motherhood over her higher studies, for which I will always remain indebted to her. However, a staunch believer of the ideology “it is never too late,” she went ahead and completed her master’s degree in Mathematics and received a Bachelor of Education degree after the age of fifty. Her hobbies know no end. She is a singer, an actor, and a theatre director, and currently holds the position of the cultural secretary of our colony. She has a knack for interior design—she could have easily pursued a career in that—and has a terrace garden with all types of house plants. I will never be able to match her level of youthful energy and her eagerness to learn new things every day, be it operating new smartphones or using tripods to record videos. Let me also add that she had two miscarriages, fought against and conquered Hepatitis B, and battled clinical depression. The darkness from which she has pulled herself out is unthinkable, yet she remains the unnerving light in my house who does not stop showing the world what living means.

My father, the eldest of four siblings, faced hardships since he was young. His mother passed on when he was just seven while his father took to be an ascetic and forsook all responsibilities. So, my father and my aunts, the youngest only two-month-old, were, in all sense, orphaned. It was his aunts who sheltered them, for which he remained grateful till his last breath. He always taught me to be humble, loyal and, above all, grateful for what I have. But childhood without parents was jarring and he had to miss out on many opportunities as he could not afford them and could not expect his relatives to spend on him after all that they had already done for him and his sisters. This entailed losing his chance to complete his higher education even after securing an opportunity to study medical sciences. Struggles that you or I will shudder to imagine was his everyday life. As a child, he used to spend Holi inside his house out of fear of ruining his sole good shirt. Hence, to become an established bank manager in one of the leading institutions of the country, after coming from such a background, was more than he could dream of. I don’t think I have to emphasize that I am an extremely proud daughter of a self-made man and value hard work above everything.

Naturally, when my father, the strongest person I had ever encountered, someone who had never even caught a cold, was diagnosed with the last stage of cancer, it was nothing less than a bolt of lightning from the blue. It was in the month of October in 2009, a few days after Diwali, that he visited our family doctor as he perpetually felt tired and was abnormally losing weight. Few tests were prescribed. The CT scan identified lumps, in one of his lungs, that turned out to be malignant. As I have already mentioned, struggles had always been a part and parcel of his life. Maybe, that’s why he didn’t pay much heed to his discomfort while the malignant tumours started nurturing inside him. The following few weeks were akin to a nightmare. Like any other eighteen-year-old who had just started college, I too had left home for studies for the first time with lots of hopes and dreams for my future. Destiny, howbeit, had planned something different for me. My whole life was turned upside down in the span of a month.

Well, we all know what “cancer” is. But until it hits someone close to you and whom you care for, you don’t understand how devastating and draining this disease can be, not only for the patient but also for the entire family. My mother was told by the doctor that my dad hardly had six to ten months left as he was diagnosed at the last stage. My father refused to undergo chemotherapy as he realized it would only add to the pain and wouldn’t cure him. My mother was a warrior, as she always has been, through those days; my father was a hero till the very end. I never heard him cry or whine although he was in pain day in, day out. Naive as it might seem, I strongly believed we would get him back and life would again go back to being “normal.” I prayed a lot during that time as I had full faith in God. However, my father didn’t have to suffer for long, and on Wednesday, November 25 2009, he passed on. I became the unofficial head of the family.

I promised my father that day that his struggles would not go in vain and that I would take care of the family as he had done throughout his life. Another thing changed that day. I lost faith in God. I don’t pray anymore. I don’t believe that the omnipresent will solve all our problems. From that day, I realized that everything that happens is predestined and is not in our control. No amount of prayer will change it, so why bother God?! Instead, divert all that faith into yourself so that when life plays tough games with you, you stay strong and collide head-on without thinking of the outcomes—as did my parents against cancer. I don’t believe we lost against cancer as it has failed to dampen our will to live a vibrant life. On the contrary, it made me stronger. Anxiety doesn’t freak me out anymore because I don’t rely on miracles to happen. I trust in myself and believe that I can handle anything that will come my way. Both my mother and I believe that my dad hasn’t left us. He is always there to show us the path and guide us to happiness and peace.

My father’s death brought me face to face with the real world and I knew I needed to learn to protect myself. Nothing is permanent. You can’t be dependent on anyone for long, as people move on once their purpose in your life is fulfilled. You should learn to get up when you fall rather than searching for a hand to pull you up. My parents are my inspirations, be it in life or in death. I have learned to never give up, to always feel there will be light if you persevere, and that spirit has helped me through all my struggles so far. I appeared for my first semester examinations in college five days after my father’s death. While others suggested I should skip it and repeat a year, I knew my father had sacrificed so much for my education and he wouldn’t have settled for anything less.

Let me elaborate on some prominent changes that appeared in my personality after my father passed on. I started talking more. I started interacting a lot more with people and made many friends. I started talking about my father with my friends and family; it very well could have been a coping mechanism or a way of remembering him, however you want to perceive it. Talking about my father meant keeping his memories alive and sharing it with more people. But I want to clarify that I never did this to arouse any sympathy as I didn’t want people to pity me. It was an inevitable mishap and I can’t deny that it created a huge void in my life, but it is something neither can I blame anyone for nor can I change. It is a part of my life and I must deal with it. I didn’t allow it to break me. One must accept that life is not always kind. However, I feel I was fortunate to have proper shelter, food, clothes, and all other luxuries of life that my parents always provided for me. Baba had completed his tenure and our well-being wasn’t hampered after his demise.

I evolved into a more practical person. I don’t get surprised a lot with uncanny events or news anymore. After being hit with such a stark change within a month, I realized anything can happen, no matter how bizarre it sounds. Truth is stranger than fiction. And above all, I started to accept that death is ineludible and the most real thing in life, and one must not ponder over whether someone’s death was timed well or deserving. I don’t think I have become uncaring or cold, but I have become more accepting of the weird whims and fancies of destiny. I still get a bit nervous before examinations or interviews, but during such moments, when I start losing trust in my abilities, I remind myself that I have gone through much worse and nothing can be as difficult as living and smiling without a parent.

The last and the hardest thing to overcome was to accept that this loss will forever remain in my life and I should not expect anyone to fill it. A father is like the shade of a banyan tree—you can rest in peace underneath knowing it will not let any harm touch you. I tried to look for that shade in friends, family, and prospective life partners, but soon realized that it was a futile search and somewhat unfair towards the other person. I also learned not to dwell in negativity. Instead, I try to relive those good memories with my father and keep him alive in me. Every milestone in life now seems to have one part missing as I can’t share it with my father and can only imagine what he would have said had he been there. I miss those debates when our opinions would clash. Now that I have become wiser and know more about the worldly affairs, how fun it would have been to discuss economics, politics, films, and sports with my father. And above all, I miss my banker dad the most when I have to file my taxes or plan my loan EMIs. My father was loved by one and all around him. Even now, whenever my family gets together, somehow, something he said or did pops up in our conversations and we relive those beautiful days. As I have grown up, I have lost a lot of close people—both family and friends—and there is no denying that it is something I wish could be undone. However, I have slowly but surely learned to stop fighting the past and live in the present. I try to keep those I lost alive in my memories, in my learnings, and in my day-to-day experiences. What I am today is an amalgamation of the learnings I have got from all those who have had any impression on me along the way and a part of them shall forever remain within me.

It would be wrong to say that it was an easy transition and that I didn’t see dark days. Everyone has their own ways to deal with hardships and so did I. Whenever it got hard to communicate the pain I was going through, I used to write my thoughts in a journal and found it to be an amazing way to express myself. It is very important for everyone to learn to accept the reality and try to gauge the best options ahead. Life is beautiful and gives you new opportunities every day. There will be struggles along the way, but I am quite assured from my own experiences that the struggles make you stronger for the road ahead.

Back in 2009, smartphones were not abundant like the present times, so there weren’t a lot of videos of my father except some videos during family weddings and a few recorded conversations during such gatherings. Sometimes it feels I might forget how he sounded or the way he walked but then I close my eyes, and he appears in front of my eyes, ever healthy and smiling, assuring me that there is no way a daughter can forget her father in her lifetime.

I think it is clear that I can go on for ages talking about my father, but, for now, I should stop. If anyone is going through a tough phase in life and feels that there is no road ahead, please feel free to connect with me and, maybe, I will be able to help you. At the end of the day, this is what life is all about.

 

Manami Talukder is currently adapting to the Work from Home norms while quarantining at her hometown—Kolkata. She studied Electrical Engineering at Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur; worked as a Technology Consultant; and completed Post-Graduation from the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode before entering the mythical world of Management Consulting in 2018. She got married in December 2019, in a traditional Bengali-Tamil style, before the trend of attending weddings over Zoom became the new standard. She loves to spend her time learning new sketching and painting techniques, and utilized the initial periods of lockdown perfecting her baking and roti-making skills. She likes to spend time at home and hasn’t yet lost her sanity because of the pandemic-induced isolation. She is also a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and tries to learn new choreographies during weekends. Manami is mostly a nocturnal being and finds it hard to sleep on time, and hence has recently got addicted to audio stories to accompany her long nights. Her recent interests include solving puzzles, playing carrom, and revisiting Bengali classic novels and movies. Manami spent the first nine years of her life in Siliguri before migrating to Kolkata for most of her student life before work and higher studies pulled her to places like Mumbai, Kerala, Pune, Bordeaux, Hyderabad, and back to Kolkata. She likes to express her opinions strongly but isn’t unwilling to hear others out and is always up for a healthy argument.

She can be contacted on [email protected].

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Communication Skills Ideas Scatter Diagram

Introduction to the Scatter Diagram

Introduction to the Scatter Diagram

By PPD

August 22, 2020

We live in a world of uncertainty. Easy access to technology does not guarantee survival. Individuals and businesses need to be creative just to survive the competition, let alone stand out. In this hyper competitive global race for innovation and value creation, creative thinking is a rare skill. Are all ingenious ideas the result of a sole eureka moment? How do we think divergently? Information is free but creates indecisiveness. So, the question is, what and how do we know? More importantly: Why do we need to know?

Every individual has a reasonable degree of understanding—practical, borrowed, or theoretical—of certain areas beyond their work. This understanding could be a result of their life experiences, education, hobbies, interests, accidents, etc.  The perspectives from those areas could be made relevant not only to problem-solving but also to a multitude of situations.

To expand the horizons of the thought process of my mentees, I have used the process mentioned above. The process aims to take a focused look at a situation from different perspectives, few of which might look completely random or unrelated at the first glance. The underlying idea is to think beyond the fixed boundaries enclosing the situation, and to be able to relate it to areas of one’s strength. If we were to visualize, we would find the view similar to a Scatter Diagram.

The Scatter Diagram, as I will call it henceforth, plugs in the expertise across these different domains to come up with a solution in an unrelated domain. For instance, a football enthusiast can use knowledge about the game to solve a problem of economics, an individual possessing knowledge of politics can utilize the same to solve a business problem, and so on.

Scatter Diagram Sample Points on the Scatter Diagram

How to Use It?

The Scatter Diagram visually correlates the strong points of an individual/business to the concerned situation/business problem. Generally, in our quest for solutions, we tend to look outward rather than inward. However, there are always certain domains in which we possess significant knowledge; if not, we can build our knowledge in a few areas that stimulate us. Therefore, the first step is to identify four to eight areas of strength. These fields/areas can be generic, such as technology or sports, or very specific, such as molecular nanotechnology or the English Football League. Each of these areas can be called a “point.” The Scatter Diagram is complete once all the points are plotted in the mind of the individual.

The next step is to use the Scatter Diagram in problem-solving. Let us assume that the problem is in a domain outside the premise of one’s Scatter Diagram; then, one needs to look for points that have a similar story. The chance of finding points that deal with similar problems is quite high. Finally, one has to evaluate the feasibility of application of the solutions used in these points to the actual problem.

The Scatter Diagram may also be used to understand a topic/problem from a multidisciplinary perspective—thus in greater depth—by analyzing the topic according to the points on one’s Scatter Diagram. For instance, if one wants to identify reasons for the high attrition rate in an organization, the first step is to identify the areas of strength. Let us assume the areas of strength to be “football” and “politics” in this case. Hence, the points on the Scatter Diagram will be “football” and “politics.”

The next step is to identify and analyze similar problems in both the points. Following are the possible reasons for high attrition rates in a football club:

1) Unsatisfactory wages

2) Not enough time to play

3) Exposure to a bigger/dream/new club

4) Feeling unsettled because one is far from home

5) Desire to win more trophies

6) Looking for new challenges

7) Teaming up with national teammates

 

Similarly, the following are the probable reasons for high attrition rates in politics:

1) Better chances of getting an election ticket

2) A major change in the ideology of the party

3) Low party funds

4) Decrease in popularity of the party

5) Disagreement with a senior leader

6) Acceptance of archenemy in the party

7) Increase in the popularity of the other party

8)Confidence of winning elections as an independent candidate

9) Unhappy with the leadership

10) Ambition of starting a new party

 

Reasons for attrition, as identified in both football and politics, can be helpful in creating a bigger list of reasons for high attrition rate in an organization. The list might not necessarily be exhaustive, but it would certainly help an individual to understand the situation better. Post that, a detailed analysis of each reason could solve the problem more effectively.

Thus, a Scatter Diagram gives way to new perspectives and ways to find better solutions to a problem.

Where to Use It?

The Scatter Diagram is applicable to various spheres of life. The approach, on the one hand, can solve business problems; on the other hand, it can help an individual find meaning in life. Let us see how.

Problem Solving: One of the important applications of the Scatter Diagram is that it aids in analyzing and solving business problems. As mentioned earlier, the Scatter Diagram technique helps an individual to look at a problem from multiple perspectives by considering the strong areas of that person as points on the Scatter Diagram and then to draw a correlation between the points and the problem. This technique helps the individual get over the omitted variable bias and confirmation bias while analyzing and solving the problem. It helps one to look beyond the visible, surface layers and get to the core of a problem.

Designing Lives: Another important application of the Scatter Diagram technique is that it helps in understanding people/businesses and recognizing factors that influence decisions and shape their lives/growth curve. Let us consider a situation where an individual or a business must make a decision with respect to growth. The points on the Scatter Diagram of A-type individuals/businesses (value-oriented) will be aligned more toward, among other things, ethics, rules, and principles, whereas for B-type individuals/businesses (goal-oriented), the points will be aligned more toward profitability, rate of growth, revenue, etc.

Leadership: One of the crucial responsibilities of a leader is decision-making. The Scatter Diagram, through its principle of considering the most important factors and relating points across fields/domains, helps in making informed decisions, resulting in solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable. Inspiring and empowering people are possible only if different types of individuals are understood clearly. The Scatter Diagram, in a way, enables the leader to understand the different behaviors, patterns, driving factors, etc., of different types of individuals.

Regret Minimization: The Scatter Diagram also helps in minimizing regrets for both individuals and businesses alike. As Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon, puts it, “When I look back on my life, I want to have minimized the regrets I have.” How can the Scatter Diagram technique help in minimizing regrets? Well, as stated already, it works on the principle where the basis of any discussion/decision are points that matter to individuals/businesses the most. Therefore, whenever a decision is taken factoring in these important points, the probability of regret will naturally go down.

Happiness Management: The definition and premise of happiness vary from person to person. It is highly unlikely that the factors contributing to the happiness of one person will be the same for another. It is, therefore, important to understand the contributing factors. These factors act as the points on a Scatter Diagram. For every individual, these points would drive decisions, discussions, and perspectives, among others.

Group Discussions: A Scatter Diagram can be used to come up with a wide range of ideas in a group discussion. For example, if we have to discuss on an abstract topic like “haste makes waste,” rather than discussing it in isolation, we may relate it to our points of the Scatter Diagram. To understand this, let us consider “technology,”“art and architecture,” and “cinema.” As far as “technology” is concerned, we may discuss how research & development yields better results without time crunch, and how tech giants ensure quality work with flexible timings. Similarly, for “art and architecture,” we may highlight how it took twenty-two years to build the Taj Mahal, and how any piece of creative art needs time and cannot be perfected with haste. In the case of “cinema,” we may ponder on slightly debatable thoughts—how actors who start as theater performers and reach Bollywood are better than those who directly start with Bollywood, and how Meryl Streep takes time to ensure the quality of a movie and how that delay is not a waste.

In this way, we can widen the scope of discussion with relevant points from different domains and make meaningful contributions.

New Product Development: A Scatter Diagram can be used in conceptualizing a new product as well. We can take inspiration from products/services in the points of the Scatter Diagram and combine or modify them to create fresh products/services in our domain. For example, an executive in an e-commerce firm in the apparel industry may take football as a point on their Scatter Diagram and then use the concept of Fantasy League for the products to increase consumer engagement. This way, one can achieve wide spectrum of ideas across the Scatter Diagram.

Creative Writing and Speaking: A Scatter Diagram can be used to improve the quality of the content we write and speak as it helps to add multiple dimensions to the content. Also, it helps us to increase the credibility of our content by relating it to multiple fields. For example, if we have to talk about the education system in India, we can use a Scatter Diagram to cover this topic from various perspectives, such as mythology, politics, economics, society, etc. Apart from improving the quality of the content, this process helps in delivering rich and highly useful content through the inclusion of multiple perspectives and by providing an insightful connection. In speech, the process also helps in pausing judiciously, thereby improving the overall delivery.

A Scatter Diagram certainly provides us with a plethora of new ideas but the essential requirement of this technique is to have a good number of points on the Scatter Diagram (preferably as diverse as possible) and to have an in-depth understanding of each point. Also, this technique can be mastered only by rigorous practice.

In the series of articles to follow, we will delve deeper into various applications of the Scatter Diagram across domains.

 

I would like to thank my colleague Mr. Shahrukh Moin Khan for his inputs. 

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How to Write a Compelling Resume

How to Write a Compelling Resume

By Shahrukh Moin Khan

August 05, 2020

“This is not just a resume, but the evolution of passion throughout the years of diligent work on the way to becoming an expert.”
—Anonymous

If you are somewhat studious and hail from a middle-class family of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, in most of the cases, you would be forced to prepare for the Civil Services Exam (CSE). Succumbing to such parental pressure, I also prepared for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) CSE during my graduation days at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee. Since I was resolute about it, I did not participate in the process of placement, and, at that time, I never got an opportunity to create a resume. However, due to turn of events, I ended up in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta. Within the first fifteen days of joining the institution, I was asked to make a four-page-long master CV. Being unaware of the process of writing a CV, my first draft had just eight lines. With time and constant efforts, eventually, I was able to draft a perfect CV and later narrowed it down to a quality resume. This article is my humble attempt to help candidates in their journey of writing a resume.

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing a resume, let us first understand the difference between a CV and a resume. Curriculum vitae—Latin for “course of life”—is a complete record of a candidate’s life journey. It is a detailed description of all the achievements of the candidate ranging from academics to cocurricular and extracurricular activities. On the other hand, a resume is a crisp, one/two-page version of a CV.

The first step of the recruitment process involves evaluation of the resume to get a glimpse of the candidate’s profile. It is the most essential piece of paper containing information that the interviewer has about someone. A well-written and aesthetically pleasing resume certainly leaves a good impression on the interviewer about the candidate, and can sometimes last throughout the interview. Grammatical mistakes, both in terms of spellings and construction, in the resume may lead to rejection even before the commencement of the interview. The quality of work or the magnitude of an achievement that is perceived by the observer depends a lot on its presentation. Let us look at two sentences for a better understanding of the aforementioned point.
1. I ranked third in college.
2. Achieved a merit rank of 3 out of 5,000+ students across 14 engineering streams.

Here, both statements talk about the same achievement but the presentation of the second statement creates more impact on the reader.

Before creating a one-page resume, it is very important to draft a master CV. This master CV includes collection of all the possible achievements of a candidate. Different industries will focus on different sections of the resume; hence, this master CV acts as a pool of all the points from which desired points for the resume can be selected. Therefore, it is very important to generate a comprehensive master CV. In order to do so, the following sections can be used:

  • Academic and Cocurricular Achievements: This section contains information about the achievements directly or indirectly related to the academic sphere. Ranks achieved in schools and colleges can be mentioned in this section. The first rank in primary school may seem irrelevant in the CV that one is making fifteen years later, but still, it is important as it reflects one’s diligence since childhood. In addition, marks in certain subjects can be mentioned here. For example: Scored 100% marks in Mathematics in 10th and 12th standards. This point may add value in a resume submitted for a job that might require high quantitative aptitude. Apart from ranks in school and college, ranks in competitive exams and certain Olympiads can also be mentioned. These ranks may showcase one’s performance with respect to peers across the nation or maybe even the world. Therefore, a person should not hesitate to mention their CAT percentile, GMAT score, JEE rank, etc. Beside marks and scores, in this section, achievements regarding winning case competitions, paper presentation, quiz competitions, etc., can also be mentioned. These pointers also highlight the academic inclination of the candidate. In addition, to highlight skills acquired beyond the fixed curriculum, certification courses can be mentioned along with scholarships awarded at any stage of life. Examples of academic and cocurricular achievements are as follows:

    • Granted assistantship of INR 98,000 to pursue MTech on clearing GATE taken by 11,407 candidates

    • Awarded Distinction by University of XYZ in International Assessment for Mathematics

    • Awarded Gold Medal for scoring the highest (100%) in Physics and Chemistry in X (99.9 percentile) in the state

    • Ranked amongst 612 out of 34,311 to qualify the KVPY (Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana) exam

    • Felicitated by the Governor of Haryana; only one to be awarded XYZ Scholarship

  • Internships and Projects: This section is particularly important to showcase one’s depth of conceptual knowledge. While writing about projects, topic or agenda of the projects should be communicated clearly to catch the attention of the reader. While writing the details of a project, one must try to ensure that enough emphasis is placed on the analysis done in the project, as it communicates the person’s technical abilities. Also, initiatives, recommendations, and collaborations during the project should be mentioned to showcase one’s results-driven approach and to highlight one’s accomplishments. Often these projects are of short duration and do not reach the full potential in that period but have high-impact potential in the future. So, providing details of the potential of the project increases the value of the work done. Also, it is very critical to strike a balance while framing the points—the points should be technical enough to be able to communicate one’s knowledge and simple enough for a non-technical person to understand the value of the work done. Examples of internships and projects are as follows:

    • Verified water tank designs by APC contractor and designed 40-litre capacity reservoirs

    • Identified issues faced on site and improved working techniques in a team of 25 postgraduate trainees

    • Developed model for Asset Allocation for HNI clients’ portfolios by optimizing risk-return metrics 

  • Work Experience: This is a crucial section as recruiters are generally keen to know more about the work done by the candidate in the previous organization. This section should showcase every positive aspect of a candidate’s professional career. While mentioning the details of the work, it is advisable to highlight certain aspects, such as leadership, innovation, results-driven approach, etc. To highlight these points, one must try to include details of any project/sub-project/team/sub-team that one has led or managed. Also, inclusion of points that can highlight interactions and collaborations with the seniors/juniors/clients helps to present the team-player side of an individual. One can mention points related to new things done at work that reduced cost, enhanced efficiency, etc., or that created something fresh, redesigned an existing system, etc., to highlight the person’s innovative side. In this section, one can also mention the additional responsibilities that one has undertaken, such as recruitment, business development, among others. Here, the candidate should also mention the awards and recognitions received, such as good ratings, on-spot award, appreciation e-mail, and many more. Examples of work experience are:

    • Led a team of 4 to build regulatory reporting dashboard for monitoring real-time IB business readiness

    • Realized savings of $20 million by deploying and tracking targets across 5 continents (cost arbitrage opportunities)

    • Implemented a test-versus-control experiment impacting 10,000 accounts and reducing credit limits by $2 million

    • Prevented potential loss of $0.5 million+ for the client by finding a corner-case bug in the design

    • Achieved 15% increase in efficiency by elimination of man movement and reduction in cycle time by 6 minutes

    • Mentored 2 new team members in transition and knowledge transfer of the product architecture

    • Received XYZ India Special contribution award (7 of 110); achieved 8% increase in customer base

  • Positions of Responsibility: This section highlights a candidate’s leadership abilities. A person who has handled responsibilities at school and college level has a higher chance of taking up leadership responsibilities as a professional. In this section, positions, such as student council president, placement representative, mess representative, etc., can be mentioned. Also, it is very important to highlight the work done during the tenure. One should certainly mention the day-to-day activities and responsibilities and the magnitude of the work done. Apart from the regular work, it is imperative to highlight the change or innovation that was brought during the period. The section should also have mention of a candidate’s position in a club, in a sports team, in a fest, among others. Under details of each position, it is necessary to highlight one’s leadership and decision-making skills. Examples of positions of responsibility are:

    • Captain, Cricket Team: Led team to victory in Inter-IIT Sports Meet 2013; IITK first-time overall winners in the history of 49 years

    • Head, Photography Club: Organized a photography exhibition and increased the footfall of the event by almost 20%

    • Core Member, NGO: Involved in fundraising initiatives with 100 donors supplying to 30 senior citizens in 2 old-age homes

    • Sponsorship Head, Fest: Led an 18-member team to raise INR 24 lakh as sponsorship amount from 9 big and 24 small organizations

  • Extracurricular Activities: This section portrays the fun, creative, and social side of a candidate. A lot of recruiters focus on this section to better know someone as a person. This section must comprise social services undertaken at any point in life that may include blood-donation camp, cloth-collection drive, feeding the hungry, teaching the underprivileged, working with an NGO, etc. While writing these points, one must try to focus on the magnitude of the impact created. Any achievement in the field of sports can also be mentioned here. Achievement can be as big as an international-level achievement or as small as a school-level achievement; it reflects one’s passion for the sport. Participation and winning accolades in cultural and literary activities can also be presented. Participation in other extracurricular activities, such as acting in a drama, reciting poetry, winning essay competition, etc., can be mentioned here. Apart from these, any part-time work or anything that does not fall into a fixed category can be included in this section. Examples of extracurricular activities are:

    • Stood first in volleyball and second in cricket (both among 8 teams) in inter-branch sports competition

    • Represented India at World Youth Championship, Spain; International ELO Rating 1802

    • Worked with UNIC, UNDP, UN Women, and World Bank on projects on water security and women’s security

    • Led a team of 40 actors to direct the Annual Street Play production on “Political Consciousness”

    • Created and implemented sustainable business models for underprivileged, as Associate-Enactus

For so long, we saw the areas that need to be covered to make an exhaustive master CV. Let us try to understand how we can impressively present the points. A few important considerations to be remembered while drafting each point are:

  • Usage of Personal Pronouns: If we look at various world-class templates, CVs are usually written in the third person. Personal pronouns are avoided while writing the points. For example,

    1. I, with my team, secured third prize in an event organized by my college.

    2. Secured third rank, as a part of a team, in an event organized by the college. The second statement is more acceptable than the first in CV formats.

  • Usage of Power Verbs: Each point in the CV should start with a power verb. Power verbs are action words that have positive meanings. When one uses a power verb, one can communicate one’s message more strongly and confidently than while using other verbs. For example,

    1. Worked with senior executives of clients for smooth delivery of the services.

    2. Collaborated with senior client executives for smooth delivery of the services. Though both the statements mean the same thing, still the second statement communicates the idea in a more impactful manner.

  • Quantification of Achievements: The magnitude of achievement is often best measured when it is well quantified. Hence, in a CV, it is often advised to quantify the achievements wherever possible. For example,

    1. Cleared XYZ exam in the first attempt.

    2. One among 100 out of 10,000+ students to clear the XYZ exam in the first attempt.In the second statement, the magnitude of the achievement can be seen. Even if the person does not know about the exam, still they can understand that it is a significant achievement.

  • Impact-Focused Points: There are two parts of the activity—first is the action done and second is the impact that it created. While writing points in a CV, people often just focus on the action and ignore the impact part of it. Recruiters, however, are mostly result-oriented and look for the impact. Therefore, while presenting the point, the focus should also be on the impact created. For example,

    1. Implemented XYZ technology in the team in collaboration with 5 teams.

    2. Reduced cost by 30% by implementing XYZ technology in the team in collaboration with 5 other teams.The second statement highlights the impact created by the individual whereas the first just talks about the work done.

  • Usage of Keywords: In the present day of technology, resumes are often shortlisted by algorithms, which search for certain keywords that are associated with the job requirement. Hence, one should introduce certain keywords accordingly. For example,

    1. Spent INR 10,000 in increasing the visibility of the brand by 50%.

    2. Handled a budget of INR 10,000; increased brand awareness by 50%.In the second statement, the introduction of keywords like budget and brand awareness will increase the chances of earning an interview call.

  • Usage of Correct Grammar: Often people are a bit careless about the grammar while writing the points. It is very important to ensure that there is no grammatical mistake in the CV. Appropriate usage of modifiers, semicolon, hyphens, etc., should be known before using them in the CV. For example,

    1. Secured 99.99 percentile in CAT 2019, out of 200,000+ students.

    2. Secured 99.99 percentile out of 2,00,000+ students in CAT 2019.In the first statement, it is implied that CAT 2019 was out of 200,000+ students. Hence, the usage is wrong.

Once the draft of the master CV is ready, it is time to discuss the selection of points for the one-page resume. Different sectors have different skillset requirements and hence, focus on different sections on the resume. However, in any case, every employer prefers to see all sections of the candidate’s resume. Let us discuss a few pointers to be kept in mind while drafting the one-page resume for different domains.

  • Finance: This sector requires high quantitative aptitude, sharp focus, and dedication. Hence, recruiters from the finance domain mostly focus on academic achievement, relevant work experience, and relevant projects and internships, etc.

  • Consulting and General Management: This sector requires an impressive personality, which means that the person should have strong networking abilities, good leadership skills, problem-solving skills, etc. Hence, recruiters look for a balanced resume; a person should have a decent number of points in all the sections. Also, aesthetics and presentation of the resume matter the most for this sector.

  • Marketing: This sector focuses on one’s creative side and does not care a lot about one’s academic achievements as it may not be related to one’s future work. Hence, recruiters in this sector look for good positions of responsibilities and extracurricular achievements. Also, if the work experience section has some points related to sales, business development, pitching, presenting, etc., it is a big plus.

  • Operations: This sector focuses on one’s problem-solving skills and one’s ability to work on the ground. Hence, the recruiters look for relevant work experience wherein the candidate has managed or delivered. Also, relevant projects or internships add value to the resume.

  • Technology: This sector requires one to be updated with the recent trends and prefers if one has hands-on experience. Hence, the recruiters mostly focus on the work experience section and look for relevant projects and internships. Also, one’s certifications are very important, as they tell the recruiter about how updated one is with the current technology.

Apart from the content present in the text, it is very important to format the resume perfectly. Each point should be of exactly one line, aligned perfectly, and should be of an optimum length to ensure that there is minimum white space. Also, the font, font size, bullet size, etc., should be consistent throughout the resume. After drafting the resume, one must check for the printable pdf version of the same and ensure that the format of the file is not distorted.

The above-mentioned pointers are based on my experience of reviewing and verifying resumes as a recruitment coordinator at IIM Calcutta, and my experience of conducting multiple resume-editing workshops at premier B-schools in India.

I hope the article helps you.

A consistent academic performer and an ex-placement representative at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Shahrukh Moin Khan has been passionately mentoring aspirants and B-School students towards achieving their goals. At Breakspace, the Education Consulting division of Partha PD, in three years, he has mentored over 3,000 students across India. Before his MBA, while pursuing BTech at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, he mentored 200 students for engineering entrance exams. Shahrukh’s love for football and cricket and his keen interest in Indian history and politics beautifully complement his critical approach towards everyday issues. His hometown is Kanpur, and he completed his secondary education at Meerut.

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