02 Nov 2016 17:48 IST

Write rèsumès that grab attention

Apply the well-known AIDA and KISS principles to be effective

Some time or the other, every one of us has to write up a resumè… also known as curriculum vitae (CV) or bio-data. These terms are used interchangeably in India although they are not exactly the same thing.

Resumè is actually a French word and means summary. In line with this meaning, a resumè is expected to be a brief summary about the person and not more than one page or a maximum of two pages long. A CV is, on the other hand, a detailed outline about one’s education, work experience, and so on, and can be two or three pages or even longer. A bio-data is short form for biographical data, which is actually quite different from a resumè or a CV but is often used interchangeably with these terms.

The first question is whether the candidate should prepare a CV, which is very detailed, or a resumè.

Keep the purpose in mind

Before we answer that, let us first define the purpose of such a document and the intended target. The second part is obvious: a CV or resumè is intended to get a recruiter interested in shortlisting the applicant and scheduling an interview. Therefore, the purpose of this document should be to grab the attention of the recruiter and lead to an interview.

This is easier said than done, given that your resumè or CV is likely to be one among hundreds or even thousands being seen and reviewed. One study claims that the average time span per resume is approximately six seconds and, if the recruiter is not interested or impressed, they will move on to the next.

Given this short time span and the intended objective of landing an interview, it would be ideal to work with a resume instead of a CV — and most definitely not a bio-data.

Simple formula

Google, or any other search engine, will give you lakhs of results about writing an effective or powerful resumè. So, I will share something far more basic and critically important in this article.

I have a simple formula to create an effective and powerful resumè, and this is based on the intended objective: getting an interview call. The formula is simply to treat your resumè like an advertisement for yourself and apply these two important principles when drafting it.


This is a commonly used conceptual model in advertising and stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Your resumè should grab the Attention of the reader, create the Interest to read more, stimulate their Desire to meet you and, therefore, call you for an interview, which is the desired Action.

Therefore the resumè should start off with some powerful and interesting content to grab attention. Unfortunately, in most resumès I have seen have the “Objective” section at the beginning. This is neither interesting nor is it powerful, especially when clichéd, important sounding words are used which ultimately make no sense.

Take a relook at the resumè in the light of it being an advertisement and try applying the AIDA model to the same. I am sure the impact quotient will increase significantly.


Keep it Short and Simple. This is quite straightforward and is the most overlooked and ignored guideline. A resume is not a test of one’s literary skills. Neither is it some kind of story-telling attempt. This is like an advertisement and has one clear objective – get the applicant an interview.

First and foremost, limit the number of pages. For freshers and those with fewer years of experience, one page is long enough. Others with more experience can add another page, but must try to stop at two. A good and effective resumè cannot exceed three pages, and that should be the outer limit. Next is to select what would be most effective and relevant content to include.

Sort the details you want to include on a scale of 1, 2 and 3. Priority 1 being the most important and essential things, such as name, contact details, educational details, work details, etc. Priority 2 should be minimal details in the section about education, work, achievement, etc. Priority 3 is reserved for all the other non-essential information, such as a description of your job, mentioning that you know MS Word, etc.

Include only such details that qualify for priority 1 and 2 in the resumè. Then rearrange the details such that the current details and those with the maximum impact come right up front.

Always remember the fact that advertisements are short and high impact as compared to films, which could go on for three hours or more. Your resumè is an advertisement of your skills and capabilities. It should not become like a film about your life.