On 3rdAugust 2013, IAIP members were delighted to organize workshop on “Resume and Cover Letter Writing and Personal Interview” in Kolkata. The event was well attended by candidates & members. The workshop comprised of a three-hour-long session by Partha Pratim Das, promoter of Backspace Communications, which is an initiative to help people develop creative communication skill.
The event started with a query “What do we submit to the prospective employers-curriculum vitae (CV) or resume? It certainly got the participants thinking. Partha explained the etymology of the word curriculum vitae, which is a Latin expression meaning the course of life; resume on the other hand is a summary of work experience and educational qualifications. Partha apprised the participants about different types/lengths of resumes, elevator pitch and asked job aspirants/seekers with less than three or four years of experience to have not more than a single-page resume. Nowadays, with more candidates having similar academic credentials, differentiation lies in candidate’s ability to connect with and touch the chord of the reader of resumes/cover letters. The challenge for an aspirant to differentiate multiplies as any recruiter screens hundreds of resumes/cover letters, devoting less than a minute on a candidate’s profile.
Partha encouraged attendees to research about the prospective job and company, talk with existing employees, understand company culture and prepare resume and cover letter suitable to the profile and company. This will help applicants to focus on relevant experiences and achievements, use appropriate terminologies and job/industry specific buzz words, relate better and portray themselves better suitable to the job. Importance of writing shorter sentences, not committing grammatical mistakes, highlighting relevant words, telling short stories about oneself, experiences & achievements and not being upfront in telling weaknesses were also discussed. To demonstrate his points, Partha circulated illustrative cover letters/resumes which were discussed at length by the participants. Noteworthy among these were two cover letters of undergrads applying to Investment Banking firms which became laughing stock of Wall Street and were widely reported in the media. The cover letters demonstrated the fine line between convincing potential employer of why they need to hire you, and only you, and coming across as obnoxious. Participants also enjoyed the priceless resume building tips by Barney Stinson from How I met your mother.
Personal Interview session kicked off with a video clip on the origin of job interview from the Armstrong and Miller show. Taking clues form the clip, Partha emphasized on the need to put oneself in the interviewer’s shoes, empathize/respect interviewer’s expectations and craft one’s story, align accomplishments, skills, and personal qualities effectively to fulfill those expectations. Importance of being “you” during interview, maintaining composure while dealing with situations and ability to put things in perspective were discussed with the participants.
Partha conducted a mock interview with a volunteer from the audience. Post interview, the attendees actively participated in sharing their observations and providing feedback. This helped attendees to delve deeper into the finer aspects of interview like body language, process of exchange of pleasantries, striking a conversation, articulation of answers and more importantly how to respond and not react to situations. Partha outlined the mechanics of interview process and persuaded participants to do more self-introspection, which will help them better align themselves with the job and justify their fitment for the role with more conviction, thus helping them to differentiate in an interview. The session ended with Partha stressing on the need for participants to focus on RED (Resume, Etiquette and Dressing) to get that coveted job opportunity and the participants were treated with the famed interview of Will Smith from The Pursuit of Happiness.
The session helped participants to understand the need and the way to craft cover letters which compel recruiters to read their resumes, draft resumes which enable interview calls and finally prepare to ace interviews.
Contributed by: Sourabh Agarwala, CFA