Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Interview by - Shuvasmita Nanda

Shilpa Laharwal is the Founder of Career Faktor, a capability-building platform for Job Seekers and Startups and offers Résumé Writing, Career Coaching, and HR Consulting Services in real-time and sustainable. She brings with her an experience of over 15 years as an erstwhile Corporate HR Professional in both established & start-up environment. In the past, she was associated with HCL, Novo Nordisk, SecurEyes and led law firms such as Khaitan & Co, Kochhar & Co, Fox Mandal, and Singhania & Partners, and SecurEyes.

For Further information connect with her at:-



1. What must a cover letter include?

Ans:- The purpose of a Cover letter is to introduce yourself and your Résumé and give insight into specific parts of your work history or educational background and explain how your background applies to the job you are applying to. And it is likely the first document a recruiter will read while reviewing your application, so it is critical to get it right in the right format and with no spelling or grammatical errors.

The basic framework for cover letters would be:

  1. Choose a catchy subject line - The trick here is to know 'what' is your recipient looking for and be able to write exactly 'that' without being too pushy on the subject line. For example, if the job post says looking for a Social Media Expert from IT, your subject should say 'Mr. Kapur, I am a Social Media Expert from the IT industry!' Rather than 'Application for a Job.'

  2. Salutation: If you know the name, personalize the letter example, Dear Mr. Kapur( always use the last name). If you don't know the name write, Dear Hiring Manager or Dear Team.

  3. Opening paragraph: You should state the purpose of writing this letter; for example, I would like to express my strong interest in the XYZ position open at ABC company.

  4. Next, explain why you are interested in applying here and state what knowledge you have about the company.

  5. Talk about similar roles that you may have faced at work or while studying, and give concrete examples that highlight relevant skills.

  6. Explain what's your value proposition and how your unique strengths will benefit the company by expressing how you can contribute to their growth

  7. Exhibit how your interests or values align with the company's vision, mission, and values.

  8. Show how the position fits within your academic or career trajectory.

  9. Conclude by reiterating your high points and a call to action; for example, If my profile interests you, I would be happy to meet you and discuss further; you can contact me on xxx (phone no) or email me xxx.

2. What are the important details that must be included and excluded in a resume?

Ans:-The purpose of your Résumé is to summarize your qualifications, detailing your skills, training, work experience, and most importantly, the accomplishments you have made with past employers.

The details you must include and exclude in your resume:-

- Start by highlighting your name and easily visible phone number and email address. Do not include more than one phone number or email address. Include a LinkedIn profile link. You can add your city and country, for example, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, rather than the whole address.

- The next section should have a summary of your profile, and the summary should not be generic such as "looking for a suitable opportunity in a well-known company" instead, pay attention to the Summary section of your Résumé'. It's an overview of what you have to offer, and it is read first. It helps employers 'Quickly' learn whether you have the skills and background they are searching for, and it creates an opportunity for your Résumé’to be read further. A summary should entail in limited words and preferably in this order:

  1. Strong character trait

  2. Years of experience

  3. Domains of work

  4. Geography covered

  5. Your unique achievement with the outcome

  6. Address your value proposition targeted to the employer's need

- The next section should highlight your Education if you are a fresh graduate or a junior in the order If you are experienced, your work experience stands taller than your academic credentials so put it after work experience. To maintain a chronological order to your education and follow the path as - degree, the field of study, board/university, location, and year should do the trick. Freshers should write their GPA; for the experienced, it is a choice, especially if you are a rank holder. If you're still pursuing education, your Résumé should make it clear that your education is in progress.

- Next, highlight your certification and training and follow the path as - Certification name, credentialing authority, year and validity date

- Internships are a part of practical education; write them in a separate section.

-Work experience should also follow a path - company name, designation, from mm/yy to end mm/yy.

-You need to write your accomplishments instead of listing your responsibilities against each role in your Résumé. And quantify them wherever possible. Follow Problem, Action, and Result formula.

-Follow the mm/yy format throughout the Résumé; keep the font consistent.

-Keep it short at one page or max two pages and label the sections with generic headings; avoid using fancy words that ATS or junior recruiters cannot comprehend.

-Stick to textual Résumé and avoid visuals as substance matters over style.

-Use the right tense across the Résumé.

-Ensure you have captured industry-relevant keywords to garnish your Résumé.

-Résumé cannot be a static document; it has to be added to and customized to the job role every time one applies.

-Avoid unrelated hobbies, father or mother's name, date of birth, nationality, religion, etc. All of that information is not required and will give go against the anti-discriminatory policy of several organizations.

-Add a picture only when asked for.

3. What are the basic mistakes that students and professionals make while creating their Résumé?

Ans:- The basic mistakes that a student and professional should be mindful of includes:-

1. Not including any informal/Selfie Picture

2. Giving Important Information

3. Typo, Grammar, and spelling mistake

4. Using silly inappropriate email-id

5. Overusing adverbs or clichés' always go the extra mile'.

6. Using images for skill set and career timeline

7. Displaying stop-gap job experience

8. Getting the Company's name wrong

9. Not explaining long gaps between jobs

10. Layouts that are hard to understand/read/or are too busy

11. Hobbies that are really not hobbies,i.e.' hanging out with friends'

12. Writing Fathers and Mothers name

13. Using big fonts or strong layouts to increase resume length

14. Including Part-time jobs that are no longer relevant

15. Not mentioning expired against licenses or certifications

4. How can a student and professional stand out their Résumé and cover letter among their peers? Provide some tips and tricks regarding this matter?

Ans:- One way to stand out is by highlighting a holistic self and talking about community service or volunteer work. A neatly formatted and error-free Résumé will, in any case, be appreciated, just like how a teacher would appreciate neat handwriting to bad handwriting in an exam paper. And additional education certificates will not be considered as an alternative for experience.

5. What suggestions would you like to give regarding Résumé and cover letter creation to a student and a professional searching for an internship or job opportunity in a big firm or company?

Ans:- The significant details to remember when creating your resume:-

-Keep your resume fresh and simple to read.

-Utilize straightforward words and keep them updated.

-Add your social profiles for your recruiters to see.

-Feature your key abilities.

Building a professional and attractive resume can take some time, however, the effort is totally justified. It's the principal thing that a recruiter will read about you and hence it is imperative to take some time and apply thought while building it.

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