Monday, August 25, 2014

Building the NRI Resume

A long, long time ago I made hubby a resume to help him find a job in India. I remember having to search quite a bit to get an idea of how resume's were written in India at that time. As I'm sure you can imagine, they're different from American resume's just like almost everything else about India is different. His old resume looked something like this  (personal identification redacted of course):

India resume IT software server administrator

Clearly, that's not the type of resume an American company would know what to do with. We don't use your father's name, your address doesn't go at the bottom and what does 64% even mean (from the "Academic Credentials" section. I know these things now and as a quick explanation: 64% is the "marks" obtained in the course out of 100. There's simply no way to equate this with the American GPA system which ranks up to 4.0. I can also imagine that 64 doesn't look like a promising number to someone who doesn't understand the Indian grading systems.

Also,  something I didn't know back then was that I was missing half of his education credentials! Lol. A lot was lost in translation between someone who knows very little (or nothing) about IT who was trying to make the resume and a non-native English speaker. Ahem....yeah, I didn't know my *ss from a hole in the ground when it came to his skill set.

So when hubby came here, I attempted to make him a new resume in a more American format. Still being IT ignorant, I copied a lot of the same wording, ideas, etc. FAIL! Needless to say his resume sucked and many of his NRI friends told us so.

Now that I'm off work and can spend hours (over 3!) helping hubby completely retype his resume and make it presentable to the world (still IT ignorant btw), we sat down to do so together and made a much better resume.

First step for anyone not skilled in the art of resume crafting is to Google. Find examples, look at wording choices used in your specific fields. DO NOT COPY AND PASTE. I saw way too many resume's that were just copied and pasted and this is the fastest way to make yourself look like a lying idiot and get yourself fired (or never hired in the first place). Read the resume's online, think about how to make the sentences fit you, your background, your experience, etc.

Current standards also want you to use action statements. So rather than just saying what you can do, they want you to say what the result of this is. When listing your degrees, they are typically separate from your certifications. We also want to know more details about your skills and knowledge, which is a sneaky way of also testing your grammar, spelling and MS Office proficiency. The more you have to type, the more potential you'll make a mistake that tells the recruiter you are not as good as you say you are.

So now hubby's resume started out looking like this:
NRI resume India America

What do you think? Much improved eh? Of course, we hadn't finished it yet when I took this snapshot. I got the idea for this post mid-way through our work. His resume is now includes a much broader scope of who he is professionally.

We'll likely have to modify this a little bit as needed based on each individual job he applies for but in the mean time, this basic resume is sufficient.

One thing you'll notice is that instead of including the 64% marks, we've listed him as being in "First division" which is how his diploma's were worded. This may seem a bit strange but will give the interviewer an opportunity to ask him questions about it's meaning which in turn gives hubby a chance to show his English speaking abilities in translating and explaining it.

Have any of you ever helped your husband make a resume? What was your experience like?

You can find some great tips on NRI's transitioning into the American workforce over at Authentic Journeys.


  1. In Switzerland they teach kids how to write a resume in Highschool, and the way we do write one is much different from the ones in India. First a resume that is shorter than one page or longer than 3 doesn't stand a chance in Switzerland. If you are a fresher, employees rather want to see a list of volunteer jobs, or Summer job you took. In India they don't mind if there is no work experience at all, as long as you have an impressive school pedigree.
    In Switzerland they only really want your last school details, and a brief timeline of your elementary years. In India they usually want a bit more than that.

    In India it is also fine if your resume is longer than 3 page if the pages are filled with the details of your work in all previous companies. writting more than a line or two in any given roles in Switzerland will pretty much ensure your resume will never clear the initial screening. The detail of a past job is something the employer will ask if you secure an interview back home.
    And last but not least, DH was surprised when he first saw my resume, at how airy and well presented the different categories were and how fancy the format looked. That is because visual presentation in Switzerland is everything. I remember helping my mom screen 200 resume for the position of secretary that opened in her company, and she told me to just dump anything that was looking messy, had stains, no clear paragraphs. That was before reading the resume. Then in the second round of screening we looked for spelling mistakes, too long resume, too short ones, and dumped them as well. Out of 200 resume only about 50 were good enough to be looked into it a bit more seriously, and by the end my mom had narrowed it to about 15-20 that would go through an interview round.

  2. Resume writing came very late in India, probably with the advent of liberalization when the private sector opened up in early 1990s. As Cyn said Indian children never worked during teenage, so they never had that exposure. Right now, there are lots of activities being pursued at school and college level like drama, social work etc. which give weight to your resume. Perhaps it reflects the changing time when academic achievements are no longer adequate. Another important reason for this archaic style of resume is lack of exposure among young people to requirements of professional resume and handicap in English language, among those who go their education in medium other than English. We follow British English which uses phrases which are indirect and formal. These factors often force people to use a format which they have copied from some friend, which is not appropriate.

    There is a off repeated and cliched scene in old bollywood movies. The unemployed hero is shown going to interview with a bulky folder carrying all his certificates from high school to college (from sports to academic). The interviewer sees all the certificates and says "you are well qualified and fit for the job". Then the phones rings. The boss of the interviewer is on the line recommending some other candidate for the job. The interviewer tells the hero "sorry, I have to give the job to somebody else, can't help it". The hero comes back with a sad face. This was I think how job interviews were conducted in 1960s-1970s India. Nothing professional about it. Government sector still conducts examinations, so you need to study substantially to clear them even for a clerk's job. Private sector recruitment was a bit dicey always, I guess, where you needed recommendations, before liberalization demanded more solid professional qualifications.

  3. I think they teach resume writing here now as well, but it's only basics. Resume writing is complicated here and it's become part of our culture to use dramatic or specific wording as part of the allure. I was lucky enough to get help from my university as an alumni but they won't write hubby's resume since he didn't go there.

  4. I haven't had to write a resume in years, but I always remember detesting it when I had to. I actually think that the Indian resume looks better than the American one.

  5. I can't imagine having to figure out how to write a resume in a different country. I can barely get it accomplished in America at times. Everyone wants it to look different. Thank you for the information while I hope to never have to use it, you never know!

  6. Oh wow, I wouldn't even remember how to write a resume. Thanks so much for the information.

  7. There are so many differences between countries in labor seeking skills. It can be really confusing. But like you said, Google is the first tool. I do it too, lol

  8. I never thought about it being presented differently in different areas. Very interesting!

  9. Things sure have changed when I went to school. Great tips.

  10. Very interesting!

  11. I like the changes on the second resume. What a great contrast!