“What is the purpose of a résumé?”


Author: Larry Medina (Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific


I’m hoping that everyone had a restful and inspired holiday season. Now, it is time to rekindle the job and internship search and start using your research and networking information to pursue your target roles. 

From this point onwards, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and ask yourself, “if I were the hiring manager, would I hire myself? If yes, why?” This mental exercise will help you construct your résumé or curriculum vitae.  


I will dedicate the new few weeks to building your résumé before moving on to other tactical tools.  One question that most job seekers fail to ask themselves is, “what is the purpose of a résumé”?  

From a students’ perspective, a résumé is a one or two-page document to highlight qualifications and skills. But it’s also an opportunity to show your brand and personality. 

Unfortunately, too many people view a résumé as a list of everything that they have ever done at school and work. In most cases, a comprehensive list results in a long and uninteresting résumé.

Skill sets

The key to a good résumé is to understand the required skills for the position targeted. Then, highlight your experiences that demonstrate the required skills. 

By reviewing job descriptions for the target role, you can identify the 10 to 15 skills needed to do the job. You can then evaluate your work experience, education, and other achievements and identify the most relevant achievements. 

This also means that you need to adjust your résumé for different job roles with varying skill requirements.  


Remember that a résumé can be screened by computers for keywords and reviewed by talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers. It is important to use the correct keywords without going overboard when selecting your most relevant experience to get through automated reviews.

From an employers’ perspective, a résumé is a document to screen applicants based on qualifications and skills.  It is also important to get a sense of the applicant’s character. I will discuss this more later. A boring résumé is a bad résumé. 

As for screening, almost all large MNCs will use automation to screen as the volume of applicants can be quite large. In 2017, Google received 3 million applications for approximately 6,000 roles. The only way for companies to handle the volume is to use some automated screening based on keywords and other parameters.  

Look and feel

Once the automated screening is complete, the employer will continue to use the résumé to evaluate skills, qualifications, and fit for the organization. Subsequent reviews by staff will also look at the aesthetics, language, and style of the résumé to assess short-list candidates.  So beyond keywords, the résumé must also have an appealing look and feel.  


To recap, you should always put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager to better craft a résumé. 

Demonstrate the skills that you know they need by selecting your achievements that demonstrate the right skill set.  

Remember that the screening process can involve automation looking for keywords.  Qualifications and personal branding are essential factors, with skills being the most critical. 

Here’s wishing you an excellent start to 2021!  

Larry Medina is the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School. For more career tips, follow #careertipswithlarry.  Read previous tips from this series.

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