Recently, Aakash Neeraj Mittal, a student of IIT Kharagpur, was in news for spending 70 hours and making a resume modeled on Flipkart’s product page using photoshop. He wanted to impress the recruiter at Flipkart with his out-of-the-box idea and get a job at Flipkart. Aakash wasn’t even shortlisted for an interview. Here is the resume Aakash designed:
Impressive? Are you surprised why he wasn’t shortlisted? Would you have shortlisted his resume?
Did you hear about the girl named Nina Mufleh, who really wanted a job at Airbnb. She had tried a similar stint a year ago. After trying the usual course to landing a job at Airbnb and failing at it, Nina decided to make a resume website, mirroring the Airbnb website. You can check her web-resume here: nina4airbnb.com (This story is just for reference)
What am I trying to say here? I am just giving ideas on what Aakash should have done to bag an interview at Flipkart. Why? Because I have heard from many job seekers that today, doing something creative with the resume is must for one to stand out of the crowd and bag an interview. I am not completely denying that. But there is more to it than just being creative. Which is also the reason Aakash was not shortlisted. If you are thinking of doing something similar, do it carefully, or your efforts, time, and maybe money will be wasted. Here are some points to keep in mind:
Be more creative than 99% of the crowd
Aakash may look creative, here, in isolation, but he is way behind most.
Here is why: He chose to make an image resume, while Nina could make a web-resume a year ago. Had he googled a bit about ideas to get inspiration from, he could have done a better job at creating a more creative resume. This tells about his researching capabilities, which is an important part of a Product Manager’s job that he has applied to. More importantly, even after making an out-of-the-box resume, he chose the usual HR route to send out his resume. Nina chose twitter to reach out to the CEO directly. Now that’s smart.
Just like with marketing, designing an interesting resume alone will not get you success. People are smarter than you think. Today, content, that too very strong one, only works. Aakash did not do anything more than having a great design. His resume is talking only about himself, like any regular resume. Had Aakash studied some of the problems Flipkart is facing, and added some content around it, he would have got better results out of his 70 hours.
I’ll tell you about one of my own story. I once had almost lost a job even after going through several rounds of interviews at a large multi-national organization. By the final interview, the HR had made up her mind to reject me. Why? Because I had managed to piss her off with my over-smartness. Well, that is a story for another day. But, a couple of days later the HR called me up again to inform that I am hired. What changed my fate? It was an assignment I was given by the manager with whom I would work, if I am hired. The manager went through the assignment I had submitted to him. He loved the way I had taken up a real situation at the company than taking an hypothetical one, and I had given a fairly impressive solution to the problem. He had a word with the HR and I was brought on board immediately. Phew!
In case of Nina, she did not focus on herself in her web-resume but on showcasing what she knows about the travel industry, what she could contribute to Airbnb, and what she thinks the company should pursue next. Nina’s creativity and study attracted the CEO and CMO’s attention and she bagged an interview at Airbnb immediately. Nina did not get hired eventually but her resume did what it was meant to do. It got her an interview. Here is how Nina’s resume looked like:
What Nina and I did to get what we wanted was to give a glimpse of how we would contribute to the company.
Aakash clearly missed relevance. He was applying for a job of Product Manager and was showcasing his Photoshop skills. He did not even manage to show himself in good light. He is writing about his hobbies (serously?), thinking too high of himself (Did you read “Hurry up! There won’t be another product like this, ever!”?), and writing about trivial things like “believes a lot in Love”. It’s just not me. See what the industry heavy-weights have to say about Aakash’s creative resume stint.
Amit Sinha, HR head of Paytm:
It is definitely an eye-catcher and it will prompt me to have a second look at it. But we consider such people only for certain types of roles like a graphic designer or a user experience designer. But for roles like finance and operations, these kind of resumes would be a disadvantage because it give a sense of lack of seriousness.
Sidhartha Shishoo, VP, HR, Genpact Ltd:
While it is a good way to seek attention, it is not going to score any additional brownie points. I would evaluate it the way I would evaluate any other.
K. Ramkumar, executive director, ICICI Bank:
It looks innovative but it is important to not overreact to it and stay neutral. We should not jump to conclusions based on scanty evidence (of capability).
I do not want to discourage innovative approaches but simply remember the year we are in before you spend 70 hours of your time. Try to get in the shoes of a recruiter and think what would impress her/him to the extent that s/he would want to get you on board, and you will have your answer.