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Why can't Indians write a good resume?

From incomprehensible language to laughable lengths, many Indians are CV-challenged. Here's why it matters.

If Indians want to sit in one of these cubicles at a call center in Bangalore, they're going to have to write better resumes — not to mention shorter. Ninety percent of resumes analyzed recently by TeamLease, an Indian staffing company, had errors in them and far too many went over the accepted one-page limit. (Sherwin Crasto/Reuters)

BANGALORE — It is a country with the world’s second-largest English-speaking population after the United States. It is a country so proud of its English language skills that it aspires to be the global labor superpower of the 21st century. But if first impressions count, the resume writing skills of many Indians present a bleaker side to this promise.

“To always spread positively within the branch and reduce the grape vine,” said one job candidate in his resume.

“I laugh easily, but do not suffer fools gladly. I expect the same effort from others as I give myself,” wrote another aspirant.

Such gaffes are commonplace in over three quarters of resumes, says a recent study by TeamLease Services, which picked these out from a newly-arrived bunch. TeamLease is a large, Indian staffing company headquartered in Bangalore.

Since the start of the global economic downturn, Indian companies are flooded with resumes. Candidates are frequently updating their CVs on online job websites. The economic recession has reversed the situation for many in India where, until recently, jobs chased candidates.

But stress from a weak job market is now showing up in the resumes. Analyzing resumes of 500 entry- to mid-level job aspirants across different industries in July, TeamLease found that more than 90 percent of them had errors in some form or other.

“If a resume helps open doors at companies, many of these people would not get a toehold,” says Surabhi Mathur-Gandhi, general manager at TeamLease.

For one, many Indians write long, drawn-out resumes. Against the acceptable international one-page, the typical Indian resume for entry-level jobs runs into six or seven pages, says Ravi Shankar K. who heads Weir Minerals India, the local subsidiary of the UK-based pump and valve manufacturer.

After 13 years of work experience in the United States, Shankar says his concise, one-page resume would surprise many Indians.

Often, candidates’ resumes follow a cookie-cutter pattern making it obvious that they got help from the "resume blaster" websites, says Sridhar Ramanujam, who heads a branding and consulting firm BrandComm. He has been receiving a glut of resumes since the start of the economic downturn.