Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

1-page resume that says it all

The last time I redesigned (not updated) my resume was 2009. Since then, my understanding of ease-of-use, information architecture & win-loss has grown several fold. Late last year I realized that my resume looks archaic and needs a revamp.

The need was to create something that was:

  • information rich yet not cluttered
  • comprehensible yet not funky
  • likely to get past through the recruiter’s clutter.

Several opinions & tweaks later, I finally published a release candidate that I wanted to share. Yes, sharing definitely looses the competitive advantage at a PM opening, but what use is creativity that’s kept to yourself. I hope this bit on the design rationale helps all.

Single-page resume that says it all!
Single-page resume that says it all!

The importance of Page 1

It’s a no-brainer how crucial the first page is to recruiters, considering their daily swim in the resume swarm. The key was to summarize everything that mattered to them on Page 1, while deferring details to following pages. More importantly, it also acts as a printable summary  Continue reading 1-page resume that says it all

5 benefits of indulging yourself in pet projects

You have every right to question my proposal – haven’t projects at work already tamed our lives for the worst? Well, yes definitely. But I’m not talking about work-related projects, or even the side projects that your cool workplace encourages. I’m talking about every other little project that needn’t advance your career or make you money (at least to begin with). The reason I’m distinguishing this from hobbies is because a hobby can keep you amused for an entire life-time – like numismatics for me. Projects on the other hand will usually have an end-result.

Courtesy: drrajivdesaimd.com
Staying the grey zone

The result is what is crucial to creating a sense of achievement & satisfaction. It is only one of the benefits you would you see while engaging yourself in a pet project. Here are some more:

1. Sense passion and purpose

The monotony or stress at work takes a hit on passion. A project with the right amount of challenge can bring you back in the grey zone and you will experience passion. Additionally,
Continue reading 5 benefits of indulging yourself in pet projects

Things to carry when you quit your job

There is so much talk about how to go about quitting your job, but there is such little focus on what you should take with you after you’ve quit your job. I’m not asking you to violate policies or steal data; but just reminding you to carry stuff that belongs to you which is going to come handy in the future.

From the payroll system:

What to pack in your box?
What to pack in your box?
  1. Copies of last 6 salary slips
    If HR/Admin co-operates, get them stamped with the company seal. This helps if you’re still looking for a job. You should also look for any Loss-of-Pay (LOP) days in there (see below).
  2. Form 16s for the years you’ve been with the company
    This has to be on your file! It is mandatory to process loans, and also required for visas and insurance at times. If not available in your online HRMS, Finance or HR will surely have a copy.
  3. Copy of the Tax slip for the current year
    This highlights the heads under which you were paid and how much tax was deducted. This will be a life-saver when filing returns (if your old company delays/denies you a Form-16) in the following year, because your CA has to access salaries received from both companies.

From the leave & attendance system:

  1. Snapshot of leave balance in each leave category
    This will allow you to reconcile the balance days you’ve been paid for in the F&F (full & final) statement.
  2. Track of Loss-of-pay days
    Whatever your company calls it: leave-without-pay or loss-of-pay, keep track of these days by going over salary slips for the past months. If possible, regularize these days, get them approved and reconcile in your F&F.

From Finance/HR:

  1. PF account number/office OR PF deposit slips
    Good news! In India, your PF account is now online on the EPFO website; all you need is your PF account number & office/zone to keep track of the balance. You can get this info from your HR/Finance department. They would also have a deposit slip for each year Continue reading Things to carry when you quit your job

5 tips to eat all you can at a buffet

Foodies love buffets. I love buffets for 2 reasons: I get to try out a lot of dishes which I would otherwise never order; the other being I can hog as much as I like. Often times, amateurs at a buffet regret not having enjoyed their money’s worth.

After several tummy-full buffets, I have put together this list of tips for those interested.

1. Stay hungry & reach on time

Call this Buffet 101 if you wish to, but even if you don’t wish to hog, make sure you have enough hunger for a full meal. If you reach on time, you are likely to have the best lot, well-marinated, well-cooked and pampered by the chef. Refills are sometimes done in a hurry to meet the demand.

2. Browse the menu before starting

I’ve seen folks get excited by a Live pasta counter or Chicken Lollypops in the appetizer, only to find a their favorite main course or dessert for which they have no space left. Know the menu and plan your meal 🙂

3. Experiment with yourself: try everything

We usually tend to order the same things over and over when dining à la carte, Continue reading 5 tips to eat all you can at a buffet

10 international air travel tips

Be prepared!
Be prepared!

1. Keep copies of travel docs
Nothing is worse than losing your passport or tickets and getting stranded in foreign land. Always keep a copy of your passport in every piece of baggage. An extra copy of air ticket & visa won’t hurt if you recycle them when you return.

2. Distribute your currency
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; spread money across your bags and some in your wallet. Use a spare purse or a self-sealing bag to keep the currency of the port you’re leaving that you can move back in when you return.

3. Check local weather
Weather can be a real spoiler. Quite a few parts of Asia & Europe are infamous for random showers. Be prepared. A folding umbrella or a monkey cap – or at least, the right pair of shoes – can really save a day.

4. Know about your consulate
It is essential to know how your country is represented in places you are visiting. It could be an embassy, a consulate or served by the diplomatic mission of another country. Fortunately, I have never had to use this information. But this is the first place and your last resort if shit hits the roof.

5. Download offline maps on your device
Avoid messy paper maps by downloading local road & public transport information on your smartphone, tablet or pad. If Google doesn’t let you, use Maps (-) on Android to save maps offline. And then if you have a local SIM, Continue reading 10 international air travel tips

3 reasons you should innovate all the time, even in relationships

To be very honest, I don’t see a reason why someone should stray away from innovation. Thinking ‘New’ keeps your idea muscle toned for tough challenges. But here’s 3 reasons why you should innovate all the time: not just on the professional front, but also in relationships. After all, as LinkedIn says, relationships matter.

1. Not all ideas from the past scale

Storyboard
Storyboard

There could have been some things that worked very well for you in the past. But everything changes with time, ideas get stale, and they won’t always scale to match the situation – if at all they still work. A 20 picture photo album might have made for a lovely Valentine’s day, but that does not mean that a 200-slide story board – full of pictures and promises – can save a relationship. You have to think fresh! Eat Subway if it takes that 🙂

2. Not all ideas click (plan for failure)

Courtesy: BrownPaperBags.org
What I tore & stitched back 🙁

I once had to put some things together in a paper bag (like the McDonalds carry bag – sorry can’t think outside food), and snail mail it. I had to attach a note, and trying to be creative, I decided to use the inside of the bag. So, I cut the edges of the bag to make it one long sheet of paper (kinda rotulus), wrote the message on it (in black so it would be noticed) and stitched it back with tape. Outcome? It hit the trash can – unnoticed. I failed to deliver the message. Don’t be shy of failure, the world today is chasing failure, and the Tata’s are even giving out awards for failing. But make sure you have enough alternatives to compensate for the failure, without really having to start over.
Make yourself a promise:
I will always have 5 alternate ideas or planned for 5  un-happy scenarios (what does not fall on the happy path) before executing an idea

3. Competition is catching up fast

Need I say more?


Conclusion:

Innovate or perish. Sharpen your axe. Work out your idea muscle. Have coffee, or Subway, or whatever helps you think. Do something special for that special one: be it your better half or your project/product. It’s up to you to save it!

Marginalia: If you are planning to make them coffee, remember that if you make a heart with Hershey’s on it, it will sink. Instead, try rangoli (sprinkling) with coffee powder.

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Why ignorance is bliss today & 5 ways to ignore online junk

I’m a cleanliness freak – to the extent of cleaning up my Facebook wall. Over the last week, there’s been a lot of spam with wall messages that read: “Hahaha! Mine is hilarious. Check out yours”? Familiar? Yes, that silly app which tells you how you would look in the future. I never tried it, but tired of the requests, I urged friends to avoid it via a FB update. 13 people liked it, but I only hope its the latter of these 2 messages it conveys: how awful I look, and how useless that app is. (I take everybody’s privacy too seriously, hence some masking)

My Status Update
Still wondering what 13 people really liked?

Publicity fail

That application – whatever its name is – is a complete fail in terms of its messaging. Understand the scenario: that app is sending me a persuading message to try it on a friend’s recommendation. The least I expect is Continue reading Why ignorance is bliss today & 5 ways to ignore online junk