The COVID-19 pandemic has shown everyone that computer literacy is essential, especially in our technologically advanced world. Students and office workers alike are able to carry out their daily responsibilities (albeit in a new normal that requires much getting used to) with Work From Home (WFH) and E-Learning arrangements.
Here’s another digital skill that one must develop and own: Resume Writing.
All hiring managers (or recruiters) require a copy of your resume before deciding whether to grant you an interview, or even better, the job position you are applying for. Some job applications may even require a cover letter, but generally, a resume is the basic requirement.
Now, read this sentence in your head:
“When you connect to the silence within you, that is when you can make sense of the disturbance going on around you.”
That is the amount of time a recruiter takes to look at your resume and decide whether to approve of your resume or to pass it on for a better one. According to eye-tracking research, recruiters only take 6-7 seconds to do so! Hence, you must ensure that your resume has the right Structure and Content for the most Impact (SCI).
Structure of a Resume
Having the right Structure helps the recruiter read through your resume with greater ease. Start with basic information such as your name and contact information. As a student, you may choose to use your school email or your personal email. If you are using the latter, be sure to use an email that is professional looking. A recruiter might think that you are not treating the job application seriously with a silly email address and thus ignore your resume from the get-go.
A resume should reflect all the competencies that you have to offer to the company you are applying to. With that said, you should not use one resume and send the exact same copy to 6 companies in different industries. Remember, these are distinct companies offering every different products and services. Even between companies in the same industry, they are bound to vary in terms on company culture, brand mission and more. They are far more likely to hire you if you are deemed a good fit, thus recruiters will seek those with skills that can meet the company’s needs or add value.
Generally, your resume will follow such a structure:
Content in a Resume for Impact
Remember, they are only willing to give you 8 seconds to impress them! You should list your achievements in BULLET points with the key information. Start by writing down every detail you can remember pertaining the role you took. Pick the ones that will reflect a skill that the company you are applying to will want. Next, you will see how you phrase that task for maximum Impact.
Academics are not a tie breaker when it comes to accepting resumes, but it sure doesn't hurt to let the recruiter know you are performing well in school. If you have accepted any form of certificate or award for academic excellence, include it under this section. It is not limited to internal accolades from your school. Math, Science Olympiad or any other recognised events held externally are encouraged as well. Don't worry if academics is not your strong suit, and you do not have acknowledgements to write off. You can rely on the next few sections - experience and achievements.
Experience and Achievements
Remember that part time job you took to earn some extra pocket money? Well, you should write it down! Contrary to what you may think, any job that you have taken up has granted you some sort of skill. I started to work part time as a waitress at banquets and hotel restaurants when I was Sec 3. I then took up my first internship as an engagement intern in my first year of JC at a company specialising in digital advancements and transformation. One might ask: What on earth does clearing dishes have to do with technology? Well, when writing my resume for the internship application, I used LOAD. This is one way that you can write about your achievements at work, school, CCA and even your volunteer work!
Length of bullet point: Ensure that you sufficiently elaborated in each bullet point. A rule of thumb is to ensure that your point takes up at least half the space across the page.
Overused: Do NOT repeat words used to describe your resume across different sections more than two times. This puts you at risk of earning 3 bad impression points. Firstly, repetition of words will make your experiences appear similar. This tells the recruiter that you have not developed or learnt new skills across different roles. Even if you have only carried out 2 roles, there are bound to be differences that you should ultimately specify. Secondly, repeating tells the recruiter that you have not meticulously thought about your resume. A quick and simple search for synonyms on Google will solve that problem for you. Thirdly, repeating key points or words makes you NOT stand out from possibly 20 other resumes. Never underestimate the extent of your experience. To do so, you must start with Action words.
Action: Your goal is to leave an impact on the recruiter. Action words help the recruiter readily understand the scope of your achievement and your capabilities.
Detail: Think hard about the effects of your role. How many people benefitted from what you did? Did you do it independently? Are there numerical benefits arising from your work? Don't be afraid to go into the specifics. Be confident in the impact that you brought about!
Let's now look at the following snippet of a resume written by Person A and Person B. Can you identify which person used LOAD in their resume?
Helped school teachers plan bonding activities for my CCA
Helped to keep my CCA room clean and tidy
Spearheaded and executed 2 large scale bonding sessions held at Singapore Sports Stadium for over 50 students
Organized weekly maintenance of common CCA room to ensure its cleanliness for the well being of 50 students
Which resume do you think will catch the recruiter's eyes?
B is correct! Take a look at how B used LOAD:
Action word Detail
"Spearheaded the execution of 2 large scale bonding sessions held at Singapore Sports Stadium for over 50 students"
Detail No repeated words. Sufficient bullet length.
Can you identify LOAD in Person B's second bullet point?
Skills and Interests
Those without any part time experience or CCA achievements write of, fret not! You can differentiate yourself from the rest by writing about the hard and soft skills you have. Hard skills refer to those that require certification. You may have attended a course organised by your school on Photoshop or signed on online for a coding workshop on your own accord - write about these! Soft skills refer to those that are transferrable from one work place to another. Recruiters value the following soft skills:
In this segment, you can use one example to show that you have that corresponding skill. For example:
Public speaking Confidently emceed at an annual student council's investiture, hosting over 10 schools with 20 VIPs
What shouldn't you do when writing your resume?
Here are some common mistakes that you might be prone to, especially when you're writing your resume for the first time.
While your goal is to make the recruiter notice you, you should never exaggerate and lie about your skills. Not only is this morally wrong, this reflects poorly of your character and when exposed, can lead to serious complications like termination of your job.
Don't use words you don't understand
Repeating words can tell the recruiter you weren't meticulous, but using different words in the wrong way will scream to the recruiter that you were careless and WILL cost you an opportunity. Be sure to check the meaning of the word before using it.
Don't forget to check
Check, check, check. Check if your sentences are grammatically correct. Check if you included your numbers in your content. Check for spelling mistakes. Check for formatting. Yes, even the number of spaces or the alignment of bullet points matter. Your resume should look clean and neat for the recruiter to peruse easily and comfortably.
Don't forget to let someone proofread
This could be your parent, your teacher or any trusted adult. You absolutely do not have to worry if you make mistakes. After all, mistakes make room for improvement and improvement brings us closer to our personal goal: get hired.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is not in writing your resume, but getting started on writing your resume. It may seem a daunting experience, having to take on this task that you may have unconsciously labelled as an 'adult only' activity. This fear is justified, but ultimately debilitating. My advice to you is to carry this fear with you, and trudge on. It is okay to be afraid of the unknown, but when life moves on, so must you. I hope that you found this blog useful, even if it's only a segment. I sincerely hope that you succeed in getting your dream job! Interested in being equipped with in-demand job skills such as marketing, coding and UI/UX design trained by industry professionals for free (usually $500-$1000)? Send us an enquiry through the chat function!