Tips to beef up your resume
The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the hiring managers.
Applying for a new job or an internship opportunity is usually a terrifying experience for many, especially when it comes to the interview process.
Yet, way before anyone steps through a company’s doors, they would first have to leap over the hurdle of making a good first impression with their resume and cover letter.
In this period when opportunities are scarce, the pressure to stand out only worsens. There is a galaxy of resources and tips on the internet on making resumes stand out.
While it might still be best to consult them, here are five common tips consolidated across websites to keep in mind while crafting and beefing up your resume.
1. Be concise
A general rule of thumb while writing the cover letter and resume is to assume that the first point of contact could be anyone in the company — be it an intern, executive or a manager. As such, the language used should be direct, concise and attention-grabbing (in a good way, of course).
Make your intentions clear and write in simple sentences. Use power words to amplify (and twist) achievements and past experiences. Another underrated tip is to use numbers whenever possible; “9” is way easier to process than “nine”.
For students applying for their first internship or job, it might be difficult to fill up the resume with a lack of working experience. Nevertheless, it remains important to prioritise the most important and relevant accomplishments, although being a group leader in a primary school camp probably might not be worth bringing up in any resume.
The opposite might be true for veterans in the working world, where it might be tempting to list down every single job and achievement in the past. It’s important to keep a separate master list for this, but the goal should be to make it easy for whoever gets your resume to want to interview you.
Hiring managers may have to go through dozens of applications each day so one way is to keep the entire resume to one page or less. Think of your resume as an elevator pitch.
2. Tinker your resume for the job you are applying
Job hunting is a tiring and tedious process. Everyone tends to cut corners by sending out the same cover letter and resume template to everyone with the company’s name replaced.
What will work better is to go the extra mile to learn about their goals, history and culture before tailoring a specific cover letter and resume. Channel your inner psycho ex if you have to and scour their online presence.
Also, it is equally important to understand the job description during the crafting process.
Similarly, it might be best to refer to resume samples as well to get a better idea of what may be best to include in yours. Remember, the goal is to make it easy for the company to hire you and the best way to achieve that is to know your enemy and to know yourself.
3. Style your resume with Canva
You don’t need to have studied design to create an eye-catching resume. Canva.com is home to a ton of resume templates to borrow and be inspired from.
Of course, there would still be some finesse required to determine which template would work best for each application. For example, bright, funky colours should probably be avoided while applying for colder, formal jobs where professionalism is more valued.
4. Look to spruce your resume up
Following up on the previous point, templates should only be a guide and not necessarily just something to replace your own details with. It might pay off to go the extra mile by translating some information into eye-catching infographics and pie charts, or play with text fonts and sizes to emphasise an achievement.
With everyone so used to scanning QR codes by now, it might be a good idea to generate and include one for a link to your online portfolio. If you can’t be creative, look around the Internet for inspiration.
Beyond design, look to expand what you can include in your resume. It could be through non-traditional work experiences such as volunteering and community work (although the purpose shouldn’t be just for having something in your resume). You can also pick up a new language, look to turn your hobby into something marketable, or make use of your Skillsfuture credits to upskill with helpful courses.
5. Always triple-check your resume before sending them out
Sometimes we might be so caught up with the bigger picture that we forget the small details can count just as much in any job application. One way to save the trouble and stress from applications is to constantly collate and update a master list of jobs, achievements and contact details to refer to.
Always proofread your resume and cover letters before sending them out and let a friend read it through just to be extra sure. Remember to include updated contact information; it may be best to finally replace firstname.lastname@example.org with a more professionally-named email account.
Even the tiny details should be minded. Look to save and share your resume in PDF format to minimise chances that all the hard work formatting it doesn’t go to waste. Renaming the file name with your name and position you are applying for is also an appreciated gesture that would save a ton of work for hiring managers.
The pandemic has brought one of the worst economic periods of our lifetimes so don’t be too disheartened that all the hard work crafting the resume amounts to nothing. When one door closes, another opens.