The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many into unemployment and created a tough competition for job seekers. As one of the first impressions of a potential employer is based on the resumé, a well-prepared document can help you stand out.
But what kind of resumé works for a mid-careerist who was laid off from a sector like tourism - where the jobs have dried up in this pandemic - and needs to apply for a position in a totally different field, such as e-commerce?
Career coaches Yeo Kia Li of NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute, and Zarina Abu Bakar of Workforce Singapore talked to The Straits Times, giving tips on making your skills and experience work for you.
Start with a professional summary
This provides a quick summary of your background, skills and experience in four to five lines, and it should convey your selling points and main strengths, Zarina said.
An example would be "Regional operations and marketing professional with global brands for over a decade, driving go-to-market sales and successfully implementing business process design and workflow optimisation".
Have a "core competencies" section
This part should emphasise transferable and marketable skills related to the work for which you are applying. There can be both work or industry-specific hard skills like software or machinery skills and soft skills such as communication, leadership, and customer service.
It helps get through the candidate monitoring system tools used by some bigger organisations that scan in resumés for keywords.
Yeo Kia Li suggests using a Microsoft Word document unless otherwise specified by the recruiter, as some tools for human resources have trouble identifying keywords in PDF files.
For career switchers: Emphasise transferable skills
If you are applying for a position in a new industry, Zarina says, you should explicitly state your intention in the overview to make a career transition and clarify how your transferable skills and previous work experience will relate to the new role and sector.
After your work title, add a short description to demonstrate your transferable skills, Yeo said.
For instance, if you were a software engineer and now want to work in project management, you might write your job title as "software engineer (with a strong focus on project management)."
Find keywords related to your desired job that match up with your previous experience and include them throughout your resumé.
These keywords help you move past electronic filters. "A resumé full of accounting keywords will have a hard time getting past filters for a job in marketing," said Yeo.
You may also include professional association memberships, volunteering, internships or part-time consulting, if applicable to the new sector or position.
Include any courses or technical certifications applicable to the new sector and work, even if the course is ongoing (indicate the year it will be completed), said Zarina. "This is a strong signal to prospective employers that you are indeed serious in making the switch to the new job and sector."
Later in the resumé you should provide a chronological section to provide a summary of your past work experience.
For fresh graduates: Play up what you have learnt
Highlight the expertise and skills you learned from your research, internships or work attachments. You should list internships and attachments in a chronological portion of your resumé. Include information such as area of work, tasks and any accomplishments made for the employer, Zarina said.
Yeo said it is also important to demonstrate how the skills and knowledge gained through your extra-curricular experience can allow you to be a good contributor or problem-solver in the role you are applying for.
Specify major career accomplishments from your previous jobs and explain how you can give your future employer a similar result, said Zarina.
These could include any quantifiable effort on your part to improve the productivity, quality or efficiency of work, or generate revenue for the company, for example.
However, refrain from adding minor achievements. Be selective of what you put in your resumé, she added.
Include temporary roles
Taking up temporary jobs or apprenticeships during the Covid-19 time will help fill the pause in your resumé and provide opportunities for networking. Job seekers can also sharpen their skills, especially soft skills like time management, problem solving and communication, said Zarina.
Yeo adds that you should show the importance of the temporary experience and view it as strengths, a can-do spirit, and that you should have no problem doing such work.
Network in digital spaces
Findings have shown that a good LinkedIn presence and a resumé that includes a link to a detailed and interactive LinkedIn profile lead to far more interviews or call-backs, said Yeo.
"It is not difficult to imagine that hiring managers would be more impressed when applicants continue to be active in professional circles and are committed to networking in turbulent times like the current one," she said.
She also recommended creating a video resumé to further stand out. This means making a video presentation in a technical and personal way.