10 Tips for an Impressive Résumé

Everyone has a résumé to show to their prospective employers.
So how can you stand out from the crowd?

By Lim Yan Wen

Most of you would have tried your hands at drafting up your own résumé. These days, it’s all about packaging - a well-packaged résumé will attract the eyeballs of the people you want to impress. We’re not talking about being outstanding in an outlandish way. The key to a successful résumé is to personalise and tailor it to the company that you are applying to.

Of course, we hope you have accumulated enough substance over the years to beef up your résumé too! Zooming in on the details, here are Career Central’s 10 tips for an impressive résumé.

#1: Photo perfect
Don’t worry if you’re not photogenic. Your potential employers would want to know who they’re hiring, and if they can match a face to your name and achievements, it would definitely boost your chances. Wear business clothes when getting your photo taken, and don’t forget to smile! Ideally, the photo should show your face clearly from the front (no funny angles, all you camwhores out there!), and be similar in size to your passport photo. Place the photo at the top right hand corner of your résumé.

When it comes to fonts, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Business fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial are popular because of how they’re easy to read. So even if you fancy cursive and complex fonts, avoid using them in your résumé, as you do not want to run the risk of coming across as juvenile or indecipherable to the hiring manager. A font size ranging from 10-12 will be ideal.

#3: Write in complete sentences
Even if you are using bullet points for your résumé, the points you raise should not be too brief, and must be explained in complete sentences. Doing so will lend you more credibility as a jobseeker, but do avoid coming up with long paragraphs for each point.

#4: Use Sub-headings
Sub-headings such as “Education”, “Internships” and “Hobbies” are good for organising your résumé. Employers also prefer information to be listed in a chronological order, so as to understand your background at a glance.

#5: Don’t decorate
Not excessively, anyway. You want to come across as impressive and credible, not too ‘cute’ for your own good. Kill the temptation to add floral borders or any other unnecessary graphics. Feel free to use a bigger font for your name and sub-headings, but in terms of colours used, stick to black as far as possible.

#6: Image, Image, Image
It’s about creating the image that matches the salary you will eventually be asking for. Use powerful language to enhance and sell your skills. For example, instead of saying “I was involved in XXX,” you could say “I assisted with the production of XXX”. Elaborate on how you can contribute in specific ways to the company, in relation to the position you’re applying for. If you can highlight your strengths substantially, salary negotiation should be a breeze later.

#7: Top-down approach
Don’t make the mistake of putting your most impressive achievements right at the end; you would have lost your chance to impress by then. Place your most outstanding achievement or quality at the top, after your basic information and schooling history. Describe what you have done in effective yet concise language, and remember to quantify each achievement where possible.

#8: Paper problem
While most people would play safe and print on plain old white paper, it doesn’t hurt to be slightly different. Go for papers with a plain, smooth finishing and are slightly heavier than plain copier paper for a professional look. However, avoid fancy papers with special finishing such as glossy or ‘linen’ surfaces. These are expensive and don’t really add value to your résumé.

#9: Word or pdf?

Both are perfectly fine, but the danger in using Microsoft Word is that a hiring manager who’s using Windows XP might not be able to open a document that you have created using Windows Vista. To be safe, convert your résumé to the Adobe PDF format. Not only does it make your résumé look more professional, you also minimise the risk of your employer not being able to open the file.

#10: Customise your résumé
When it comes to applying for jobs, never assume that onesize fits all. Showcase your efforts by addressing your cover letter to the person-in-charge. For each position you’re vying for, place your most pertinent achievement and experiences at the top. Paying attention to such details would definitely pay off when you receive the invitation to an interview!

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