Crafting Effective Resumes

Here's a guide to writing effective resumes and putting together attention-grabbing applications.
The gradsingapore Team
The gradsingapore Team

Resumes can come in a variety of formats – namely, the chronological, skills-based, combination, and alternative resume. The most commonly used format is the chronological resume, as it is reader-friendly and easily customisable. Do note, however, that each format has their pros and cons, so do your research and find out which one can best serve your recruitment needs before deciding on one.

Regardless of which type of resume you choose to use, the idea behind its presentation remains the same. What's more important is to adapt the various elements of the format and tailor its contents to highlight your skills and to distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Here's a sample chronological resume to help you get started.

1. Make your name stand out!

Use a different font, or enlarge and bold the font so that the first thing a recruiter will see when they pick this up will be your name. Putting it in upper-case is a good move too as i It will make your resume easy to find amidst a stack of documents, too.

2. Verbs are your best friends

Always use action verbs whenever possible, focusing on your role and the results you achieved. 

3. Results speak for themselves

Avoid self-promotion or empty waffle. That's just patting yourself on the back. An effective resume lets the candidate's results speak for themselves.

4. Be more than a worker

Feel free to use your resume to reveal the breadth and depth of your skills, interests, and hobbies that frames you positively. Do not, however, let your resume exceed two pages.

5. Check with your references!

Whenever possible, always include references as an indication of credibility! Also, be absolutely sure to consult all your references before you nominate them. Nothing ruins an application like an unprepared reference or an unfavourable review.

Other elements that you should consider

  • What's in a typeface?

While you may think a unique typeface may make you stand out, unless you're going for an alternative CV, it may put off employers instead. Here are some examples of typefaces that you should use… and some that you shouldn't.

Typefaces to avoid

Comic Sans MS: The red-headed stepchild of modern typefaces, the quirky but dreadfully overused Comic Sans MS has no place on a CV.

Monotype Corsiva: Unless you're applying for a job as a dramatic actor, Monotype Corsiva's fancy flourishes are difficult to read and are more likely to annoy than to impress a recruiter.

Typefaces to use

Arial: The standard "sans" typeface. Arial's clean, easy-to-read feel makes it ideal for a CV. Font size 10 to 11 works just fine, and Tahoma and Calibri are decent substitutes too!

Times New Roman: The standard “serif” typeface, Times New Roman is another safe bet that looks slightly more elegant than Arial. Some of the more “easy-going” industries, like IT and media, might find Times New Roman to be too formal, though.

Verdana: Another common "sans" typeface. If done correctly, Verdana can be used to very classy effect even if you plan to create an alternative CV.

  • Personal statements

Graduates are often in doubt about personal statements (also known as a career aim, profile, or mission statement): what purpose does it serve, and should they include it in their resume?

Our answer: A graduate resume typically does not need a personal statement because an effective personal statement requires details that fresh graduates are not yet able to provide. 

Typically limited to only two to three sentences, good personal statements summarise your career goals, as well as unique experience/achievements, knowledge, or skills that you can offer to your prospective employer. These are details that you can only provide after having been in the workforce for some time. 

  • Bridging offline and online 

With the job search process and recruiters moving online, it's a wise move to link your offline resume to your online profile, especially your LinkedIn account or sites containing work samples. It lets you start "interacting" with potential employers before being invited for your first interview, giving them an early overview of your past achievements. 

When including the link to your LinkedIn account, make sure to use the public profile URL instead of the link that you copy from the browser's usual URL box when you're logged into your account.

You can also customise your LinkedIn public profile URL to build your personal brand and make it more memorable to recruiters and networking contacts. You can do this through the "Privacy & Settings" section of your LinkedIn homepage.