In normal circumstances, graduates much like you typically settle into first jobs a few weeks to a couple of months after convocation, barring a gap year. Or you may have been driven to take on any number of internships, while spending months planning your career with campus career coaches. Some of you may have even secured a role before graduation.
But the present time is nothing like normal circumstances.
Your career plans were completely derailed. The job you landed before graduation might have been rescinded. And even though you’ve been sending out applications, the job market resembles a wasteland, consisting of either part-time, odd, or temporary contract work. There may also be opportunities for traineeships under the SGUnited Traineeship Programme.
Whether you decide to take up a temporary job or learn new skills, chances are your potential employer will want to know about what you’ve been up to during the pandemic. So how do you go about communicating this?
Part-time, freelance, odd or temporary jobs
While you may never have dreamt of being a food delivery rider when you were in school studying your fancy business course, you’ll still learn plenty on-the-job if you decide to try that route to earn some money. Capitalise on this when you’re updating your resume. Consider putting similar jobs under one heading and jot down all the experience you gained from all your temporary jobs and tailor them to each role you’re applying for.
Emphasise the transferable skills you picked up as well. For example, if you held the position of cashier temporarily, you can list the interpersonal and communications skills you picked up on-the-job. You can also consider taking out positions not relevant to the role you’re gunning for. For instance, if you’re applying to a teaching role, you can choose to omit the temporary job you held as a cashier, but highlight the stint you had as an English tutor.
The good news is that employers are more forgiving of a resume that shows a range of part-time, odd, or temporary work. In fact, a survey done showed that recruiters don’t even see gaps in resumes as red flags anymore!
If you chose to take the time to earn certificates or learn a new language, whether by attending webinars or digital courses, be sure to list your achievements down in the “Qualifications” section of your resume. If you choose to group your achievements by type, you can also arrange them in chronological order of completed date.
A popular activity most graduates normally add to their resumes is project work done in school. Including competitions taken part in during undergraduate days is a favourite choice as well. But with many activities and competitions brought to a stall by the pandemic, this section of your resume may end up looking a little sparse.
Consider beefing up this section with activities you’ve done at home in your own time. Examples of these activities include picking up new hobbies (like pottery or gardening), volunteering with vulnerable communities or at animal shelters, or even learning how to cook different cuisines.
Other points to take note of
Be sure to specify when you’ve wrapped up a temporary or part-time job. For instance, if you stopped driving Grab a few weeks prior to applying for a position, make sure the dates are reflected correctly, instead of “to present”.
Update your resume as soon as you achieve something as well, whether it’s finishing a fictional series or completing a course. You can also ask some acquaintances for written references as well, and sprinkle their positive quotes around your resume to liven it up.
On a slightly different note, update your portfolio regularly, and consider using the functional resume format instead, to focus on your skills rather than the jobs you held.
Ultimately, don’t be discouraged by the gaps in your resume. You’re not alone in this; plenty of your peers are also going through the same hardship. As long as you’re working and building up on your experience, or taking up courses and learning new skills, you’re already taking steps towards your first official job. Stay strong, and continue putting yourself out there!