Writing Graduate Résumés: FAQs Answered

Discover our answers to commonly asked questions about graduate résumés and pick up tips on how you can impress employers with a strong one.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

Crafting a résumé is something completely new for many graduates, and there are many burning questions graduates tend to ask when they start putting their résumés together for the first time.

Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about résumé-writing which will cover basic details, such as formatting and fonts. You can find more advanced guides on writing an effective résumé here.

1. What font should I use for my résumé?

As a rule of thumb, your résumé should provide clarity. You can’t expect for information on your résumé to be communicated clearly, if the font itself gets in the way of that.

Safe fonts to use include Times New Roman, Arial and Verdana. Aim for consistency – it can be disorienting to read a document with different fonts and font sizes. You should also stick to the same style and font size for headings and subheadings throughout.

2. Should I refrain from using colours when designing my résumé?

No, you don’t have to! If adding some colour to your résumé will make it more attractive, go ahead by all means.

Do keep in mind of the industry and employer you are applying to, though. If you’re applying to an employer a creative industry, a vibrant and colourful résumé may catch the attention of recruiters. However, submitting a résumé with an over-the-top design for an accountant position at a consulting company, for instance, may not be the best idea.

3. What file format should I use for my résumé?

This depends on the employer you are applying to. Check if there are specific instructions from your recruiter.

Sending your résumé in pdf format will ensure your format stays the same when recruiters receive it, but some employers may prefer for their job applicants to send in their résumés in Microsoft Word format. This is more common among bigger employers because some of them use software to screen résumés, which is a trend that has been dominating the recruitment space these days.

4. How long should your résumé be?

Employers typically expect graduate résumés to be one to two pages long (A4 sized). Be sure to check if employers have requirements on the length of your résumé too.

The key to writing a résumé is to keep your points concise, and you will have to curate relevant and important information to include in it. Avoid sounding long-winded, and keep your résumé as brief as possible.

5. What layout should I go for?

The answer to this question is quite subjective. If you are thinking of injecting personality and creativity to your résumé, you need to think about the industry and employer you are applying to, as mentioned in the second point of this article.

Keeping your layout simple would be your safest bet. What's important is that recruiters are able to immediately see your relevant skills and experiences from just a quick glance over your résumé. As such, you should make use of effective headings and subheadings.

6. Should I use bullet points in my résumé?

Yes, you should. Bullet points will help make your points succinct, which is something you should always aim for when crafting your résumé.

However, bullet points are not something you must use. Short, punchy paragraphs can be an alternative, as long as you are able to highlight your skills, strengths and compatibility for the role.

7. What information do I have to include in my résumé?

The three details you absolutely need to include are (1) your contact details; (2) work experience; and (3) your education background.

You can include other sections such as extra-curricular activities, awards and interests – but these should be given less priority.

8. What filename should I give my résumé?

Avoid naming it something generic like Résumé.pdf or Résumé.docx. Include your first name and surname in the filename (e.g. Monica Tan – Résumé.pdf).

This is to ensure that employers can distinguish your résumé from other applicants’. However, if there are specific instructions from the employer on how you should name your file, be sure to follow them.