resume: a guide for fresh grads
The key to effective resume writing is knowing what your strong points
are. By drawing attention to experiences that highlight these strengths --
academic, extra-curricular or even volunteer work -- your resume can be a
powerful tool to land you that much coveted first job.
Santamaria graduates this March with a degree in management from a large
Manila university. While excited about leaving school behind, she can't
erase niggling fears about her chances in today's tough job market. Can
she compete with thousands of other jobhunters, many of whom can boast of
years of professional experience, impressive track record and work skills
she doesn't have?
Many new graduates are feeling a lot like Jing these days. But there's no
need to fret. With a little creative thinking, you can greatly enhance you
employment chances. The first thing to do is draft a power resume that
will grab hiring managers' attention.
"The resume provides the job applicant the proverbial
'foot-in-the-door' that could later lead to an interview," says Mr
Ernesto O. Cecilia, immediate past president of the Personnel Management
Association of the Philippines or PMAP. "If you want the prospective
employer to be interested in you as a possible employee, you better
compose an effective resume. Otherwise, your 'bio-data' will end up with
others in the trashcan."
So how does a new college graduate go about making that sellout resume?
The power of packaging
If you'd been a working student, your job experience-no matter how lowly
you think it is-comes in handy. It all depends on how you package it. For
instance, translate your six-month stint at Jollibee into effective
resumespeak: "Gained valuable service-oriented experience at a
fast-paced, high-volume business." Or, how would you describe your
part-time job at a paging company? "Developed communication skills
and customer-relations experience at a well-established telecom
company." By choosing your words with care, you can show prospective
employers that despite the lack of experience at a genuine career, you're
not exactly wet behind the ears in the work environment.
And even without any work background, you can still apply this packaging
ploy to describe your school life and how it relates to the position
you're applying for. Show that though not an expert yet, you have some
experience that could be useful in the workplace. Dina, who's worked as a
TV news reporter for a year now, did exactly that. In her resume, she
highlighted her stint as a TV intern and was hired to an entry-level
position in a TV newsroom. About her internship, she wrote: "Active
member of roving news team, took down notes and conducted interviews with
government figures and wrote reports for the 7 p.m. news."
Another new graduate, Don, a Literature major, used his experience as a
writer for the school paper to land a position in a political magazine,
while Delia's stint as a part-time accountant's aide in college served her
well when applying for a position at a Makati-based accounting
What's important to remember is that your resume should
not be a mere listing of your college jobs, the courses you took,
your grades, the seminars you attended. Rather, it should point to your
achievements, your leadership qualities and how you performed beyond
expectations. Say you headed the group that won first prize in a school
debate, then highlight that as an example of your leadership skills. Or,
if you took an active role organizing school plays, include that to prove
your organizing and coordinating skills. You want to show potential.
Dos and don'ts
So, you've managed to package yourself well, turning what you thought was
a lemon into a lemonade. But that's not all there is to a brilliant
resume. Below are some dos and don'ts to bear in mind:
- Avoid spelling
boo-boos. Errors of any kind reflect poorly on the job applicant,
especially simple typo blunders, says Mr Cecilia, who exhorts
applicants to proofread their resumes over and over until they're
- Streamline. Remove
personal pronouns like "I" and articles like " a,"
"an" and "the" to create punchy phrases and save
space. Don't write: "As a service crew, I was assigned to wait on
customers, maintain cleanliness of the food area and cook."
Better: "Acquired expertise in customer service, food area
maintenance and fast-food cooking."
- Use power verbs. Enliven
your resume with action words that tell the reader what you did and
how well you did it. They show that things happened when you were
around. Instead of writing, "I learned to use Excel, " say,
"Assisted chief accountant in drafting worksheets using Excel,
cutting work from six hours to three."
According to Mr Cecilia, a well-written resume should have the following
elements in the given order:
- Job objective, to
immediately tell the recruiter whether he has a match between the
applicant and the job opening. Mr Cecilia cites as good examples of
job objectives:"Managerial or supervisory position in the
manufacturing division of a large petroleum company."
"Professional or technical position in a laboratory of a large
pharmaceutical multinational company."
- Relevant experience and
skills, in lieu of work background, highlighting your scholastic
achievements or job stints while in school.
- Education and training,
providing an overview of your general educational background.
"Be sure this is properly highlighted by listing down in reverse
order all the degrees you received," Mr Cecilia says. "You
may limit your list up to your high school diploma. Enumerate the
schools, the degree and the exclusive years you were in school and
your scholastic honors, if any."
- Personal background, revealing
only personal information that has bearing on the job. Says Mr
Cecilia. "You need not state present salary or salary desired,
age, sex, marital status, health and hobbies. Leave a little something
for the interviewer to ask when you are called for an interview."
- References, with
"Available upon request" normally sufficing "The
recruitment officer knows that you will list down names that are very
partial to you and will probably not bother calling them. But they do
their own background information and believe me, they have a way of
getting the right information," Mr Cecilia adds.
what it all boils down to is believing in yourself. If you downplay
yourself because you think all you've got is your degree, then others will
too. Think you have got what it takes, and you'll rise to the occasion.