A resume and interview workshop organized by City Harvest’s Emerge committee yielded useful tips for landing that job.
The task of writing one’s resume and preparing for job interviews are necessary pains of life when one enters the working work or seeks a career change. The question to ask, therefore, is not how to escape from doing it but how to make the effort count?
In answer to this, City Harvest Church’s Emerge youth movement committee organized two workshops, “Relevant Resumes : Write to Impress!” and “Interview Skills” at the Bible Society of Singapore on Mar 2 and Mar 9 respectively. Both workshops were free-of-charge and conducted by Melvin Liew, a vice president at a regional corporate bank with 10 years’ experience in sales, project management and corporate development in the technology industry.
“Rehearse likely questions such as ‘Tell me about yourself’; prepare some life anecdotes that can create a personal connection with the interviewer,” advised Liew.
“Don’t underestimate the value of small talk,” he added, eliciting laughter as he described how situations can turn awkward when there is no “filler” conversation. Even engaging in seemingly banal conversation such as good lunch places in the area is better than dead silence when walking to the lift lobby after the interview, for example.
Conveying interest and enthusiasm is another commonly overlooked aspect during an interview session. In reply to a question from a member in the audience concerned that she would be regarded as “brown-nosing” the recruiter, Liew replied that the key was to be prepared, instead of conveying empty enthusiasm.
Interest, in turn, is conveyed when one asks questions—do research on the company through its website, read its annual reports, talk to friends who work at the company, ask the secretary who the interviewer will be and what specific tasks his department is responsible for.
Liew highlighted salient points to keep in mind during various interview formats: for in-person interviews, one needs to maintain the right body language and beware of jabber walkers, the latter of which also applies in phone interviews, whereas meal interviews aim to ascertain a candidate’s social etiquette, while case/ scenario based-interviews evaluate a candidate’s reasoning and analytical skills.
The workshop also included a Q&A session featuring a panel including Tan Kuan Ern, managing director of Credit Suisse Investment Banking (Head of Singapore coverage), Ho Su-mei, a former Public Service Commission scholar now working with The Singapore Administrative Service specializing in strategy development as well as finance and policy formulation and Shridar Jayakumar, director of business analytics at Oracle, who has under his belt more than 10 years’ experience in consulting and performance management.
“As far as that first job is concerned, many people don’t know what they want to do even after they graduate. If you can find something you love immediately, that’s excellent but don’t just go for the ‘perfect’ job with the perfect location, the perfect work hours … just put yourself out there and have an open mind,” shared Jayakumar, whose own career trajectory had been shaped by chance encounters with different people.
Addressing a common concern among youth about how the branding of their education institution affects the attractiveness of their resume, Ho advised, “Education may get you through the door but it is the skills a person has picked up on the job that will count for a lot more, the further you progress in your career.”
With regards to resume writing, brevity is an important attribute of a reader-friendly resume—the recommended length being one page for a student or a fresh graduate, and two pages for mid-career job seekers. In a survey carried out by local job portal JobsCentral done from August to September 2012, one of the pet peeves among hiring managers and human resource personnel in Singapore is lengthy resumes.
However, there is no hard-and-fast rule; the key idea seems to be relevance to the requirements of the job opening. “The examples given were very practical. I learned what went wrong in my resume and took out the irrelevant parts. My friend who came tried out the resume format given and just this week, a company already contacted her!” said business development executive Viryana, 24.
The 60-odd participants, comprising mostly graduating students and job-changers, found the sessions informative and helpful. “I like the workshop as it was very interactive and very personal. Many points were brought up and one which I found very useful was when the speaker pointed out possible questions asked during an interview. This will help me be better prepared for an interview as I now know how to do my research before an interview,” said 18-year-old Jeremy Peh Kai Sheng, a Business Information Technology student from Temasek Polytechnic.
Another participant, Shane Teo, 25, a trainer, added, “I found the information given during the workshop very valuable; it was a privilege to be here. The speaker had a lot of industrial knowledge and experience and this added a lot of depth to what was being taught.”