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Job application - cover letter, resumé and interviews skills

 

Cover Letter

Your cover letter is your initial sales pitch to succinctly state that you have what it takes to do the job.

What should I include in a cover letter?

Your cover letter should address specifically what you can offer in the form of knowledge, character, skills, ability or experience relevant to the job. It is about convincing the employer that you are a good fit for the job.

How do I get my cover letter noticed ?

Your cover letter will not stand out unless you highlight clearly two or three reasons why you are different from the rest. These two or three reasons should be attractive enough for the HR officer to decide to look at your resume. They are looking for the answer to "Why should we hire you?". Do not be tempted to write too much in your cover letter. Keep it simple with three or four short paragraphs. Keep your sentences short and concise. Emphasise relevant work or personal experience. You can also include polytechnic projects or assignments that are relevant to the job applied. Do not forget to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Finally, do include your mailing address, email address and contact numbers.

Resumé

The sole purpose of a resumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV) is to show the reader what you are capable of. It should be a concise write-up of your personal details, background and capabilities. Most employers will skim through all the CVs and put aside only five to ten that might be worth reading. On the average, an employer will only spend around one to three minutes on each CV. In other words your CV has to stand out from the others.

This does not mean that the CV should be full of graphics, colours or printed on colour paper. Some employers may feel that if you have to use gimmicks to impress them, then you probably do not have anything to offer. A good CV should look neat, professional, and be easy to read.

What makes a good resumé?

Your resumé should include details such as:

  • Your name, address, and phone/pager/hand phone number(s)
  • A career objective statement
  • Qualification details
  • Employment history (on the job training, holiday jobs, part time jobs,)
  • Key skills and competencies summary (relevant and specific polytechnic projects or assignments)
  • For males, your NS records and details
  • Knowledge of languages
  • Awards and Scholarships
  • Special accomplishments
  • References
  • Expected Salary

How should I write my resumé?

  • Use action verbs and phrases in your resumé
    • We suggest that you use action verbs and phrases when describing yourself and your work. Action verbs create the perception that you are a go-getter and someone who gets things done. For example: Developed and implemented an e-commerce website for my company within three months.
  • Prioritise and highlight your relevant key skills and competencies
    • Prioritise and highlight clearly in your resume, your key skills and competencies that are relevant to the job and support with actual achievements. For instance, if one of your key skills is web designing, highlight one or more web designing projects/assignments that you had undertaken.
  • Avoid being long winded
    • Your resumé should not be too long winded and should be succinctly written in not more than three pages.
  • Appearance counts
    • Create a resumé that is easy to read with a layout that is neat and tidy. Do not use a font size or font type that is difficult to read.
  • Be truthful
    • It would be wise to stick to the facts that you can back up with evidence. Do not state skills or competencies that you do not have.
  • Interview skills
    • Preparing for job interviews is probably the most important aspect. Do this right and you will breeze through it, go unprepared and you will fail miserably. Preparing for a job interview means getting your mind right and feeling confident. You have to show that you are the best person for the job.
       
    • Firstly do some research on the company and its products, know who their customers are and what the company's objective is. Once you have this information, then make a list of the skills and knowledge which you possess that are valuable to the employer. You cannot "sell" yourself if you do not know the "product" you are selling well.
       
    • The next thing to do is to take note of your physical appearance. You need to dress appropriately for the job interviews. Do not wear anything too flashy. Neatness and appearing well-groomed is very important. The aim is to look professional without overdoing it.
       
    • Work out what you need to take with you. A copy of your CV, originals (and copies) of your qualification papers, copies of references, samples of your work (if applicable) and anything else that the employer may want to see. Make sure everything is well organized and neatly presented. Do not take a pile of paperwork that you have to sift through during the interview. That will give the employer the impression that you are disorganised.
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