Common Singapore resume mistakes – Lessons from the JobsCentral Career Fair

Sandbox Advisors was recently invited to setup a Singapore resume review booth, at the JobsCentral Career Fair.

Over the two days we reviewed hundreds of resumes and in this article we will address some of the mistakes that appeared in the many of them. 

‘Resume’ written at the top of the document

There is no need for this. It is understood that it is a resume and adding ‘Resume’ as the title for the document does nothing more than waste space.

Too much personal information

The personal details you include in your resume should be kept to a minimum. This should include your name (obviously) and contact details (mailing address, phone number and email). You might also include some personal information, which is asked for in the job advertisement. However, there is no need to include information like your father’s name, number of children you have, sex, religion and so on. Keep the information relevant and useful. In many resumes we came across, there was a personal profile section which covered half or even the entire first page. Remember that the first half of the page is ‘prime resume real estate’ and should be used to provide the most important information that will help you get called for the interview. Personal information will not get you the interview.

Poor design and formatting

Clearly not enough attention was paid to design elements. A resume which looks good, has more chances of catching a recruiter’s attention. So we would recommend paying as much attention to design as to the actual content. Search the internet for some resume samples and use some of the good ones for inspiration/cues.

Very long resumes

There were many resumes which exceeded 5 pages in length. That is too long and there is no way a recruiter will go through the whole document. We recommend sticking to 1-3 pages, unless you are a very senior executive. If you include only relevant content in your resume, keeping it to this length should not be a problem at all.

Too much focus on job duties/responsibilities

Almost every resume described previous work experience by providing a whole list of job duties/responsibilities. It is important to remember that there will be many people who have held similar jobs as yours. All of these people will have similar responsibilities and therefore how will a recruiter pick you over the others? You need to provide them information about how well you performed those responsibilities, or in other words – What were your achievements? We recommend around a 70-30 split i.e. 70% should be about your results/achievements and 30% should be about your job responsibilities.

The use of generic resumes

It is not advisable to use the same resume for all positions you apply to. To increase the chances of success your Singapore resume must be customised for the sector/job you are applying to. The more relevant information you provide, the easier it will be to convince the recruiter that you are the best person for the job.

Provision of expected salary

This point is a bit contentious because many job advertisements specifically ask for salary information. Our point of view is that salary is something that will be used to reject you but not to select you. So if you do not provide your expected salary and you are a competitive candidate, then you will still get called for the interview. Salary is often used to quickly weed out candidates and if you provide a salary that is not within the expected range, then your resume might reach the reject pile without even being looked over. Also, you do not want to sell yourself short by providing a salary which is (much) lower than what the company has in mind. One solution is to provide a broad salary range.

‘References available upon request’

There is no need to write this in your Singapore resume. It does nothing to differentiate you from other candidates and the employer knows that if they request for references, you will provide them.