Think twice before including this on your resume - because nobody cares

Reading people's resumes is a bit like browsing their Facebook profiles - you see how they want the world to see them.

Just as you might find those Facebook updates about your friend's running routes (complete with screenshots from the Nike+ app) or his kid's many playground adventures boring and unnecessary, so too are there many things people include on their resumes that nobody gives a crap about.

As much as you might want potential employers to know your entire life story, from the moment you scored 4 A*s in the PSLE to the time you organised your previous employer's Christmas party, they don't care about what a special snowflake you are - they just want to know that you can do the job well and be someone others can work with.

Unless you're a fresh grad whose resume is as empty as a crisp white Kleenex, you might want to think twice before including the following information.

Top 3 reasons Singaporean employers reject job applicants

  • No matter how much you try to display your "leadership skills" by listing the 50 CCAs you participated in at school or mention every grade you've received since the PSLE, once you show up and answer "no" when they ask you if you have the necessary experience, you'll be out there faster than you can say "but I got straight As in the O levels!"
  • "Sometimes you can't really tell from the resume, since the info is brief," says Eunice. In addition, many candidates don't give a detailed breakdown of their experience on their resumes.

    The problem is that many local employers are looking for candidates with very specific skill sets.

  • What you can do: Make your search as targeted as possible instead of applying for any job that has what might be described as a vague connection to your field of experience.
  • According to Eunice, many employers complain about interviewees' characters not being in sync with the company culture.
  • If you were interviewing for a job that would pay you millions to watch movies or sleep, you wouldn't be entering the room with that quivering, hesitant smile or asking about work-life balance two seconds into the interview now, would you?
  • What you can do: You need to get yourself in a positive frame of mind before going for an interview.

    No matter how much you try to brainwash yourself into saying the right things, if you're feeling low when you step in, interviewers will sense it.

  • Like it or not, there are probably lots of candidates willing to do the same job for less. In addition, SMEs in Singapore tend to be very cost-sensitive.
  • So unless you have something really good to bring to the table, few employers are willing to pay more than the market rate.
  • But doing your research and knowing exactly what the market rate is, not just in your industry but also in companies comparable to the one you're interviewing at, is key.
  • What you can do: Lots of people get nervous when the interviewer starts talking about money.

    There's no need to be. Before you show up, fix in your mind the minimum salary you're willing to accept, and the salary you think you're actually worth

National Service

There's a lot of contention over whether information about National Service should be included.

According to Eunice Tan, managing consultant at recruitment firm Jade Clover, there are certain people who should indeed include NS on their resumes.

"Fresh grads or candidates without much experience might want to include NS, mainly to fill in the gaps. Otherwise employers might wonder what they have been doing for two years," she says.

"Besides these people, there are some others whose vocations are relevant to the jobs they're applying for. These people can mention their NS vocations on their resumes".

But what happens if you're not a fresh grad, and your NS vocation has nothing to do with what you're doing now?

Most local employers seem to think it's unnecessary to mention NS - they already know that every Singaporean male has to do NS, and chances are they've done it themselves, too.

One exception is if you're applying for a job overseas.

Military service tends to be looked upon favourably overseas, so go ahead and tell them about it.

Basic computer skills and word processing

Yes, we know Microsoft's resume templates include a section for computer skills or word processing.

But seriously, in Singapore it's assumed that anyone under the age of 50 with half a brain is competent in word processing and basic Microsoft Office applications.

Saying you know how to turn on a computer and start up Microsoft Word is not only redundant, but highlights the fact that that's all you know how to do.

Why not just include information on your ability to breathe and poop, too?

You only want to mention computer skills if you can do something that most ordinary people can't, such as run Microsoft Excel applications or code.

Pre-tertiary education

If you have a university degree, poly diploma, NITEC cert or similar, there's really no need to talk about your previous educational qualifications like the N/O/A levels or, worse, the PSLE.

That's not to say that employers won't care - fresh grads do sometimes get asked to furnish copies of their N/O/A level certs.

But unless you're a fresh grad with zero work experience, pre-tertiary education is pretty much redundant and can be removed.

While you might think your employers would be impressed with your PSLE score of 280, it might make them ask why such a high achiever is now interviewing for a job at their company and not out saving the world.

Too much info about your CCAs

Fresh grads may be excused for including the salacious details about their CCA involvement, from the school colours they were awarded for their performances in the choir to that school funfair they organised.

And it is true that for entry level positions, truly impressive CCA performance (like, uh, swimming in the Olympics or being the captain of the national tennis team) can make your application stand out.

But once you've passed a certain age and have garnered some work experience, including info about your CCAs ten years ago just makes you seem tired and lame, as if you've done nothing else worthwhile with your life in the time in between.

The article first appeared on MoneySmart. is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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