Graduating in 2015? Here are 3 Ways to Beef Up Your Resume the Right Way

By Joanne Poh

If you’re in the class of 2015, most of your peers are scrambling to send out resumes right about now. In fact, there are probably a few overachievers in your social circle who already secured full-time positions ages ago. If you’ve still scratching your head wondering how to make the “experience” section of you resume longer than the “CCA” section, here are 5 ways you can beef up your resume in 6 months.

Before we begin, here’s a caveat—instead of merrily building a cookie cutter resume, find out what your industry values in an employee first, so you know what to focus on. For instance, if you’re looking to become a stock trader, maintaining your own portfolio is going to score you major brownie points. On the other hand, if you’re looking to enter social work, volunteering can be a great way to gain experience.

1. Internships – more is not necessarily better

I’m sure you have at least a few crazy classmates who have gone completely overboard and done multiple internships every holiday since they were in secondary school. Thus, it’s not uncommon to find resumes from students who have 8 or 10 internships under their belt.

While doing multiple internships can help you to gain industry contacts and possibly a job offer if you’re savvy enough, the good news is that if you haven’t done any internships, you’re not doomed to selling tissue on the streets. Yet.

For resume-building purposes, one or two very relevant internships are enough to satisfy potential employers that you have gained some relevant industry experience. There’s no need to squeeze in four 2 week-long internships into one holiday.

And while taking on multiple internships in different fields can be useful if you’re not yet sure what you want out of a career, it does little to impress employers.

Tips: If you’re about to graduate and haven’t already done so, do one relevant internship lasting at least a month in the industry of your choice. The closer it is to what you actually want to do when you graduate, the better.

When you’re interning, try to really get involved instead of just serving time until you can resume your holidays. Get to know the employees and your boss, and volunteer to help out with professional tasks instead of just making coffee and photocopying documents.

Finally, if you’re in your final semester at university and have yet to take on an internship, it’s not too late. Many employers are open to part-time interns who come in on certain days of the week or when they have no classes, although you shouldn’t expect to be paid.

2. Part-time jobs – more than just waiting tables

Sure, the only part-time jobs you might qualify for might involve sweeping floors and wiping down tables. But that doesn’t mean certain jobs can’t make your resume look more impressive than those of your peers.

Two super common part-time jobs for students include giving tuition and waiting tables. Neither will get you that far unless your career of choice is in education or F&B. But a part-time job in your industry, no matter how lowly, can be a great way for you to put a recognisable name on your resume.

A friend who works in business development at a ballet school started out teaching ballet during her university days. Another person spent a year bagging groceries at NTUC before finally getting a job in management at—you guessed it—NTUC.

Whatever you decide, having a part-time job generally sends out a positive message to employers that you’re not an entitled brat who’s afraid to work for a living.

Tips: Think of a part-time job as a gig that can get you a foothold in the kind of company you’d like to work for when you graduate, even if the position you snag isn’t exactly a glamorous one. Administrative or clerical work is one option that many companies offer.

3. Volunteering – industry experience for a good cause

Volunteering isn’t just about picking up litter at the beach or giving kids free tuition. It enables you to get some relevant experience without having to worry about job applications, since most organisations will be only too happy to let you help out.

Pick an organisation that resonates with you and brainstorm ways you can help out.

For instance, if you’re hoping to get a job as a web designer, you can offer to design a website for an organisation that does work you care about. Many charity organisations are urgently in need of web designers and writers who can create material and update their social media sites.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping to enter a very specific profession, your skills might not be so easily transferrable to most organisations.

In such cases, there might be organisations that cater to volunteers with your specific professional skills. For instance, budding lawyers can volunteer their services at pro bono sessions or even the state courts, while Engineers Without Borders runs both local and international programmes.

Tips: Volunteering is viewed more favourably if it’s a long-term relationship with an organisation, rather than a one-off thing like the voluntourism trips that are all the rage these days. Pick a cause that’s close to your heart and you might soon find that you end up volunteering in more areas than you initially intended.

This article was first published over at MoneySmart blog on 16 December 2014. It is reproduced with permission.

About The Author (Joanne Poh)

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.


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