Many times in life, we need to introduce ourselves to others. And most of us are lost for words. Thus, it is always wise to prepare and get oneself ready for anything that might happen in the near future. Especially if you are applying for a job…
Welcome to today’s resume writing and interview skills workshop for Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Designed specially for the final year students of the School of Health Sciences (who will be graduating with a Diploma in Nursing), it was gratifying to see the 297 students come back on a Saturday to spend half the day with me and my other trainers.
I regard resume writing, cover letter drafting and interview skills preparation as akin to the trinity of body, mind and soul. You cannot have one with the other two. In fact, they are inter-connected.
In order to snare that dream job you have been eyeing for, you need to first get your prospective employer excited about you. There is no other way than present your best side in a cover letter enclosed with your resume.
The Cover Letter: Be Brief Yet Concise
The beauty of the cover letter is in its brevity. Yet, as brief as it appears (as it’s normally only one page long), you need to be concise and showcase your attributes to interest the employer enough to want to read your resume next. Conciseness is a virtue I cannot over-emphasise as people nowadays have short attention spans. The same applies to HR people. Imagine having to look through so many cover letters applying for the same job!
The Resume: Your Chronological Report Card
It is an open secret that your dream job will often also be someone else’s dream job. This is often the case in a labour-tight market where certain occupations are highly sought after. And its name suggests, a resume is a record card of who you are and what you represent.
Of all the resume types, I like the chronological format the best as it gives me a quick insight into your latest achievements (and/or happenings) and then guides me down the passage of time to your earlier formative years.
I am very proud of the students who came prepared with their drafts, wanting me to help them improve on the presentation, layout and language. Kudos! How often do you get such inspired students? And for the record, this is possibly the only workshop I have conducted so far with a laptop in front of every student…
The Interview: You Need to Prepare
Give yourself a pat on the back if your cover letter and resume get you to the interview room…because you are one step away from that dream job.
No one goes to war without preparing both physically and mentally. And some may add emotionally as well. The same logic applies to the interview.
If you do not prepare, you will fail…miserably. Interviews come in many shapes and forms – the most intimidating one being the panel interview. I used to be a panel interviewer for three years for my ex-organisation so I know how daunting it can be when you see at least three pairs of eyes fixated on you.
Preparation is the key to success. And the more prepared you are, the better you will be in answering the questions asked with finesse. No one asks you to rattle off memorized answers. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and sharing your own experience. Just be natural and think of the possible questions that may be asked.
Let me give you one sample – “what do you consider as your greatest strength?” As Asians, many of us are shy to talk about ourselves. We clam up. Yet at an interview, you cannot afford to clam up. Rather, you have to make use of this only opportunity to shine and impress.
As the saying goes, you need to impress at first sight. And for the Ngee Ann Poly students today, I know with confidence they will be able to rise above all challenges 🙂