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Given the competitiveness in college admissions and the job market, many candidates will have identical scores on exams like SAT, IB, CFA etc. An impressive résumé might just be the difference maker. We will discuss the main features of a good résumé and the five points – SCORE – will do the job.
Difference between résumé and curriculum vitae (CV):
These two terms are mentioned together so often that many people in Hong Kong have gradually assumed that a CV and a résumé refer to the same thing. In reality, although they are similar, a résumé summarizes your key accomplishments in one page whereas a CV is a more detailed chronological profile that can be longer than 2 pages. For this blog entry, we will write mainly about a résumé but the key concepts SCORE can also be applied onto a CV.
A résumé is a good way to show others how eloquently you can express yourself. By being specific, you are able to back up your points with real names and concrete examples that exist which makes your résumé far more convincing. Consider the following example. Under job experience, candidate A wrote ‘worked at a bank over the summer’ while B wrote ‘studied the prices of different bonds at the Department of Wealth Management in HSBC‘. Undoubtedly, B would impress readers a lot more.
Just because we want to be specific does not mean we have to write long paragraphs to explain what you did on your résumé. Instead, the goal is to be very detailed using as few words as possible. One way to do is to describe what you did in point form. Here is an example:
Community Service at Hong Kong Red Cross:
– Assisted in blood transfusion services
– Led a group of ten students on the International Service Leadership Program
– Raised funds for disaster relief projects
By listing out what you did in points, it is more comprehensible. Remember, résumés should not be over a page because employers/admissions officers will only spend a few minutes on your résumé and you would want them to read most (if not all) of your achievements.
To make your résumé an enjoyable read, you need to make sure information is presented in a systematic way. Your résumé should be organized with different categories, namely Education Background, Community Service, Work Experience and maybe Awards. Besides, as seen from the above Red Cross example, consistency helps too. The first word of each point (in this case, assisted, led, raised) should be in the same form, i.e. these first words should be either nouns, gerunds or verbs in the same tense.
Once again, we stress that you will only get several minutes of attention from readers. The information you put on a résumé should therefore be able to reflect your abilities and strengths. If you are applying to universities, writing about a leadership program you joined 5 summers ago or a singing contest you won in primary school does not show who you are anymore. Instead, as readers go over your résumé, they will ask questions like ‘what have you done in recent years?’, ‘have you not done anything meaningful recently that you have to resort to including something that is unrelated to this application?’ Relevance is crucial to writing a good résumé. Make sure you ONLY list events or achievements that matter.
Very often, employers only offer interviews to candidates who submit impressive applications which include their résumés. In other words, your résumé is actually your first chance to ‘speak’ to the readers so it is a good idea to sound enthusiastic. As mentioned above, the first word of each bullet point should be consistent, preferably in verb form using the same tense. These verbs can help a lot if you opt to use ‘action verbs’ which really illustrate what you are doing. Look at the following example:
Candidate A: ‘Participated in a leadership camp; Helped the elderly’
Candidate B: ‘Planted seeds with farmers at a leadership camp; Counseled the elderly who suffered from depression’
Notice how verbs like ‘participated’, ‘helped’, ‘joined’ do not really tell readers anything whereas action verbs like ‘planted’, ‘counseled’ paint a clear picture of what you did. Because of that, Candidate B has the superior résumé.
With SCORE, your résumé shall be impressive and it will give you a big advantage over your peers!