How to write a resume with nothing to write about
By Engine Room Posted 7mth(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes
Hurrah, hurrah, student life is ovah. After years of tanking four-hour lectures, overusing Cramer’s rule, binge-watching Big Bang Theory and being the campus’ unofficial Wi-Fi fixer, the end is finally here. School is out and your future is as bright as Sheldon’s forehead.
Or at least that’s what we once thought until we sat down at our trusty PC, ready to slay em’ job applications. But alas, the days of solving problematic equations are far from gone. To get a job you need experience, and to get the experience you need a job. So how now? #ded
Well boys and girls, if you’re caught in this catch 22 and looking for a way out, you’ve come to the right place because we have engineered the perfect solution. Oh yes, you’re very welcome.
#1 Start with your story
The average recruiter spends six seconds reviewing every resume. Shocking right? Less shocking is that a hundred other coursemates are likely eyeing the same job, and getting noticed means stepping up your game. To have your resume stand out, there needs to be a show of effort, and step one to doing so is a customised cover letter - a single-page note to introduce yourself in a meaningful and memorable way. Think of it as an elevator pitch, but in written form. Is it gonna be more work? Yes. But is it worth it? Double yes.
The first thing to note is that a cover letter is not a summary of your resume. If your resume conveys the facts, your cover letter showcases your fire. You can choose to share your cover letter in a different document, in the body of your email to the recruiter, or simply at the top of your resume.
Your cover is the opportunity to tell your story. Pick one or two key experiences in your resume and expand on it to paint a fuller picture of your capabilities, and show why you are perfect for the job. For example, if you were a key team player in a successful final year project, think about what your role was, what approaches you took to distinguish your project from others, and what skills you exercised to make that come true. Then, put these thoughts into short and sweet paragraphs to give the hiring manager some insight into what you do best, and show a little of your passion and motivation as well. Don’t forget to wrap up with a line expressing enthusiasm for a potential interview opportunity too!
#2 Enter your education
In lieu of work experience, start your resume by focusing on what you do have - your education and achievements. And here comes the question on everyone’s mind - is it a must to include your GPA, especially if you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped?
The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule and the reason academic standings are commonly listed is that it serves as one of the few things that give hiring managers an indicator of future job performance, particularly where a candidate has little to no experience. So, if you have done well, putting that score down is definitely lit. But even if you’re far from the honour roll, don’t be ashamed of including your grades. Highlight what you're good at and the modules or subjects that you excelled in. Use your resume to showcase what your education has equipped you with and what skills you possess that will help contribute towards the organisation’s operations.
Your education can also be a way to showcase your personality. Show how you’re vibin’ by highlighting relevant electives and co-curricular activities. For example, call out your involvement in the faculty’s annual robotics competition in your application to a mechatronics firm, and underline the coding module you took if you’re shooting for a systems engineer role.
#3 Internships, internships, internships
Having some industry experience, no matter how brief, kinda works as a secret weapon. No cap. This is especially true for the field of engineering, where so much of the work is hands-on. Knowing that you’re able to operate a CNC machine comfortably or draw up a technical report with ease goes a long way in assuring your future employer that you’re able to hit the ground running. So think back to your internship and put together a shortlist of key tasks and projects that you were a part of, the skills that you gained with it, and why this potential relationship is #worthit.
#4 Spotlight your soft skills
While hard skills speak to your ability to perform well at the job, highly transferable soft skills are what will give you extra points. Why? Because according to hiring managers, technical skills can quickly be taught on the work floor, but nurturing soft skills is a long game and often a challenging one at that.
Even without much industry experience, you would have worked on tons of group-based projects, all of which would have revealed to you some of your best traits. Now is the time to spotlight them, using key events or activities to let these characteristics shine through. For example, were you the team leader of an overseas community involvement programme and did you exercise critical thinking and problem solving to help your peers navigate through challenging situations? Or were you logistics head of the school of engineering’s freshmen orientation camp and did that test your ability to be resourceful? Use your stories and your experiences to put yourself in the best light possible.
And so you see - no experience, no problem. More often than not, getting a job depends more on how good a fit you are for the role rather than how well you did in school. Trust that the journey you’ve been on will prepare you for the road ahead. Look at what you have and pick out the very best parts to show your future employer that you have what it takes to add value to their work. So, let’s go get this bread.