Getting your foot in the door

by | December 29, 2009

A resume is vitally important and it is what will get you your first interview. Find out how to do it right.

BY: Eleanor Yap


“A resume is not an autobiography. It gets your foot in the door for an interview,” explained Kristen Lee, senior staffing consultant from P-Serv, a Kelly Services Company, during a talk at the “U Live The Good Life” carnival. With seniors considering going back to work, doing up a proper resume is key.

The first thing you need to do is do a background check of the company you want to work with. Understand what the employer is looking for and have clear objectives on your resume. Next, you will need to choose a suitable format and each has its pros and cons:


• Chronological resume template – This is when you put your most recent work experience first followed by past experience. This format is suitable for job seekers with solid experience and a logical job history, and for career changers and those who lack formal on-the-job experience (like new graduates) and who find writing a resume difficult.

• Functional resume template – This is when your employment history is lumped together at the bottom. This template concentrates more on skills, achievements and capabilities. This type is suitable for those with very diverse experiences and career-changers who wish to enter a field very different from what their previous experience points to. Those with gaps in their work history, such as homemakers who took time to raise and family and now wish to return to the workplace, will find this template ideal for them.

• Combination resume template – This template uses both chronological and functional. This template is suitable for those who wish to include volunteer or internship experiences, and had a varied employment history.


Your checklist


  1. Keep it short and precise in bullet form.
  2. Neat and organised headers.
  3. Use PC-based Word Editor (MS Word).
  4. Put a recent and presentable photo such as an IC photo.
  5. Be easily contactable.
  6. Attach a one-page cover letter.
  7. Spell check and proofread your resume – get someone to read it too and keep in mind the dictionary is US or British.
  8. Include references and your salary expectation.



  1. Send more than one application such as sending more in hopes that it would mean you would get the job (this is not a lucky draw) or applying for every job in the company.
  2. Write in block letters.
  3. Leave out contact details.
  4. Leave gaps in your experience details.
  5. Use fanciful fonts – stick to conventional Times New Roman or Arial fonts. 
  6. Use font size lower than size 11.
  7. Use fancy, perfumed or paper with loud colours.
  8. Use inappropriate e-mail address – make sure it is an e-mail address that had your name.
  9. Use a generic cover letter for different types of job applications.


Additional thoughts

Also, do not bluff your way through as your references are checked at times. And remember to update your resume every six months such as added responsibilities and achievements.

And if your resume does give you that foot in the door, you proceed to the interview stage or “the first date with your prospective life partner”. Here are eight tips:


    1 )    Don’t be late – give a 15-minute buffer.
    2 )    Know your ‘date’ – always be prepared, understand what the employer is looking for and the background.
    3 )    Look good, smell good and feel good – don’t smoke before your interview.
    4 )    Make a good and lasting impression – smile with a firm handshake. The first eye contact should be at the forehead of the interviewer and nose area. 
    5 )    Dos for the conversation:

    • Be honest, be yourself.
    • Confident.
    • Alert – take note of the intentional stress introduction by the interviewer. E.g. how confident are you in carrying out the work scopes? How do you think you can fit in this new working environment?
    • Say genuine compliments about the company and the interview process.
    • Share relevant work experience.
    • Greet, smile and say thanks.

    6 )    Don’t in the conversation:

    • Fidget unnecessarily.
    • Brag about who you know such as important connections.
    • Do not criticise or bad-mouth past employers or colleagues.
    • Do not ask about salary and benefits at the start of the interview.
    • Do not sit until the interviewer offers you a chair or seats him or herself first.
    • Do not pretend to know when you do not know. Don’t bluff your way through.

    7 )    Essential follow-up – show sincerity and consider sending a thank-you note or e-mail as a last chance to impress.
    8 )    Accept gracefully be it a yes or no outcome. Also, don’t negotiate further after accepting the offer such as location and more money.

Once you are in the company, continue to update yourself and work well with your colleagues, be it younger or older. It is all in the attitude. Work keeps your mind sharp and it allows you to do something productive rather than being at home. Enjoy the environment and make it work!




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