It is a job-application jungle out there, and for the first time since June 2012, there were more seekers than openings.

The Ministry of Manpower's labour market statistics for Q2 2016 show that the rise in unemployment hit resident degree-holders the hardest.

Their unemployment rate rose to 4.3 per cent in June from 3.5 per cent over the same period last year - the highest level since 2009.

Employers in Singapore are more cautious about hiring too.

Figures from the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey bear this out.

Of the 646 companies polled, nearly three in four say they do not plan to increase headcount between October and December.

Recent graduates find themselves in a catch-22 situation.

They have scant work experience to talk about in their resume, yet they must write one that stands out.

Professional resume writer Lene Øveland Berge says: "The most important function of your resume is to let the readers get a sense of who you are, what you have to offer the company, and how you will complement the other staff members."

Berge, a Right Management consultant in Norway and author of Uncover. Position. Thrive: Your Guide To Job Search & Career Growth, offers tips to make your resume pop.

1. Lead with the most important facts

Hiring managers spend about six seconds scanning a resume.

That's all the time you have to make an excellent impression.

Present your most important information that fits the requirements of the position first.

Add the unusual skills and abilities to help differentiate you from your peers.

2. Use keywords

Resumes today should be optimised for search engines while also written to appeal to the people who will read and evaluate them, says Berge.

Craft your resume to find the right balance between reader friendliness and keyword optimisation.

Every position has "niche words" which are terms specific to that specific role.

Niche words are likely scattered throughout the job advertisement.

Undecided over what the key words are? Copy and paste the job advertisement text into a tool such as

The words that appear the largest in the word cloud are your keywords so make sure you have them in your resume.

3. Junk the jargon

Human-resource staff members are often the first people to review your resume.

They may not be familiar with jargon in the area of study that you major in.

They may also not be an expert on the position you are applying for.

Avoid unnecessary abbreviations and internal jargon that people outside your field may not understand.

If you leave it to the reader to interpret what you mean, it will create frustration, increasing the chances of your resume being tossed aside.

Check your spelling a dozen times if you have to. Typos may also land your resume in the trash heap.

Ensure that your resume is reader-friendly. Write in plain language.

The onus is on you to craft a resume that a hiring manager can quickly size up - and be keen enough to call or e-mail you for an interview.

4. Tweak the presentation

Use the design and formatting tools in MS Word, such as charts, bullet points, bold text and colour (though don't go overboard with the colours of the rainbow).

Use two font styles - one for headings and the other for regular text.

These devices increase readability and make important information stand out.

Apart from these essentials, customise each resume to the job you are applying for.

No hiring manager likes reading a resume that is an obvious cut-and-paste template.

Or, even worse, a document that carries the name of a company you had previously applied to.

Before you initiate a job search, be clear about the roles that you are interested in.

The clearer you are on what job you want to do and who you want to do it for, the more effective your resume will be.

Analyse advertisements for positions of interest and talk to recruiters who specialise in the type of role and industry in which you are interested.

This may help you to better understand the competencies and qualifications that are most in demand.

This article was contributed by Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.

Leave these out

It may seem obvious, but remember to exclude irrelevant information from your resume.

Here are some examples.

Personal details: Height, weight, favourite colour and name of dog. Seriously?

Affiliations: Political and religious inclinations. Leave these for your coffee-shop talk.

False information: If hyperboles will not do, falsifying information is certainly out of the question.

Salary expectations: It is too early in your job journey to disclose this.

Photograph: Modern resumes do not need a mug shot.

-This article was contributed by Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.


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