THE primary objective of a resumé is to convince the prospective employer that you are suitable for the job.

As you will never get a second chance to make a first impression, do not be modest about your qualifications, skills and abilities when writing your resumé. But do get your facts right.

Say the right things

If you are a fresh graduate, provide examples that demonstrate your practical skills. For example, mention that you were a school prefect, a member of the sports team or a contributor to the school's publications, or you did community work and organised events.

List your accomplishments instead of describing your duties. For instance, say that you "organised a marketing campaign", "saved $100,000", "designed a better system" or "created a community programme".

Include examples in the "Interests/hobbies" section to show that you possess skills that match the job criteria. If the advertisement wants someone who has worked in a large team, you can illustrate by indicating past experiences. For instance, you belong to a local organisation or a sports team.

Things you should know

In some countries, employers are not allowed to request certain information from candidates as it may be deemed as discriminatory.

However, there are employers who do require such information. For example, you do not need to include your date of birth but it may be necessary to give your age, marital status and nationality.

In some cases, if you are applying for a job abroad, you may wish to include an honorific (Mr/Ms) because some foreign employers may have difficulty in identifying your gender, as they may be unfamiliar with Asian names.

Another common dilemma faced is whether you should attach character references or not. This is not necessary unless the job advertisement specifies so.

You need not attach copies of your educational or any other professional certificates, unless the employer asks for it.

Read the advertisement carefully. Omitting details tells the hiring manager that you are careless and cannot follow instructions.

Keep your resumé to no more than two A4 pages and customise it to every job you apply for.

The final details

* Proofreading

Proofread your resumé or have someone edit it for you. Many resumés are rejected because of poor grammar and vocabulary.

Mistakes such as forgetting to change the company name in the cover letter from previous applications can cost you your chance.

* Presentation

This is a matter of personal choice. If you are enclosing certificates, it may make sense not to fold a thick wad of paper. Instead, send it out in an A4-sized envelope and check that the postage is adequate too.

Stay updated

Your resumé should be up-to-date and ready should a potential employer requests for it. Updating your resumé every three to six months is one way to review your career and ensure that your credentials are relevant to your current and potential employers.

Dos and don'ts
Do:

* Include a recent and presentable passport-sized photo;

* Keep your descriptions short and precise;

* Use action and achievement words;

* Attach a cover letter;

* Make it easy for the prospective employer to reach you;

* Start with your current or most recent job; and

* Personalise your resumé to suit the application.

Don't:

* Send more than one application for the same job in the hope that it will be noticed. This may garner you negative attention;

* Use fancy, perfumed or coloured paper;

* Exclude the name of your current/previous employer/s (company name);

* Use correction fluid to hide mistakes. It looks sloppy and unprofessional;

* Send out poor or unclear photocopies; and

* Exceed two A4 pages.