How to Write a Career Objective

How to Write a Career Objective
If you must include an objective in your resume, make sure it’s not an afterthought-or a mere garnishing
that does nothing to increase your chances of landing that job.
"Shoot for the moon, and maybe land among the stars." This is the way most career objectives sound in
the resume of inexperienced job seekers. Vague. Uncertain. Aiming for everything and nothing. That is
why, some experts warn, "If you cannot say it clearly, don't say anything at all." Why is this problem so
For most of us, a career objective is something thrown in-almost as an afterthought-when cooking up a
resume. Something like a garnishing. An extra ingredient to spice things up. We think of it simply as an
optional blank field we may choose to fill up with standard words in a standard format. Or, worse, with
copied words from someone else's resume.
But if a career objective is just garnishing, as some people think it is, then why is it always placed on the
crucial first line of the resume? This is the first statement the recruiter reads, after your name and contact
numbers. Is that strategic placement just an accident? On the other hand, if this line is so important, then
why the cavalier treatment?
The One True Objective
This attitude-and the resulting vagueness-seems to come from the fact that most of us don't really know
what we mean by career objective. Reading between the lines of expert opinions, we begin to see that
they may really be talking about two different kinds of objectives:
1. A career objective for your life; and
2. A career objective for your resume
Come again? Focus those glazing eyes, and let's take a closer look.
The dictionary defines "career" as "a person's advancement through life, especially in a profession." Jobhunting guru Richard Nelson Bolles is probably one of the staunchest proponents of the idea that we
should aim for our one, true desire in life-and state that as our career objective. No two minds about it.
For him, that objective is the whole point of the job hunt.
"Forget what is available out there. Go after what you really want," he advises boldly in the best-selling,
annually updated book, What Color is your Parachute?
Does he differentiate between one's objective in life and the objective stated in the resume? Since Bolles
is one career expert who does not think that a resume is a necessity, a statement of career objective
specifically for a resume is not even a relevant issue to him.
In effect, he is saying that a resume is just an optional tool that a job seeker may choose not to use in the
hunting process. It seems that if he has his way, he will do away with it completely. Go, figure. Still, he
maintains that should a job hunter use one, he must make sure that he, the job seeker, "shines through"
all the words he puts in his resume.
In short, the resume should be tailored around the job hunter's career objective-his life objective-not the
other way around. "Don't be a job-beggar," he says. "Be a resource person." Developing one's career
objective in this vein is a hunter-driven process, which begins and ends with what the hunter is truly
Tailor-Fit Your Objective to Your Resume
On the other hand, other experts take off on the common and very practical perception that we have to
work with "what is available out there." What are the jobs on the market that a job hunter can apply for?
Which jobs can fit, more or less, with his general direction in life? Which jobs can help him, in a step-bystep way, move toward his life objective.
For these experts, having several versions of a resume with several versions of a career objective is a real
job-hunting necessity. Make sure that your career objectives will match the particular needs of the target
employer, they advise. Makes a lot of sense, right? You do want a job, pay those bills.
Hence, it is important to clearly identify the parameters that the job seeker can work around-certain
combinations of the following key elements, depending on what he wants to stress:
* The position (accounting, nursing)
* The field (publishing, computer technology)
* The hunter's marketable skills (human relations, mathematical abilities)
So as not to turn off those recruiters, heed these general guidelines for writing career objectives:
Be concise (but not so specific that you limit yourself too much).
Use verb phrases rather than sentences (Example: Seeking . . . rather than I seek).
Be sure the objective is compatible with the resume.
Demonstrate your value as a candidate and as an asset, not what you will get.
In short, it is a market-driven process of developing objectives. The main aim is to make a hit with at
least one of the available positions, in one of the open fields, with some of the hunters' marketable sets of
skills. The lay of the land is defined by what the employers offer and the hunter must fit his objective(s)
within this topography.
Assess Yourself
The trouble with most career objectives we read is that they wobble between these two kinds of
objectives, undecided. It is probably better for a job seeker to approach the job hunt one way or the
other, but not somewhere in between. That is the surest path to vagueness and awkwardness.
In any case, though the experts differ on many things, they seem to agree on one thing. Always start with
a comprehensive self-assessment. They are one in saying: Clarify your career objectives (whichever kind
they mean) by clarifying who you are.
So, let’s get to the crux of the matter. After you’ve carefully assessed yourself, specifically your strengths
and abilities, along with the tasks you have performed in previous jobs and how you intend to use them in
the next one, what do you do next?
The next logical step, of course, is to labor at phrasing your objective well, making sure it does not sound
“I-centered.” Consider this example: “A position as a sales engineer requiring superior skills in managing
and monitoring sales and promotions of equipment to clients.” Now, contrast this with: “A position as a
sales engineer, where I can enhance my skills in managing and monitoring sales and promotions of
equipment to clients and eventually advance to higher positions.” The difference between the two is
obvious: the first is targeted at meeting the prospective employer’s needs; the second emphasizes what
the job seeker hopes to gain from, not contribute to, the prospective employer.
Keep in mind that similar positions could vary from one company to another. Therefore, you would do well
to refrain from using job titles in career objectives. That way you don’t limit your chances of being
considered for the job that you want. This is not to say that very specific objectives have no use. If you
really want a job that requires very specific skills, then, by all means, make your objective specific-but not
limiting. This means your objective can apply to other jobs even if you must specify the skills that you
think make you the perfect fit for the job you’re applying for.
In the end, it is the job hunter's call what to aim for and how to state his or her career objective. Helpful
resources are everywhere, specifically on the Internet. And the market is out there for the hunting.
13 Tips to Writing the Right Resume
by Gibbs Cadiz
Coming up with a resume that makes jaded HR people sit up and take notice isn't as difficult as it sounds.
The trick is to make sure it's worthwhile reading anytime.
How to come up with a resume that works--now there's a dilemma shared by fresh graduates and working
stiffs alike. What exactly do you put in and leave out to convince the HR manager that you will be a wise
addition to their company ranks? It's a tough set of decisions to make, akin to those you make when
going on a blind date: You worry yourself sick over what to wear, what perfume to use, what to say to
make the other person like you.
Writing resumes is, after all, fundamentally a marketing act. It's a way to advertise yourself and stand out
in the marketplace crowd of similarly competent, qualified workers.
Forget about being modest. As career specialist J. Michael Farr, writing in the online magazine, says, “Your resume is no place to be humble.”
How then do you design yours so that it comes off not as a pompous recitation of accomplishments the
way a politician may do his, but as a compelling summary of your most attractive qualities?
Remember what your resume is not for: It's not meant to get you a job. Not yet, anyway. Its mission is to
get you a job interview--which would hopefully lead to a job offer. But think of that as a long-term goal.
First, your resume should be able to get your foot in the door by attracting the reader's attention enough
to wangle an invitation for that first big look-see.
HR practitioners thumb through countless resumes in the course of their work. How do you make yours so
fetching it warrants a face-to-face encounter?
Here's a 13–step guide to constructing a professional resume that gets your foot in that all-important
Gather your materials. Begin by putting everything down on paper--contact details, work history
and accomplishments, academic background, seminars attended, honors received, skills and
proficiencies, personal details, etc. Don't worry about organizing them at this point; just make sure
you don't leave out anything major, substantial, or relevant.
Pay particular attention to dates and places--say, periods of employment--as mistakes in these
areas may leave an impression of sloppiness, or worse, fudging on your part.
Start with your name and contact details. Your contact information should come right at the
top of the resume after your name for easy and convenient reference by the reader. Include all
possible contact details: postal address, landline and mobile phone numbers, fax numbers, and email address. The last one is particularly important, because in these tech-savvy times, an email
address shows that you are, at the very least, computer literate.
State a job objective. A well-developed job objective statement “can be a useful way of
demonstrating yourself to be a focused individual,” says, an online job
placement company. If you're responding to an advertisement, your job objective can be as simple
as the position title (e.g., “Finance Manager”).
But if you're aiming to keep your options open for other positions within a broad range of
expertise, you can write a more general description of the work and corporate environment you
want to focus on (e.g., “To apply my extensive experience in finance and administration to senior
management positions in a highly motivated, forward-looking multicultural company”).
Beware of generic objectives such as “employment in a position commensurate to my
qualifications” or “to secure a regular position.”
Write a brief summary of qualifications. Cynthia Buiza, an HR and corporate communications
officer at a Thailand-based NGO, says she appreciates resumes that provide upfront a concise
summary of the applicant's qualifications.
“I get the impression that the applicant knows his strengths very well, but more importantly, that
he can help me evaluate his credentials in a paragraph or so.” Such small gestures of
consideration, she says, go a long way toward distinguishing a thoughtful resume from the run-ofthe-mill.
Your summary of qualifications should include:
number of years of professional experience
areas of expertise and career highlights (e.g., “at 26, youngest officer promoted to manager
in bank history”)
unique skills and competencies (e.g., “part-time financials instructor at the SAP Academy”)
other information underlining your particular qualifications for the job
The summary's task is to make your credentials a cut above the rest. But make it brief; two or
three sentences should do.
Lead with your professional experience. Unless you are a new graduate, you should begin the
body of your resume with an outline of your employment history, starting with your most recent
work. List down all the jobs you've had, the company names, dates of employment, titles and
“Don't censor this list; include everything,” advises A fairly straightforward rundown
of your professional experience emphasizes a strong and consistent work history.
A choppy one, on the other hand, where you jump from one company to another within fairly short
periods, or have unaccounted pockets of unemployment, will inevitably lead to questions about
your work ethic, your sense of stability, company loyalty, etc. That's why it's best not to leave a
gap. Account for everything, even for time spent outside of professional work (e.g., “1990-1993—
Full-time parent,” or “1998-1999--Study and travel”).
Highlight concrete achievements. When you describe your professional experience, don't just
enumerate your job responsibilities. A comprehensive job description will only pad up your resume;
save it for the interview. Instead, emphasize any major accomplishments you had chalked up in
the job. Use numbers, figures, percentages if possible.
At the September 1994 Professional Association of Resume Writers' Annual Convention in St. Louis,
Missouri, USA (yes, there is such a thing), invited HR panelists were one in saying they searched
for certain key words and phrases that provided a barometer of a potential candidate's
qualifications. These words were active verbs that described the applicant as a results-oriented,
dynamic individual, such as “accomplish, achieve, analyze, delegate, establish.”
In other words, describe your job in the active, not the passive, voice. Why say, for instance,
“Directly responsible for coordinating community programs” when you can say “Managed
community programs with P12-million annual budget, 4 employees, and 3 office branches;
streamlined program operations, increasing revenues by 20% over a period of 3 months.”
Emphasize your educational preparedness. If you are a new graduate with no professional
experience, lead with your academic background, honors, and extra-curricular activities. Don't
believe the fillip that grades don't matter in the real world; in the beginning at least, they do.
As Fred Damian, HR partner of Ernst & Young-Manila, explains, potential employers understandably
give hiring priority to young people who have more or less proven themselves in academic tasks
and school-related activities. Positions of responsibility in extra-curricular and community
organizations are also reliable indicators of leadership and social interaction skills, he says. Thus,
make sure they're all in your resume.
Leave off the negative points. If you made it to the dean's list in the first semester of your first
year and never made it again, it might be prudent not to include the details anymore. That is,
unless you're prepared to admit during the interview that after a glowing start, you sputtered to a
lame finish. Your educational background should always be positive and purposeful, to encourage
the thinking that you are well prepared for the rigors of the corporate world.
Include special skills and competencies. This is important, particularly in a highly competitive
knowledge-based industry such as IT. In your resume, include the titles, dates, venues, and
agenda of all your training activities and further education, whether formal or informal. Begin with
the most relevant seminars. Be specific: don't just say “assorted computer training,” when you can
say “training in Visual Basic, SAP,” etc. If you are fluent in more than one language, mention that
fact, too.
Either include references--or don't mention them. There are two schools of thought on this:
One says it's necessary to include references. The other says this only lengthens the resume, and
should therefore be available in another sheet of paper only upon request.
Damian, however, advises against using the standard “References available upon request” line.
“It's either you mention references, or none at all,” he says. “What's the point of putting in a
header for 'References' only to say 'Available upon request?'” But if you do include references,
include as well their complete contact details—especially telephone numbers and email addresses,
and also the best time to get in touch with them.
Use personal details sparingly. In the US where job-discrimination laws are wide ranging and
explicit, “a potential employer has no legal right to request information about age, sex, race,
religion, marital status, health, physical appearance, or personal habits,” explains The Writing
Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Such statutes have yet to find root locally, but it is best to leave out as much extraneous (read:
personal) information as possible from your resume, to free up limited space. These include names
and occupations of parents, hobbies and interests, birthplace, etc. Reserve them for the interview
Be concise. Resumes are often read in 30 seconds or less so be brief, straightforward and to the
point. Use bullet points to underscore important information. Employ paragraph breaks, lines, and
numbers. A standard resume should be no more than two pages—three at most if you have
extensive professional experience. Beyond that, your resume needs serious editing.
Proofread! There should be no typographical or spelling errors in your resume. When using
numbers, re-check decimal places or the number of zeros. Punctuation and date formats should be
consistent. For example, if you write “2 February 2000” in one section, don't write “March 5, 2000”
in another.
Make it an easy read. Your resume should also be visually appealing; a carelessly printed,
sloppily designed resume will reflect disastrously on you. Thus, make it easy on the eye with lots of
white spaces, a font no smaller than 10 in size, and at most two conservative typestyles (such as
Times New Roman or Garamond). Underlined and bold text should be used sparingly--only to
highlight significant information or to indicate section breaks.
Another crucial point: Use a laser printer. With cheap laser printing services available even in
neighborhood computer shops nowadays, there is no excuse for jet ink-printed resumes, which
easily smudge or run off. Make sure that the printing is even, with no stray marks, splotches or
blurred letters.
Finally, use only high-quality bond paper--either white or off-white. Don't experiment with flashy
colors such as blue or green, or with fancy graphics and visuals; stick to the simple and
One more suggestion: Once written up, show your resume to friends or colleagues. Listen to their
comments and suggestions, especially on how easy or difficult it is to find important information at a
glance. Then consider all that when rewriting the final draft of your masterpiece.
Tips on Crafting that Online Resume
The difference between the electronic resume and the printed version is who -- or what -- gets to see it
first. The job hunter wanting to post online must first understand this difference before he can prepare a
resume suited for an electronic medium.
Without question, the Internet has revolutionized all aspects of modern living -- business operations,
information gathering, the communication process, even how we pay our bills. Now, the Internet is even
reshaping the hiring landscape.
Just as you can now conveniently use the computer to shop or pay online, so can you use it to send your
resume to potential employers.
The electronic resume does not differ from the traditional printed version in purpose: Both are powerful
selling tools that outline your work skills and experience so an employer can see, at a glance, how you can
contribute to the company's growth.
A marked difference
There is, however, a marked difference in who -- or what -- gets to see it first: While the old-fashioned
resume is written for quick skimming by the human eye, the Web -- or scannable -- resume is written to
be searched by the digital eye. The job hunter wanting to post online must first understand this difference
before he can craft a resume suited for an electronic environment.
You may well ask: Is there really a need to prepare an electronic resume? With almost everything now
being done via the Net, it would be foolish not to do so.
An electronic resume is vital in today's times because an increasing number of businesses have started
using the Internet for hiring purposes. In fact, about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies reportedly
already have a Web hiring presence, and the US-based research firm Internet Business Network estimates
there are about 100,000 job-related sites online.
And online recruitment isn't likely to fade away anytime soon either. For hiring managers, it represents
convenience, efficiency and 24-hour connection to the job market.
“With automated resume submission, we are sure that we get the maximum number of applicants. We can
reach out to as many prospective applicants as possible,” stresses Dona Yap, the personnel head of a
computer firm.
With an electronic resume, therefore, you are well poised to take advantage of this boom in Internet
hiring and send your e-resume instantaneously to any potential employer in any part of the world.
That is exactly what Singapore-bound freelance writer Vernie Reyes, who has been accepted as editor of a
technical magazine there, did. “The Internet is truly amazing. I just filled in my resume details and applied
online. To my surprise, they contacted me, and eventually hired me for the job,” she narrates.
Still need convincing?, the leading e-recruitment site in the Asia-Pacific region, receives
many success testimonials from jobseekers, saying they were able to land a job after registering their
resumes with the website.
Making a Web-compatible resume
Okay, you're finally sold to the idea. Your next question: How do I make a Web-compatible resume that
will impress the digital recruiter?
Reyes, a veteran at online job application, says there are two ways of submitting your electronic resume:
by direct e-mail to a hiring firm or by filling an electronic form and entering it in an online resume bank.
Most companies rely on Internet career sites to help them make jobseeker matches. What's important to
remember is that well-established websites usually have automated recruitment-management software
that winnows the resumes against predetermined employment standards.
At, for instance, SiVA does automated searches and segregates resumes based on
keywords that indicate the candidate's skill, education, knowledge levels and other specific standards set
by the hiring employer. This enables the employer to save a sizable amount of time traditionally spent
going through each resume and separating the qualified from the unqualified.
Focus on nouns
Programmer Ruby Alcala says that knowing this, you must remember to focus on nouns, not verbs.
“Computers do searches by scanning your resume for keywords and phrases describing skills and work
experience needed for the job -- and most of these are nouns,” Alcala says.
But while buzzwords are important don't forget the human aspect of your resume as well. “Buzzwords
help a lot in the initial scanning stage, but make sure you balance this with a description of your
personality and attitude intended for human eyes,” says recruitment officer Tristan Ocampo.
This is because after the computer has done an initial search and drawn up the shortlist of qualified
applicants, an HR officer will be the next to handle your resume. So be sure to include in it as well your
competitive human qualities such as dependability, responsibility and initiative.
“If you wish to increase your selection chances, highlight relevant and related accomplishments,” Ocampo
says. Avoid potential screen-out elements such as unrelated work experiences or a list of brief jobs giving
the impression you're a job hopper.
Save as plain text
On the file format, job seekers are enjoined to send their Web resumes in plain ASCII (American Standard
Code for Information Exchange) text format to ensure all operating systems can read your resumé.
Some job seekers also develop resumes in HTML format so they can exist as a web page, and rather than
submit an online resume, the applicant can just direct the employer to its URL address.
When you are asked to submit by e-mail, always paste your resume into the body of an e-mail message.
Attachments are not recommended, not only because the recipient's operating system may not be able to
read it, but also because most employers are wary of them for fear of contracting viruses.
Protecting your privacy
Now you know what it takes to tailor-fit a resume for the electronic medium. But one last thing before you
hit that send button: Be warned that once released on the Web, your resume is fair game for browsing by
anyone. So if you feel the need to protect your privacy, career counselor Pinky Madrigal suggests
indicating only your e-mail address, withholding your personal address and phone number.
“Remember that once posted, your resume becomes a public document whose readership is beyond your
control,” Madrigal says.
Or, you can choose a career resource website that asks your permission first before your resume is
released for viewing., for instance, has the Truste seal which guarantees privacy and
confidentiality for registered resumes. In essence, the jobseeker has the final say on who to send the
resume to or who shall have access to its contents.
With that in mind, start posting those online resumes!
Know Which Resume Type Suits You Best
by Charisse Laurel Find out which of these resume styles suits most your particular job-seeker profile.
Don’t take your resume for granted! Any job-hunter worth his salt knows a good resume is the key to a
job interview and, ultimately, to employed status. Aside from being a summary of abilities, experience and
education, a resume should reveal your unique selling point to make a potential employer want to get to
know you better.
The secret of an irresistible resume -- it is suited to a specific job offer and addresses the position’s
requirements. A tailored resume carries more impact than a one-size-fits-all.
If your resume is in need of a makeover, the first step to take is to organize information under specific
headings such as education, work experience, honors, skills and activities. When you have it all on paper,
decide on the proper resume format to play up outstanding qualities that make a perfect fit for the job
opening. Take a look at the different kinds of resumes below and choose the one that suits your particular
job-hunter profile:
This format is the most conventional and puts emphasis on an itemized employment history. A job
seeker’s career milestones are presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the current or last
position held. Each position should contain a description of responsibilities and a few bullet points of
This resume type is best for candidates with solid experience and progressive job history in a field or
industry. It lends itself well to those with accumulated work experience relevant to the job offered and
who want to continue along a similar career path.
Below is the suggested format, but be sure to customize it according to the job’s requirements:
Employment History
Professional affiliations
Community Affiliations
Resume authorities agree that most employers prefer this resume style because it is based on facts and is
easily digestible. It clearly demonstrates at a glance your career movements and progress over the years.
The functional resume is one that organizes work history into sections that highlight areas of skill and
accomplishment. This resume variety allows candidates to give prominence to the set of skills and
experiences they deem most relevant to the position. It may be a good choice for job hoppers, career
changers and fresh graduates.
Job hoppers can use it to help make sense of seemingly disconnected experiences and show correlation
between skills and accomplishments not made obvious in a traditional chronological format.
On the other hand, career shifters and recent graduates can utilize this resume type to display
transferable skills and related achievements to convince employers of their suitability for the post.
This resume type often takes this format:
Skill Areas
Employment History
Professional Affiliations
Community Affiliations
Be warned, however, that a functional resume could raise concerns that it hides information gaps and
covers up spotty employment records. Employers might also encounter difficulties matching skills and
accomplishments with actual job titles, dates and responsibilities. To avoid this, include the company
name in the bulleted description of your accomplishments. Moreover, don’t omit at least a brief
chronological listing of your work experience in your functional resume.
As the term implies, the combination resume tries to merge the best features of both chronological and
functional types -- incorporating both a chronological work history and a skills and achievements section.
In this format, skills and accomplishments get top billing followed by employment history.
However, experts caution that the combination resume may not sit well with some employers, who may
find these longer resumes particularly repetitious and confusing. This format can be a good tool, however,
for someone who possesses strong editing skills.
Curriculum vitae
The curriculum vitae is sometimes used interchangeably with resume. But by formal definition, curriculum
vitae refers to a detailed, lengthy and structured outline of educational background, publications, projects,
awards and work history. It could run up to 20 pages and is usually suitable for educators and scientists
boasting extensive academic and professional credentials and seeking positions in education or research.
Here is the recommended format for the curriculum vitae:
5. Employment History
Electronic resume
Simply put, the electronic resume is one that can be sent by e-mail or on the Internet, and is specially
formatted for scanning and searching by optical scanning systems. This format is the one frequently used
when sending resumes through electronic resume banks and job sites like
The electronic resume can come in different file formats, but experts recommend the use of ASCII (or
American Standard Code for Information Interchange) file formats as they are universally recognized by
PC, Macintosh, UNIX workstations and mainframe terminals. The three most common ASCII (pronounced
ASK-ee) file formats are plain text, rich text and hypertext.
Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages. Plain text is the most popularly used format for
resume transfers across computer systems and is identified by the .txt file extension. Its main drawback
is, of course, its no-frills, plain-look format, which can be remedied with the use of asterisks and other
special characters to achieve a bulleted effect.
Rich text, identified by the .rtf file extension, provides more formatting options and is gaining grounds for
its compatibility across word processors. Rich text is very convenient to use for existing resumes that are
in word document or are sent as an email attachment. However, some destination computers may have
email browsers that do not recognize this file format. If you are unsure about the read capability of a
recipient’s e-mail system, you would do better applying plain text formatting.
Hypertext, also known as a web page, is identified through the file extension .htm or .html. This file
format requires a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) to view your resume. A
major setback to hypertext resume is that it relies on self-promotion rather than on the support of a large
recruitment site.
Related Articles
Tips on Crafting that Online Resume
13 Tips to Writing the Right Resume
Want To Survive A Bad Reference?
by Koon Mei Ching
"You can't… always get …what you wa-ant" goes that familiar melodious refrain. And when the sun doesn't
shine on your job search references, the chill of your search mission can be veritably frosty.
But, let me start at a more logical beginning. Your references function as an objective third-party opinion
of you. It is meant to be a way for interviewers to have a good view of your "employability". If you're
sniffing out your next job, you know that references are vital to your resume. If you left your previous job
under less than wonderful circumstances between you and your boss or had a bad academic report, it is
important to know how a bad reference (written or verbal) can affect your job application process and how
to manage this potentially sticky situation.
The Professional Reference
If you have a previous employer that might give you a bad reference, you probably know who it is. The
good thing about the scenario is that you should be able to make a good guess at what he/she might say whether you were fired or quit because of various reasons. Knowing where your problem areas were (if
they are reflected in your resume and references) is the first step in responding to them.
For example, if you quit or were fired from your last job in your current field due to a
personality conflict with your employer/supervisor, approach it from a neutral and positive
angle. You can explain in your first interview (if they bring it up) that the problem wasn't one of your
competency but working style. You can say that despite your best attempts to make things work,
sometimes certain people are just unable to work effectively together. There are many different styles of
doing things that are not always compatible.
Luckily most Employers and HR Managers will generally only answer factual reference questions that refer
to data like date of hire/title/Job duties/date of termination. Most employers would not bother with
opening up a can of worms to undo the reputation of a previous employee. Furthermore, your prospective
employer knows you are switching jobs, so, logically, the previous job could not have been the best fit.
So just be positive and focus on the tasks you have accomplished and the valuable experience gained at
your previous job, while pointing to the competencies you developed at other jobs where you have more
positive references.
Reference Ala' Academia
In the academic arena on the other hand, if you did not manage to produce very good results in
your academic exams, explain to the interviewer what other positive circumstances might have
influenced the result. For example, at an interview after graduating, the interviewer peered over at me
to ask why my final year results were not in Grade 1 as in my previous two years. I told him frankly that I
spent a lot of time diving into many extra-curricular activities that helped me develop valuable leadership
and management skills. This meant that I had less time to spend on studying, but I had obtained skills in
many other areas, not only academically. (I swear though, it's true!) They thought this made me a
stronger candidate, and I got the job!
If, of course, you did not do well but it was due to too much partying, do not lie. Interviewers have an
uncanny ability to figure this out sooner or later. Instead, try to review the skills you can bring to the job
and concentrate on how you would be able to contribute even with less than sterling qualifications. In the
end, all interviewers want to know how you will perform in your new job and if you can convince them of
that, you have a good chance.
Prepping Your Referees
Finally, always remember to inform your referees of the fact that they might be required to produce
references to your interviewers at least 1-2 weeks in advance to prepare. Don't forget to send them copies
of your most recent resume as well, so that they are able to remember the details of who you were, what
you did and have the time to write up/prepare a good reference for you.
Preparation, preparation and more preparation is the way to go to ensure that your referees
are able to present a good view of you, you are able to anticipate the possible reference-related
questions being asked (especially bad ones ) and ultimately, that your value to the hiring party
is enhanced!.
Of course, if you think that your past will seriously mess up your current job hunt, you might find it
amusing to know that in the USA, a site called helps people prepare themselves for the
effects of bad references by calling up past employers and checking out what they say about you, both the
good, bad, and the stuff in between! What will they think of next?
How much should you inflate your CV?
by Koon Mei Ching
The past few weeks since I came back into the recruitment scene, I have noticed quite a few complaints
from HR managers about inflated CVs. I thought it interesting to find out what they were concerned about.
Fair enough, you read all about the right way to write a resume, what you should focus on, what you
should enhance and how you should say the things you want to say. What you get in the end should be a
well-crafted piece to market your skills and experience in your chosen field.
What actually happens? It seems that many of you may be better students than we thought! The latest
concern among time-pressed recruiters is that the CVs submitted do not truly represent the candidate
invited for interview. If you state that you were able to manage an extensive project from resourceallocation to budgeting, you have better make sure you can back that up in the interview.
I remember running screening interviews for a large multinational a year ago. The initial screeners would
whittle down the field of candidates by reviewing their CVs by looking at their skills, educational
backgrounds and extra-curricular activities. I was actually really amazed at the number of supercandidates emerging from that process. I was regularly slotted to interview students and experienced
hires with quite the impressive list of achievements!
However, during the interview, I was often sorely disappointed. For example, there was a student who
was President of many societies and organisations at his university. When I probed him further on his role
and achievements within these positions, he told me that there were five members in total, and that he
had organised two picnics to local parks. Even though I wanted to find some nugget of brilliance in this
candidate by giving him the benefit of the doubt, I emerged from the session disappointed and rather
annoyed that he had tried to cheat me as an interviewer.
Guan, the Chief Structural Engineer at a global luxury car manufacturer in the USA, was telling me about
his own experience hiring yesterday. He was looking for senior designers who could hit the ground
running, and he invited a candidate who seemed to glow in his resume. What the candidate did not know
was that he was going to be tested in his skills. Despite an elaborate enhancement of his design
experiences in his CV, when he was put to the test, he could not even get past the first half. When asked
why he could not do as his resume dictated, he said: "I could do it, if you gave me instructions on what to
Needless to say, neither my university graduate nor Guan's experienced candidate got called back for a
second interview.
It is important to learn the difference between writing a good honest CV and inflating it. If you do a good
job of the former, you will get through based upon your own merits if you are right for the job. If you
manage the latter - inflation - you may get your foot in the door for the first round of interviews, but your
cover will be quickly blown, and it will leave a very bad taste in the interviewer's mouth. That will most
definitely kill your chances of progressing any further, and even ruin the potential to keep a relationship
going with the recruiter for future opportunities.
So be wise and honest when writing your CV. It is not fictional storytelling; it is an autobiography that
should know the difference between who you are, and who you wish you could be. The reader will find out
by the first chapter.
How to Write Thank You Letters
by Sacha DeVoretz,
You’re planning to work in the United States. You’ve got a great American-style resume, and you feel you
are the perfect candidate for a job that has just been advertised. But how do you advertise yourself?
American employers demand a Cover Letter.
What exactly IS a cover letter? If you can think of your job search resume as the “dinner” of the job
search meal, then your Cover Letter is your resume’s “appetizer.” A cover letter’s primary purpose is to
act as an employer’s introduction to your resume. Put simply, it is a brief outline of your career objectives,
a summary of your previous work experience, and a list of some notable career highlights. This letter is all
about who you are and what you do. The idea is to make this introductory topsheet interesting and so well
written that, after reading it, the employer’s interest will be piqued enough to go on to read your resume.
The first step to your dream job in the USA is to have the best possible cover letter and resume - first
impressions, to an American employer, count the most. Having a perfect cover letter with your resume
can mean the difference between being asked for an interview and your document being thrown in the
trash. Here are some helpful Do’s to keep in mind when you are crafting your great new cover letter:
DO - keep your cover letter to one page. Any longer, and it may end up inspiring the employer
to stop reading – and even to skip reading the attached resume all together.
DO - include career successes. Examples make your experience stand out.
DO - address the cover letter to the Human Resources Manager by name if possible. The
more the letter seems “personalized” and less like a mass mail-out, the better chance it will have
to be read by the right person.
DO - include the company's name and address in the cover letter if possible. If you are
doing a “mass mail-out” (sending the same copy of cover letter and resume to many employers),
then you can exclude the name and address of the companies being applied to. Remember, if
applying for a specific job with one company, try to include the company name and address in the
letter and try to include the name of the hiring person. Remember – first impressions count!
DO - try to imagine what the employer would like to hear about how you can contribute to
the company right away and help the company realize its goals.
DO - provide a sampling of your greatest workplace accomplishments. Try to include
statistics and measurable results to document your successes.
DO - If you are in a technical industry, list a few of the technical programs that you
specialize in. This helps the employer understand your strengths as a potential employee.
And now, some Don’ts. Avoid making these costly mistakes in your cover letter and resume:
DO NOT include any personal information such as photographs, your health status,
marital status, religion or your birth date. This is not necessary in America, and in some US
States such information opens your potential employer to possible discrimination lawsuits.
DO NOT state that you would like to immigrate, come to the USA on a work permit (if
this is applicable), or that you are a new immigrant. This is personal information that will
NOT secure you a job. You want your resume and cover letter to be judged on your employment
merits only.
DO NOT state salary expectations or your previous salaries. This delicate issue can and will
be discussed at a job interview later on.
DO NOT state what you expect from the company and the position. You are first trying to
impress the employer with your skill set and gain their interest. Your “demands” can be addressed
in formed “questions” to the employer later in the job interview process.
DO NOT use the same information in your cover letter as your resume. This is tricky, but
worth the effort. This will ensure that you keep the reader's interest. No one wants to read the
same information twice. Try to re-phrase or sum up the work experiences you have had using
different terms or descriptions.
DO NOT include personality profiles or overviews. The employer will learn about your
personal traits during the interview.
One of the most important details of a cover letter is that it use correct American English and is free of
mistakes. Nothing says, “I’m not good enough for the job” like grammatical and spelling errors. If English
is a second language for you, it is a good idea to ask someone who is very practiced at reading and
writing American English to review your cover letter and resume. They can edit the cover letter and
resume and make sure that the spelling and grammar are perfect. If you’re writing on your own, you
should also use a US-style “spell check” program in your word processor or computer.
Remember, if the employers don't find your cover letter to be in a very professional format or if it is
marred by spelling errors or is just not compelling enough, they may not bother to go on to read the rest
of your resume. The American job will always go to a person with a great cover letter and resume.
If you would like more information about current USA job news and more effective insider tips for landing
a job in the USA, please visit
This article © 2004 Sacha DeVoretz and
All Worldwide Rights Reserved.
Cover letters make a great first impression
One of the most underutilized job-hunting tools, the thank you letter when properly wielded packs a mean
So you thought you’ve done all you can, after going through the interview, and all you can do now is sit
and wait.
Not so. You still have one potent weapon in your marketing arsenal to help tilt the odds in your favor: The
thank you letter. According to the experts, less than 10 percent of interviewees bother to send one after
the interview, not knowing what a great sales opportunity they’ve missed.
The thank you letter serves an array of purposes, all intending to make you look good. Among these are:
portray you as courteous and professional.
help you stand above the crowd.
give you an opportunity to restate your good points.
allow you to state important facts not said during the interview.
Points to Remember
So if you haven’t moved beyond first base in the interview process, the thank you letter may just be the
missing key. In writing the letter, it is best to keep these guidelines in mind:
Send your letter promptly-preferably within the first couple of days and no later than a week after
the interview.
Address it to a specific person, and make sure you got the name right.
Keep it brief: A short page of two or three paragraphs will do.
Preferably, type your letter, following the standard business letter format.
Use the letter to reiterate your interest in the job and give a summary of your related skills and
Leverage this opportunity to mention important information left out during the interview. This is
your chance to make up if you flubbed your answers.
Customize your letter. You don’t need to draft a different letter for each company, but do tailor the
content to the interviewer’s particular interests and concerns.
Proofread for misspellings, typos and grammatical boo-boos.
Parts of a Thank You Letter
A thank you letter should contain the following:
First paragraph. Convey how much you enjoyed and appreciated the meeting, and make some positive
remarks about the company.
Second paragraph. Let the interviewer know you’re still keen on getting the position. Reiterate your
strengths and mention pertinent or new information that you failed to bring up during the interview.
Closing paragraph. Inform the interviewer that you would appreciate hearing from him or her again, and
indicate your willingness to come in for a second interview.
Thank You by E-mail
Ideally, thank you letters should be typewritten on clean, high-quality bond paper and delivered by post or
courier. But most experts agree that e-mailed thank you letters are now also acceptable. E-mail enables
you to send your message instantaneously, which could play a big role if the employer needs to make a
quick hiring decision. If possible, follow up your e-mail with a hard copy.
Just like the printed letter, the e-mail version should be short and to the point -- ideally one screen length.
It should also adhere to professional business letter standards. In particular, steer clear of informal
language devices such as:
Emoticons (smiling faces, sad faces)
Lower-case first-person pronouns (i, i’ve, i’ll)
Lower-case first letter of a sentence
Shorthand and telegraphic sentences (Sending you more details...)
Acronyms (BTW for by the way, ASAP for as soon as possible, TIA for thanks in advance)
Click here for sample thank you letters. Checklist for Cover Letter Success
While an impeccable resume will definitely stand out, it is only 50 percent of what can get you that job.
The other half is an impeccable cover letter.
People often spend long, excruciating hours poring over their resume. Finally satisfied, they send it to the
employer and sit back, waiting for good news and often getting disappointed. While an impeccable resume
will definitely stand out, it is only 50 percent of what can get you that job. The other half is an impeccable
cover letter.
Experts admonish job seekers to always include a cover letter with their resume, even if the want ad may
not have specifically asked for it. The cover letter is a powerful marketing medium in which to underscore
your suitability for the position, something the resume cannot quite accomplish on its own. A good cover
letter allows you to explain how your qualifications, experience and skills can contribute to the company’s
goals and growth.
To ensure a results-oriented cover letter, we’ve created a checklist you can use to guide you in writing.
Is your cover letter addressed to a particular person?
Be sure to cite the name of the hiring official in your salutation. Don’t take the easy way out and write
“Dear Sir/Madam,” “Gentlemen,” “Sirs,” “Mr. President” or worse, “To Whom It May Concern.” Your letter
may just reach a most unconcerned person who’ll throw it in the dust bin. If you don’t know who to write
to, find out through research, networking and even calling the company and making discreet inquiries.
Warning: Don’t blow it by spelling the name incorrectly.
Is it brief and to the point?
Limit your cover letter to one page of up to five paragraphs at most (each paragraph having from one to
three sentences). For brevity and conciseness, use simple language and action verbs. Remove all
superfluous words, and be extremely wary about fancy phrases and complex sentence structures if you’ve
not perfected the art of writing. Avoid cliches such as “Enclosed please find my resume” which just eat
space that can be better utilized.
Is the opening paragraph an attention-grabber?
With the mountain of resumes the recruiter has to dig through, you usually have only 15 seconds to
convince him to read through. That said, it’s important that what you say in your first paragraph should be
of great interest to the employer. One way to do this is to highlight your main skills as they apply to the
job, or to mention your knowledge of the company and tie this information in with the skills or qualities
that make you the perfect candidate.
Is your cover letter personalized?
The cover letter is a way to tell the employer you know what he needs and this is what you can do to fulfill
those needs. List the qualifications and requirements posted in the ad and indicate how you meet them.
Stress that by hiring you, you believe you can help improve company services, enhance efficiency, or
increase productivity. Give concrete examples and instances to prop up your claims. For an added touch,
find out more about the company and insert this information to impress to the hiring official that you have
expended effort to discover more about their organization.
Is the tone positive and confident?
You should never let negative emotions seep through. The cover letter is not the venue for venting
frustrations or expressing bitterness or maligning previous employers. Instead it should emphasize your
positive points-your skills, talents, capabilities and experiences as they relate to the position on offer.
While you should not overstate your qualities, don’t underestimate yourself either. The cover letter is your
professional showcase so present yourself the best way you can.
Is your cover letter spotless?
Don’t just rely on your computer’s spell checker. Check and recheck your letter for typos, misspellings,
wrong grammar or inappropriate punctuation. If you have the time, set it aside and read it again after a
couple of days with refreshed eyes. Request a better writer to critique your letter and catch anything you
might have missed. For a professional look, use quality bond paper and letter-quality or laser printer.
Avoid dot-matrix printers or manual typewriters.
Is it proactive?
Since you took the initiative to apply, make sure to follow through. Don’t wait for the employer to contact
you; state in your letter that you will call within the week--and do so. Include your contact details--phone
number, email address, cell phone number--to facilitate communication.
Did you sign it?
Always sign your letter, or the employer may feel slighted that you forgot to affix your personal signature
or may assume it’s a form letter. If possible, use a sign pen.
Writing A Cover Letter
by Ngeow Yeok Meng
A complete job application consists of a cover letter and a resume. The cover letter is meant to highlight
your individuality or personality, and to make you stand out from among hundreds of other applicants.
When there are more job seekers around than job vacancies, human resource personnel tend to be more
selective when short listing candidates for interview. Hence, you should use the cover letter as a tool to
win the heart of a prospective employer. Market yourself to create a positive first impression in the cover
letter, so that the person will read your resume, shortlist you for an interview, and offer you a job. A
poorly written cover letter is likely to get instant rejection from the employer given the current job
As there is no standard format for cover letter, you are encouraged to write a particular cover letter, one
at a time, to apply for the position of your interest. Cover letter should not be generic, i.e. you should not
use the same cover letter for all the companies you wish to approach. This is because details like where
and when you learnt about the vacancy, why you are interested to apply, what you have to offer to the
company etc. are different for each of these companies.
Generally, a well written cover letter should provide answers to what the employers want to know:
Are you the kind of person they are looking for?
Do you have the relevant education, work experience and skills?
Can you handle the work demands, based on the job description?
Have you shown a commitment to this particular field of interest?
How well can you communicate with others?
Are you a team player?
Have you any leadership qualities?
Guidelines for writing a cover letter:
Organise your thoughts carefully
Express yourself clearly and reasonably
Use strong action words to describe your achievements
Use active rather than passive voice
Avoid jargon
Avoid long sentences
Avoid bad grammar and spelling mistakes
Limit the length to one page only
Proof read before you send via e-mail
Layout of a cover letter
1. The opening
o Include your name and address, the date, employer's designation and address, salutation
and subject.
2. Introduction
o Nominate the job for which you are applying for.
o Indicate the source and date of the job information.
o Mention briefly your qualifications
o Indicate your interest, career objective or goal.
3. Sales pitch
o Highlight the extent to which you match the requirements of the job.
State your relevant experience gained from industrial attachments, projects, vacation or
part-time jobs.
o Give a brief summary of your educational achievements, experience, qualities, capabilities
and skills.
o Outline any further points in your favour related to the job and mention the attached
o Mention your interest in the organisation and your reason for applying for that particular
4. Request for further action
o Write that you look forward to a call or letter.
o State your availability for interview.
o Thank the person for his or her time and consideration.
5. The complimentary close
o Remember to sign personally and include your name. State your enclosures such as your
attached resume, academic results or references.
Sample Cover Letter 1
Ngeow Yeok Meng
12-A, Jalan Kajang Mewah 10
Taman Kajang Mewah
Kajang 43000
5 December 1998
The Human Resource Manager
JobStreet Sdn Bhd
Suite 4.3, Wisma Maran
338, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
50100 Kuala Lumpur
Dear Sir/Madam,
I refer to your advertisement placed in JobStreet's homepage dated 2 December 1998 for the above
position. Realising that Internet is no longer an alternative but a necessity in the next millenium, I am
keen to enhance my career in the content development of web site of your company.
Allow me to introduce myself briefly. I gained basic knowledge of journalistic reporting, feature writing
and editing skills from my major in Media Studies from the University of Malaya. My present job as a
senior editor in a news agency since 1994 provides me with work experience and on-the-job training in
the above areas.
In 1997, I had the opportunity to write for Alta Vista, an Internet content provider for the Asia Pacific
region. The extensive knowledge I gained from my research work on employment trend and labour
market information has enlightened me in many ways. I believe I can share my expertise with JobStreet
in terms of recruitment practices and human resource management if given the opportunity.
I'm also well-versed in HTML and Pagemaker 6.0 as I have been actively involved in maintaining the web
site of the news agency I serve. I'm able to meet deadline promptly as a result of many years of working
at a fast pace in this agency.
The attached resume of mine will provide you more information about my work experience. I'll be glad to
attend an interview to furnish you with more details. I can be reached via e-mail [email protected]
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Yours faithfully,
----------------------------(Ngeow Yeok Meng)
Enclosed: Resume, Academic Results, References.
Sample Cover Letter 2
Rosli Abdul Hamid
13, Jalan 17/21
Sri Petaling
57000 Kuala Lumpur
5 December 1998
Mr. Geh Thuan Hooi
Group Human Resource Manager
AE Technologies
7, Jalan 7, Cheras Jaya
Jalan Balakong
43200 Selangor
Dear Mr. Geh,
I wish to apply for the position of management trainee as advertised in JobStreet homepage on the 1st
December 1998.
I'm currently enrolled in the final year of a business administration course at the Universiti Utara Malaysia,
and will graduate in April 1999.
Your company's unique involvement and position in the manufacturing of precision metal stampings and
tooling has prompted me to apply for the management trainee position in your organisation. I am very
interested in pursuing a career in the area of business administration. My academic transcript, which I
have enclosed, shows that I have completed a wide range of subjects that provide me with a firm base of
knowledge and skills relevant to the requirements of the management trainee position.
I notice that the position you advertised requires two years of work experience. Although I have not any
work experience pertaining to the manufacturing industry, I have gone through a five-month industrial
training during my final year of study where I was given tasks equivalent to a management executive. I
have performed well during the training which had helped me expose to various managerial skills and
practical knowledge.
My attached resume demonstrates my capacity to be a leader who is able to work in a team environment,
set and achieve long and short term goals, think analytically and solve problems. I believe my knowledge
and technical know-how in the field of management will help me contribute a great deal to your company.
Above all, I possess the interest and determination to perform well in the graduate position you are
I look forward to meeting with you to discuss the position further. I can be contacted on 012-2116888
between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the following e-mail address: [email protected]
Thank you for your consideration.
Yours sincerely,
----------------------------(Rosli Abdul Hamid)
The Magic of Cover Letters
by Ngeow Yeok Meng
Cover letter is a letter accompanying your resume in job application. It is a tool to project a professional
image about yourself before the employer decides to see you face-to-face in an interview.
Sending a resume without a cover letter is like going to a job interview barefoot. It gives an impression
that you don't take the employment opportunity seriously and you really don't care about anything
concerning the job you apply for.
In real life experience, employers and HR personnel do judge a resume by its cover. A well constructed
cover letter can impress the employer to take action on your resume. In other words, the piece of paper
covering your resume actually generates prospective interview and increase the chances of you being
A cover letter should be typed and confined to one page to catch the reader's attention.
You should convince the employer about your strengths, and support your strengths with evidence.
You should address to a specific person by name and position, and not "ToWhom It May Concern".
Your cover letter should reflect your personality and style – qualities that are important in the
hiring decision.
Your tone should be professional, personal, positive, upbeat and value neutral throughout the
You should be career-centered or employer-oriented by indicating your wish to progress with the
organization, to be educated and trained on the job etc.
Avoid using self-centered statements about yourself, or flattering the organization you intend to
Wondering what to include in a cover letter?
Where and when you learned about the position. Employers like to know where candidates learn
about the vacancy in order to determine the effectiveness of their advertising strategies.
What are your special skills and experience directly related to the employer's needs. This will save
the employer's time to search for these important elements in your resume.
Why you're interested in this position and/or the organization. Find out more about the
organization so that you can state your objectives in line with the organization's goals.
Address your gratitude followed by your signature using good quality pen.
That's all.
Techniques of Letter Writing
by Ngeow Yeok Meng
In job search, cover letter, resume or curriculum vitae are the messengers you send to future employers
to create good impressions of yourself. Job seekers who take pains to write impressive letters will find it is
worth all the time and effort when they succeed in getting a good job.
Do put your professionalism, competence and personality in letter writing to increase chances of being
taken seriously for a prospectiveinterview. Take note of major and minor matters before sending your
Have a clear purpose before writing a letter
Plan and organize each section
Convey the most important ideas first
Consider the needs of the organization
Opening sentence should be concise and clear
Communicate purpose in the opening paragraph
Keep paragraph short and sentences simple
Write letter that can convince the reader to take action
Good grammar, correct spelling and punctuation
Use more "you" than "I" or "we"
Use assertion rather than negation "not"
Use active voice in sentence construction
Use personal rather than formal language
Cheerful and creative in tone and style
Courteous and considerate in approach
Double check mistakes carefully