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How to resume your career if you’re an economic victim of the pandemic

One of the harshest effects of the Covid-19 virus on humans has been leaving them short of cash, gasping for a financial lifeline or perhaps, most devastatingly, unemployed.

After years of steady employment, many found themselves redundant, without a job and forced to cope with a new abnormal in their lives.

So, what does one do when faced with this harsh reality?

Those with entrepreneurial skills are able to cook up something. Others pivoted and LinkedIn became their favourite social media.

Forced to search for new jobs after years of being employed, submitting resumes, enduring the rigours of job search and attending interviews all over again became the new normal - something they had not done for decades but now again via Zoom.

Resumes are like Tinder profiles. It is the first impression a headhunter or potential employer gets, so it’s important to make it look good.

According to Hans Toh – the first Malaysian to be certified by US-based Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW) – most Malaysians, even though highly qualified, do not write theirs very well simply because it is not their forte.

“After all, if you are very experienced drilling engineer, your forte will be oil drilling, not writing,” says Hans, who also holds a Certified Employment Interview Professional certificate from PARW.

The best resumes, he says, are tailor made for each job that highlights relevant keywords as well as measurable achievements and concise experiences.

Hiring managers are not always able to get a sense of an applicant’s experiences and skills sets, so the ability to present them in a resume is an important tool that will still be used in the foreseeable future.

“Prospective employers are looking at specific keywords that match the job scope during the initial screening. They are looking to determine whether the resume is worth reading further.”

After that, they will be looking at the measurable achievements that the candidate has contributed, followed by experiences and paper qualifications.

The most common mistake, he says, is sharing all experiences and personal information with no effort at all in customising the resume towards the targeted job. The main weakness most candidates have is identifying their measurable contributions.

His advice on improving resumes is to look at the targeted job and ensuring the experiences mentioned fulfil the job requirements.

As for language, grammar and content, he believes all three are equally important.

For those who feel that they could use a professional makeover for their resumes, Hans provides a wide range of writing services – resume and cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile development, as well as interview coaching and workshops on various job-hunting topics.

How did Hans get started on his path? It goes back to 2002 when, as a fresh graduate, he was looking for professional guidance in writing a good resume but found it difficult to come by.

“Like any other graduates, I searched and utilised whatever I could from the Internet, but most of the time, the information was not applicable to my needs.

“And during that time, most employment companies were set up to serve employers rather than employees. I noticed the gap which compelled me to make a bold decision to go into this business.”

Despite the existence of new employment platforms like LinkedIn, resumes are still needed as part of the early phase for the recruitment funnel.

The first thing he looks at when reworking a resume is if the information flow is according to PARW prescribed standards.

His assessment process includes a list of questions to identify the targeted job, related experiences and achievements.

There are, according to him, three different styles – chronological, functional and a combination of chronological-functional. The style to be used will depend on the target role that is being applied

“If the role requires experiences related to the applicant’s current role, then it is best to go for chronological. But if the experiences related are from a distant previous role, then a functional style will be best. The combination style works best for fresh grads without much working experiences.”

Does he guarantee success? “As an indication, prior to the MCO, the success rate of getting an interview offer within the first two weeks after using the resume that I have created is between 80% - 85%,” Hans revealed

Is submitting a resume that has been professionally enhanced in a way deluding a prospective employer?

Hans sees it as assisting his clients to identify and map out their “sellable” experiences and values that they can offer to potential companies.

“It is like having a marketing agency to serve individuals rather than companies. If hiring a third party to write your resume is considered unethical, then wouldn’t companies that hire marketing agencies to write advertorials and marketing content be misleading to the consumer as well?

“At the end of the day, companies are looking to hire qualified people but if these qualified people are not able to demonstrate their value on paper and get passed-on, it will be a loss to the companies. I am able to help them do that.

“What is unethical is putting in experiences and qualifications that the candidates do not possess. That I won’t do,” Hans concluded.

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