The average Singaporean fresh grad has a resumé as long as his 55-year-old father does, since he’s probably been interning aggressively since the age of 14. That can be very troublesome for you if you’re the last university student left on earth who, unlike your peers hasn’t amassed the equivalent of 10 years’ worth of internship.
But maybe you had a good reason to have not flooded yourself with internships. Maybe you were not spending all your holidays playing WOW but were out there, in the real world, trying to actually earn some money at a part-time job, instead of interning 50 hours a week to earn $300 a month.
All is not lost. If you’ve got part-time work experience, there are some ways you can spin that into something positive on your resume. Believe it or not, when I went for interviews for my first job, interviewers were actually more interested in a blogshop I had run than my internships. Here’s how you can creatively repurpose these jobs for your resume.
Don’t just say what you did in your part-jobs, but identify your achievements and the skills you honed
Nobody really cares that you spent your entire university career making lattes at Starbucks or filling in Excel spreadsheets.
That doesn’t mean your work experience has been a complete waste! I’ll be honest—employers aren’t going to care that much about your part-time jobs if they’re not relevant to your current field of work. But if you’ve got nothing else, having a solid part-time job or two is preferable to looking like you spent your entire uni career sitting on your arse, receiving handouts from your parents.
Even the most mundane part-time job should have let you hone some useful skills, or given you the chance to shine.
If, like many local uni students, you were a private tutor to screaming brats, you might want to highlight that you displayed excellent interpersonal skills and were able to motivate a kid enough to improve his F9 in math to an A1. After all, everyone loves an employee with good skills of persuasion.
If your job involved flipping burgers in the empire of Ronald McDonald, you probably learnt a lot about team work while coordinating your cooking tasks with the guys taking orders at the counter. Talk about the number of people in your team and how your presence made operations run more smoothly.
If you did something mundane but in a big company, talk about your employer and how you gained insight into their industry
Sometimes, it’s not really the job that matters, but the company. If you had a part-time job at a big company, especially one that’s relevant to your current field, that might make employers pay a little more attention to you.
For instance, if you’re a fresh grad interviewing for a banking job and had a holiday temp job doing admin at Citibank, that’s going to make you look a little more impressive than your classmates who did admin at No Name SME Pte Ltd.
If you worked part-time while at school, emphasise how you managed to successfully juggle work with school and CCAs
Employers love candidates who are good at time management, mainly because it means you’re not afraid of being saddled with a lot of work.
If you had a very full schedule at school, it might be a good idea to highlight on your resume or your cover letter how much you had on your plate while at uni, and how successful you were at managing your time and juggling all these different roles.
I think any employer would be tempted to hire a candidate who managed to juggle a part-time job, a leadership position at school and volunteer work, all while maintaining a decent GPA. Such people are superhuman, and if that’s you, you definitely want the world to know.
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