What does it take to be in the business of resume writing, wonders Oon Yeoh
HANS Toh is a writer but he’s not your regular writer. He specialises in writing resumes. This is a rather unusual job and it certainly wasn’t part of his career plans. Hans studied engineering and worked in that field for several years before he decided to switch to a career as a resume writing specialist.
The idea of specialising in resumes came about when during the course of his initial career in engineering, he had to write resumes for his various job applications.
“I was looking for professional guidance on how to write a good resume but such help was hard to come by,” he recalls.
So he searched the Internet for ideas. He found that much of the resources were Western-centric and thus not that suitable for this part of the world. That made him realise there was a gap that needed to be filled. He saw an opportunity and seized it.
Hans talks to Savvy about the business of resume writing, what constitutes a good resume and his plans to expand and broaden his services in this very unusual field.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE MALAYSIA’S FIRST CERTIFIED RESUME WRITER?
At the time, there were some people offering resume writing services out there but they weren’t very good. None had any kind of professional training in it. So to distinguish myself, I decided to become the first Malaysian to get certified in this area. The certification is offered by the Professional Association of Resume Writers based in the US.
WAS THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS A STRINGENT ONE?
It wasn’t easy. I had to do a lot of research and spend countless hours writing to perfect my skills. The certification involves a two-part online examination done over a specified period of time. The first part gauges your grasp of the English language as well as your understanding of the recruitment market. The questions are really challenging. The second part requires you to write a resume based on a hypothetical client. The bulk of the marks will come from this section.
HOW DOES YOUR SERVICE WORK?
Clients can engage my services via my website (www.hans.com.my) where they can submit their existing resume as the base reference document. I’ll send them a series of fact-finding questions via e-mail. Once all the information I need is received, I’ll provide them with a resume design as well as details about the flow of information in the resume.
If the client agrees to my proposal and makes a payment, the drafting process will commence. I can usually get the job done within three days.
HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR SERVICES?
Everything is done via online channels, namely Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. It makes sense to go the online route as job seekers today will turn to the Internet whenever they’re looking for a job.
DO YOU PERSONALLY USE THE INTERNET A LOT?
Yes, definitely. To write a resume well, I’ll have to find out details of the industry my client is in. I need to understand the industry and ensure that the right jargon, buzzwords and lingo are used. I’m constantly researching things online.
COULDN’T A PERSON JUST LOOK AT SAMPLE RESUMES ONLINE OR BUY A BOOK ON HOW TO WRITE A GOOD RESUME?
They certainly could but it takes a lot of time to do that. Most people don’t have time. They want to get a job fast! Besides, why not let a professional help you get a leg up with an effective resume? When clients come to me, they know that they’ll get a top-quality resume.
ARE YOU STICKING TO JUST WRITING RESUMES OR HAVE YOU BEEN EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS?
Oh, I’ve been very busy on that front. Besides writing resumes, I’m also coaching people on effective interviewing skills. I conduct workshops in universities and colleges. And I recently published a book about resume writing, which I hope will serve as a guide for fresh graduates. New services include LinkedIn profile development. I’d like to scale the business but it’s all about finding the right partner to help you do this.
THESE DAYS PEOPLE CAN GO TO SITES LIKE FIVERR AND GET ARTWORK DONE FOR US$5 (RM22.50). WHAT IF SOMEONE COMES UP WITH A RESUME SERVICE FOR US$5?
Yeah, there’s nothing to stop anyone from offering very cheap resume writing services but generally, you get what you pay for. If the service is so cheap, you have to wonder how good it is. Imagine if you were going for surgery, would you want to go with the cheapest surgeon or would you prefer the one who’s properly qualified, even though he might cost more?
WHAT’S A GOOD RESUME?
The best resume is one that’s tailored-made for a specific position. Let’s say Jane is a marketing specialist who conducts training very infrequently. And let’s say she wants a career change that moves her more into the area of training. In such a case, her resume has to talk more about her training expertise rather than her marketing strengths.
An excellent resume generally contains three key elements: Relevant working experience, measurable achievements and educational background or professional training obtained. You can think of a resume as a kind of report card where you can find the name of the subjects taken as well as the grades achieved. In a resume, work experiences are the subjects while the measurable achievements are the grades.
HOW LONG SHOULD A RESUME BE?
For fresh graduates, they can be between one and two pages. For someone with 20 years’ of experience, the length can go up to three or four pages. But don’t make the mistake that the longer the resume, the better. The important thing is that the information presented in the resume has to be relevant to the job being applied for. During my job search days, my resume would be around two pages long.
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE MALAYSIAN JOB SEEKERS?
Identify your own measurable achievements. Start keeping a note book on how much money you have made for your company or how much money you have saved for your company, etc.