Singapore CV Writing Guide

Work in abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, it needs more than just the obvious Singapore CV writing and translation – it requires methodical preparation. You will face issues that almost certainly did not even cross your mind when you become interested in Singapore jobs.

Do not take too lightly the influence an Singapore CV can have on your adventure! For instance, you will experience the different immigration rules and practices, job application procedures, the selection trends and the management culture.

Prepare yourself. Before writing your CV research the advertisement and company, you want to work for. Such information will help you to adapt your Singapore CV more effectively to each specific job and use of proper examples illustrating your achievements.

Focus on keywords used in the job posting and description - qualities and/or characteristics – employers, HR personnel and hiring managers are seeking. This increase your chances of passing through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), recruitment management software utilized around the globe for application screening.

Call the HR department or research the biographies of the company's management team to discover what might be required on job application. You do not want to find out after the fact that a company rejected your application because you violated some unwritten rule about essential CV components.

art warning Singapore CVIf you are applying for jobs in multinational corporations operating in the region, you may need to submit a Singapore resume instead of a Singapore CV

The terms CV and resume are often used interchangeably in Singapore. You can turn your current resume into a CV. A CV is similar to a resume in that it outlines your professional qualifications and history, but it does so with more detail by adding to the resume the detailed descriptions of your educational and/or professional experiences and personal information that may include nationality, date of birth, marital status, photograph, etc.

However, the term "Curriculum Vitae" most often called CV, typically carries a different meaning depending on whether one distribute the CV within the US, Canada or internationally (external to the US or Canada) or is seeking a faculty, academic, research, clinical or scientific position.

art tip Singapore CV writingThe aim of your CV or resume should be to persuade the employer to invite you for a job interview

For an employer the first impression of you is your CV. It must leave a favorable and lasting impact. You need to show that you are flexible, culturally sensitive, able to adapt to new circumstances and cultures, and that you possess some perseverance and motivation (for the job, not the location!). A successful CV is one that will appear in the most searches and generate the most interviews.

When applying for jobs in Singapore you may use English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil, depending on the company and your fluency. Stick to one language once chosen. However, you need to accept that not knowing the local language will put you at real disadvantage from the local job seekers. Many employers consider the basic knowledge of local language as necessary to cope with daily office life and life outside work.

English is the usual language of business and most business people speak it well. If you are submitting an English version only, it is helpful to duplicate in Malay, Mandarin or Tamil your name, contact address and local company names (if you already have some local work experience), unless you are certain that the recipient of your CV is an English speaker.

Targeting the job title of a position you applying for, write your CV in a short and professional style using keywords identified in the job posting and/or job description. The Applicant Tracking System’s scanners that are programmed to select specific words will notice these keywords.

Your concise, brief and to the point CV should be in a reverse-chronological order - starting with what you have done most recently or functional order - information structured per item. Emphasize experience and/or knowledge of Asia.

Employers in Singapore want to see in detail what you have done, who you have worked for, when you worked there and what your accomplishments were. The Singapore CV that covers a work history of 15 years or more could easily be up to four or more pages long. However, generally it should not exceed two pages of an A4-size paper.

Often, the first page of a CV features scanned in a simple, professional headshot photograph.

Begin the Singapore CV with your personal details listing name, address, and contact information including your telephone numbers, e-mail address, date of birth, nationality, race and gender. List this information in a “block” format, not on a single line.

Often CVs are kept on file for lengthy periods, so any contact details you give have to remain correct in the long term. Both Resident and Mobile phone numbers, with the international access code and e-mail address are most important.

After that, write an introduction that contains keywords of the position you are seeking. Define who you are in relation to skills and experience sought. This is a critical part of your CV as it is the first section a potential employer reads and it should portray you in the most relevant and professional light.

art remember Singapore CVRemember that your CV will form part of the script for the interviewer's questions

Next, write a “Career Objective” statement that contains keywords of the position you are seeking and no longer then two sentences. It is a brief and focused statement of what you can do and what you are looking for. Describe the job you are seeking and emphasize what you can bring to your prospective employer. This is a critical part of your CV, as potential employers will look here first before proceeding onto the rest of your CV. It should portray you in the most relevant and professional light.

Then, under “Professional Experience” present your working experiences, internships and special areas of expertise, etc. Bullet point them at the start of a sentence for maximum impact.

  • The time spent (From Date – To Date) at each particular position and the name of organization
  • Position held and job title
  • Thorough description of your responsibilities and duties - emphasizing areas relevant to the position for which you are applying. If you have not had much work experience, try including temporary, holiday or voluntary jobs. Indicate your reason(s) for leaving and explain gaps in employment.

Make your CV more effective by providing examples to illustrate your achievements. Use power words and action words such as contributed, organized, demonstrated, trained, managed, developed, coordinated etc.

Next, under “Military Experience” using civilian language list:

  • The time spent (From Date – To Date) and name of the unit,
  • Vocation held,
  • Duties requiring specific skills.

Follow with “Education”. Name the schools/institutions, locations, list programs/certificates/degrees. Add other information that supports your applications (e.g. scholarships, internships, training and specific courses related to your career objectives). Do not mislead, as employers will check.

  • Time spent (From Date – To Date),
  • Name of Tertiary Institution highest qualification attained
  • Time spent (From Date – To Date),
  • Name of Secondary School highest qualification received
  • Time spent (From Date – To Date),
  • Name of Primary School highest qualification achieved

Under “Other Skills”, show a potential employer your work-related skills and abilities. Include any other relevant training and all technical, computer, interpersonal, analytical, professional and other skills that match your target job and target company. Describe your level of oral and written knowledge of languages (English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil).

Next, in the “Co-curricular Activities” section list:

  • Time spent (From Date – To Date) and name of Society or Institution
  • Position held
  • Description of duties, Honors and Awards or Special Achievements

In “Affiliations” section, list any professional and/or community memberships and involvement in affiliations, associations of interest to employers:

  • Time spent (From Date – To Date) and name of Organization
  • Position held
  • Description of involvement or Special Achievements

After the above items, in the “Interests” section only include interests that you are actively pursuing and that you can speak credibly about during an interview. Do not include hobbies unless they are relevant to your Career Objective.

Finally close your CV with “References available on request”.  It is best to avoid putting references on your CV. Employers usually ask for references when they actually need them. This is strong indication that an employer is interested in you.

Discrimination laws are not as stringent in Singapore as they are elsewhere in the world and employers may request personal information including nationality, race, citizenship(s), marital status, date and place of birth or age, gender, religious affiliation, military service, visa status, residency rights etc.

Subsequently, carefully consider what to leave out of your CV and exclude anything that might give prospective employers a chance to discriminate against you. For example, if you are not married, it is not wise to mention that you “only” live together with a partner – it does not comply with the Muslim religion.

It is more common to apply for a job through the Internet. However, you should be aware that an electronic CV does not look the same as a printed one. Employers often scan CVs for an Applicant Tracking System, so make your CV scannable by avoiding for example lines, italic fonts etc. In addition, Microsoft Word format used to be the standard for sending in a CV, but this is no longer the case. Saving and sending it in a PDF format is a safer route, especially when applying for international positions.

Use the same font and style as your cover letter. Use a font that is easy to read such as 10 to 12 points Arial or Times New Roman. Computer print or typewrite your CV hard copies on white A4 format paper.

Always include cover letter with your CV, but never attach any official documents, like diplomas, certificates, testimonials of former employers, documentation of received awards and/or prizes, a record of your extracurricular activities, your passport or birth certificate, unless prospective employer requested them - if so, sent only copies.

Some large multinational companies use their own job application forms instead of cover letters and CVs. So, pay attention to the open questions that try to establish your social and transferable skills. Never leave any blank spaces. It is quite common in Asia to state the name, education level and job of your parents in an application form.

art tip Singapore CVIn recent years it become increasingly popular to join the LinkedIn or XING social networking websites for professionals, where you may search for jobs and have your keyword-optimized, rich content profile with current CV. Hiring managers use them more frequently to consult your profile and supplement or check against the CV you send along. If you do not have an account, create one and include your social media link(s) on your CV.
However, you should manage your online presence. You should eliminate any photos that could reflect poorly on you. From an employer’s point of view, someone who emphasizes partying on a social networking site is not focused on jobs and those who post complaints about work or colleagues are less desirable candidates. Online CVs should not include sensitive information as they could show lack of respect for confidentiality and discretion.

Check the spelling and grammar of your Singapore CV. Use the word processor's spell and grammar checker. If you are not confident of your ability to detect grammatical, punctuation and Spanish or other language usage errors or if you need help in organizing your CV, send it to a professional for assistance.

art_remember Singapore CVRemember that your Singapore CV must be targeted, scannable and generate hits. If you have a difficulty with your CV writing, instead of staring at a blank piece of paper, use CV samples or:

art_tip Singapore CV

We recommend that you send your CV together with a cover letter. If you have a difficulty with your cover letter writing use:

Other Singapore CV Info

If your Singapore cover letter and Singapore CV are ready, distribute them through the job search services to your prospective employers. When your Singapore job search have been successful apply for the Singapore visa with Singapore work permit and start preparing for the Singapore job interview.

Check the job interview tips do's and don'ts, and find out why people are not hired for available jobs.

In addition, on the international info, job search, visa, work permit, cover letter, CV & resume, job interview and dress code pages you will find many useful tips for overseas job seekers.

Good luck with your Singapore CV.


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