The smart way to gain entry into the corporate world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am

THE SIXTEEN STUDENT finalists of the ACCA Hong Kong Job-hunting Competition are now better prepared for their dream job, thanks to the career planning workshop held at the beginning of the month.

The workshop was designed to enhance the students' skills and knowledge of resume preparation, interview techniques, public speaking and language proficiency.

The day began with a comprehensive career programme presented by two recruitment experts from Michael Page International. Preparing an effective resume was the first topic.

'The purpose of a [resume] is to get yourself an interview. It is your personal marketing document in which you differentiate yourself from the other applicants,' said Howard Chan, consultant, finance, Michael Page.

A resume should include details of academic achievements and social awards, internships or summer jobs and language skills. It is also important to mention details of extra-curricular activities and hobbies. 'I would also suggest that students include a career goal. It demonstrates ambition,' Mr Chan said.

Regardless of whether a resume is general or job specific, it should have a maximum length of two pages and have a clean and precise format. The information should be presented in bullet points to make it easy to read.

According to the experts from Michael Page, one of the most common mistakes people make in writing their resumes is to list the oldest information first and the latest data last. In fact, it should be the reverse. Other typical mistakes include inappropriate selection and non-consolidation of achievements and awards, and using abbreviations that are not immediately obvious.

Next on the agenda was preparing for a successful interview. The students were divided into two groups and each student was given a typical question to answer in a mock interview with no preparation.

The experts gave the students constructive comments, such as advising them not to speak too quietly or monotonously, and to focus on and discuss what they could bring to the company, not what the firm could provide them.

Eric Cheng, a disc jockey with Metro Radio, kicked off the afternoon with a discussion on effective public speaking. He said it was important to be calm when speaking in public and advised the students to arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before an engagement.

'It is also necessary to speak at a slow pace, with a clear voice at a proper volume, while using correct posture, which shows confidence. Pause between points to arouse the audience's attention,' Mr Cheng said.

Being bilingual or multilingual is increasingly necessary in the competitive business environment and it is one way to stand out. ACCA invited Andrea Zavadszky, editor, Classified Post, to provide the final 16 with some tips for learning a language.

According to Ms Zavadszky, it is important to be proactive when learning a second or third language, supplementing classroom learning through a variety of ways. For example, when watching television or a DVD, write down some of the key words, look them up in a dictionary, and then try to write two or three sentences using the new words. If possible, have a teacher or native speaker correct them.

'This will make sure you learn them in context and it also improves recall better than just simple word repetition,' she said.

Reading was also a good tool for understanding context.

'Also make sure you figure out the most appropriate learning method which works for you. For example, some people remember better when they hear something, while others need to see it written down. Finally, it is easy to forget what you learnt, so keep practising,' Ms Zavadszky said.