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Asian finance recruiters offer savvy tips to save your CV from disaster during Covid-19

If you are looking for a banking job in Singapore or Hong Kong right now, you may find it slightly easier than back in March and April when hiring freezes were in full swing. In Singapore, banks like DBS, OCBC and UBS have recently announced new recruitment drives, and the Hong Kong job market has picked up a bit as people return to the office.

Nevertheless, both cities are in recession and continue to experience new cases of Covid-19. Job searching is still much more difficult than before the pandemic – and that means your resume really has to stand out to get noticed by recruiters.

How can you change your CV to make it more relevant in the age of Covid-19? We spoke to several senior finance recruiters in Asia to get some tips.

Show that you are ready for video interviews

Most interviews in Singapore and Hong Kong are still being held via Zoom or other video conference systems. “So be seen as video-interview ready, and put your respective video IDs into your resume,” says Marie Tay, managing director of search firm The Resolute Hunter.

State that you are willing to take a contract role

As we reported in May, banks in Asia are taking on more contractors as their hiring budgets get cut. When you first contact a recruiter, it’s important to include a statement on your CV that you are open to contract positions, says Tay. “This shows flexibility, and a contract will probably lead to an eventual offer of a permanent role when the macro environment turns more bullish,” she adds.

Focus on how you coped with the crisis

Your CV needs to reflect how you have “brought your best to the table during this crisis”, says Alex Martin, manager of financial services at Robert Walters. “For leaders, this could be highlighting what they have done to engage, retain and develop their teams to maintain high performance. For front-office job seekers, this could be sharing innovative strategies to continue their business development and client engagement,” says Martin.

Highlight how adaptable you are

If you have any examples of how you have been adaptable and flexible in your job over the past few months, be sure to add them to you resume. “Other than technical skills, the top trait banks are looking for is adaptive thinking. They want solution-oriented candidates, given the fast-changing remote-working landscape,” says Emily Tan, executive director of financial services at Kerry Consulting.

Make your new digital skills more prominent on your CV

“Employers are looking for candidates with digital exposure. People who have used the past few months  to upskill themselves or obtain professional qualifications in tech or digital-related courses are in demand as they’ve demonstrated their preparedness and their drive to learn,” says Lim Chai Leng, senior director, banking and financial services, at Randstad.

Including an expected salary could backfire

Banks in Singapore and Hong Kong are more cost conscious than ever, and will be quick to eliminate CVs that state salary expectations exceeding their budgets, says Tay. “Salary negotiations should be ideally managed later in the recruitment process. Moreover, stating salary expectations upfront on your CV can sometimes send an unfavorable message that you’re too money motivated,” she adds.

Achievements matter more than ever now

Most banks in Asia have cut back their hiring during Covid-19, so the people they are taking on now tend to be high achievers. “To stand out, candidates must highlight significant achievements in their past roles that pertain to their own contribution and value-add to the organisation. I’ve seen many recent instances where candidates have listed only their responsibilities without taking ownership for achievements,” says Cain Yee, financial services lead at Morgan McKinley.

Make your resume as understandable as possible

As you tweak your resume to the current job market by doing all of the above, make sure it has a “clean structure”, says Claudia Dumitru, a manager at Hudson. Your CV should make it easy for a busy recruiter or hiring manager to understand your achievements and main areas of expertise. Having an executive summary, followed by core areas of expertise, will make the message clear, says Dumitru. “At times, senior banking candidates struggle to choose what information they should include, and they add too much detail. By doing so, they risk making it too difficult to assess what they have achieved in their past roles,” she adds.

Photo by Arya Pratama on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: or Telegram: @simonmortlock. You can also follow me on LinkedIn.

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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