What is a resume?
A resume is a written document that advertises your work experience and educational background. It is a self-marketing tool designed to demonstrate that you have the desired skills sought after for a particular position and ensure you are invited to an interview. You are the product and your resume is your advertisement!
To market your skills effectively, your resume should be tailored to meet the criteria of each position you apply for.
There is no 'correct' way to write a resume. The type and order of headings you choose will depend on the position you are applying for. Make sure you choose an appropriate layout and order headings and content in a way that will best promote your skills and experience.
The Dos and Don'ts
A resume should be:
A resume should NOT:
The most popular resume format is the chronological format. In a chronological format, information is structured in reversed chronological order (current or most recent things first), bringing the most important pieces of information to the top.
A resume generally includes the following sections:
Include your name as the heading of the document (do not write 'Resume' at the top). Directly underneath your name, include the following:
Note: You do not need to include your marital status, religion, date of birth (DOB), or a personal photo
A career summary is a brief paragraph (3-5 sentences) outlining why you would be a good fit for the position. State how you intend to use your skills, knowledge, and experience to meet your long-term goals. Look at keywords used within the position criteria of the job advertisement and create statements that demonstrate your capability to meet the requirements of the job. Prioritise statements with the most relevant coming first, and end with a statement about what you are looking for.
A career summary contains 3 core elements:
Note: This section is optional.
Skills and Competencies
The aim of this section is to briefly outline your key skills relevant to the position. To select the correct skills, consult the selection criteria.
Statements could take the form of a brief heading, e.g. "Leadership Skills", with a short summary under each relevant heading. Alternatively, skills could be presented in a list.
This section needs to include a list of current and previous job roles. A chronological resume lists these roles in reverse order, starting with your current or most recent employer. Include all relevant part-time, casual and voluntary work as well as full-time employment.
For each position, include:
Note: Include less detailed information for jobs held a long time ago. You only need to give a detailed account for your current and most recent position held.
Education & Qualifications
This section outlines your formal qualifications. List all tertiary, secondary and other qualifications that you have completed. For each qualification, include:
Other optional inclusions:
Note: Many people prefer to include this section before Employment History. However, many employers put more weight on work experience so prefer to see this section after the Employment History.
Training & Professional Development
This section is for any other relevant training and development activities you have completed. If you have attended any short courses relevant to the position you are applying for, list these and provide:
Note: Only include recent training and professional development. Any short courses completed more than 10 years ago are unlikely to have much value in the current market-place.
Memberships & Associations
If you are a member of any relevant professional associations, e.g. Associate member of CPA Australia, list these here.
Hobbies & Interests
This section is optional. However, some employers are interested in finding out more about you as a person and how your interests and the skills developed from these activities may be useful in the workplace. Just remember, your interests say a lot about you so make sure what you list is appropriate and that they indicate you are a well-rounded person. Be genuine as you may be asked to talk about your interests in an interview.
Referees are people who are willing to testify confidentially on your behalf. Referees should be individuals who have recently supervised or managed you, and who you can rely on to give an accurate and fair account of your skills and abilities. Generally, two or three referees are sufficient. Always seek the agreement of a referee before listing their details.
Details of your referees can be added to your resume. Ensure to include:
It is also possible to only provide details of your referees once they have been requested. If you do not wish to include your referees list on your resume, include a statement such as "Referees available upon request" at the bottom of your resume.
The rationale for this is that electronic versions of your resume can easily be sent to people other than those you have intended and your referees may not want to provide references to every person who receives a copy of your resume.
Online Resume Builders
Get all the help you need to create the perfect resume using the following links.
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Easy to use resume builder with job-specific resume examples, templates, and tips.
Easy to use builder with free resume templates, resume samples, resume examples and more.
A detailed explanation of resume writing from the University of Sydney's Careers Centre.
Check out these 5 common mistakes to makes sure you avoid them!
9 skills to consider adding on your resume.