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How to write a resume

Written by: Monica Xu, with contributions from Tina Souksamrane

Working as administrators and support staff at a recruitment company, we have collectively seen our fair share of good and bad resumes. So today, we want to share with you how to write a resume if you're searching for a job in Australia.

Resumes come to recruitment companies like ours from all across the world, and each country has its own style of writing. However, if you're seeking work in Australia, there is some information that is required and some that are not. So here we break down from beginning to end a standard Australian resume format that should help you craft a complete resume. Keep in mind that you can use this guide to help you write a resume for the Australian market, whether you're a citizen or looking for work while on a working holiday visa.

1. Personal details - who, how, where?

Your personal details' section should be simple and to the point. There are three questions recruiters will need answers to when they refer back to this section of your resume.

Who are we calling? - Make sure to include your full name or preferred name, so recruiters (or hiring managers) can identify you when they call.

How do we get into contact? - Include your mobile number and email address. These are essential for the recruiter to get into contact with you. Make sure you double (triple) check that the details are correct.

Where does this person live? - Should you include your address? There are benefits and downsides to including your address, in our opinion. On the recruiter's end, we can say that making the initial contact is the priority over knowing where you live. And for later HR purposes, it's helpful not to have to go back and find missing information. However, postcode discrimination is a phenomenon that does occur in the job market. So you may find it to your benefit that you hold off on providing your address until the phone interview or in-person interview stage.

For example:

Resume img 1


2. Start with a personal summary or objective

A personal summary is a short opening paragraph. Personal summaries, and career objectives, should be no longer than a paragraph long. Things to include in your personal summary include your professional experience, your future work goals, why you're interested in applying for the role, why you want to break into this industry and your skills.

A career objective should also be similarly short but an objective gives you space to talk about your career aim and where you see yourself working in the future. It acts as a good introduction and gives the recruiter a good glimpse into your long term goals.

And if your experience doesn't match up to the role you're applying for, the career objective or personal summary you include is a great way for you to explain to the person reading why you've chosen to change careers.

For example:

Resume img 2


3. Employment experience

List your newest work experience first. Many people put their oldest experience first but listing your most recent experience gives the recruiter a better sense of where you are and where you want to go professionally.

Your recent work experience is more relevant and will help you stand out.

Seeing your oldest job in this section can throw recruiters off and give them the wrong impression. And for this section, we encourage you to use the same tried and true format and NOT go against the grain. When you list your oldest job, the recruiter will see your first role and you will appear more junior and less experienced than you actually are. They may even miss reading your newest experience if it's listed all the way at the bottom.

Remember to use dot points. Hiring managers and recruiters go through many resumes a day. When you use dot points it signals to the reader that the writing is direct and to the point. For skim readers, it also means they're more likely to engage with the content.

For example:

Resume img 3


4. Education

Some candidates like to include dot points of the classes they took, or highlight their achievements in a course. For a basic layout of this section, a brief description can be informative but we advocate for a basic, clean copy. Keep it simple. Write your highest attained qualification first. Include the year/s you finished the qualification, the school and the city where the school is located. 

For example:

Resume img 4


5. Extracurriculars

Now we would argue this section is not wholly necessary but it falls into the category of personalisation. It separates you from other resumes and allows you to show your unique accomplishments to the recruiter.

Achievements: If you were recognised as a high achiever in academics or sports then include it in this section. Remember to include the award name, which organisation the award came from, and year you obtained it.

Volunteering: This is a good place to showcase your activities outside of work, and shows the recruiter the community initiatives you're involved in.

Hobbies: Keep it to a shortlist, but it may prove useful as an interview icebreaker and help personalise you. Not to mention it would be a useful section to include if your hobbies are relevant to the field you want to enter. It's not the hobbies section which will get you the job but as with everything in the extracurricular section, it helps to paint a clearer picture of yourself to the hirer.

For example:

Resume img 5


6. Referee details

It's optional if you want to disclose your referees' details at this point or simply say 'referees available on request.' Some people prefer to keep referee details private until they pass the interview stage. The advantage of listing the contact details is that it can show you're well connected if you work in an industry that emphasizes networking. If your referee is a senior manager at your previous company, listing their name can help show the recognition you've achieved. 

For this section write the full name of your referee, the company you both worked at, and their preferred method of contact. As a recruitment company, we'd suggest including both email and phone details. Email is useful for when HR and recruiters need to verify your contact's identity. And taking a reference over the phone is still the preferred method for recruiters so a mobile number is always handy. For most roles, a minimum of two referees is q

For example:

Resume img 6


Use a simple format so that viewers can easily read your resume and structure it so that they can find the most relevant details about your experience without problems.

Here are our top 4 recommended fonts to use in your resume:

  • Times New Roman

  • Calibri

  • Arial

  • Garamond

And some last reminders - keep your resume to 2 - 3 pages maximum. Write in dot points and write well. Edit your work!

Let us know if you found this guide helpful. We love hearing your feedback. 

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