When you start writing your resume, it is important to realise that it is a selling tool. Your goal is to “sell” yourself to an employer so that you can secure an interview. The reality is that the employer is buying and has a choice, you or someone else!

It is also true that the average time spent on the first reading of any resume is less than one minute. Resumes are often the first point of contact and so a first impression is created when your resume is read.

Here are some basic golden rules for you to follow:

  • Keep the appearance clean, professional and easy to read. Lots of white space.
  • Be consistent in typeface and format.
  • Be honest, they will always find out the truth.
  • KISS – Keep It Straight & Simple

How you compose your resume conveys to an employer your feelings, attitudes and self-perception. An employer looks for:

  • A positive attitude and potential.
  • Abilities relating to the area of employment.
  • Evidence of commitment.
  • Leadership Qualities.
  • Ability to show initiative through thinking processes and problem solving capabilities.
  • Willingness to learn

Keep these in mind if you are preparing your own resume. Among other things, regardless of the stage of your career, you need a resume. A current resume is necessary to respond to sudden opportunities and to unexpected changes.

A resume should typically be reviewed regularly. This is a document that needs to grow and stay with you for the rest of your working life. However your resume should also be flexible and change to the meet the requirements of the prospective employer.

If sending your resume by email:

  • Check the spelling (in Australian)
  • Is your email address suitable for a job application?
  • Check how it appears to the recipient by sending it to yourself first.
  • A PDF format ensures that the reader will read it in the format and layout that you intended it to be read- regardless of the Operating system of the recipient!

Standard resume format is:

Personal Details
Need to be on the first page of the resume. Include your postal address and contact numbers. Make sure your email address is suitable for job applications, i.e. an address that portrays you as a professional so avoid using ‘nick names’. Create a specific email account just for this purpose if necessary.

Some educational qualifications may seem irrelevant to the job for which you are applying, but it is important to list your previous studies. The level of detail given depends on the balance between how much study you have done and how much professional experience you have.

Relevant Industry Training
When applying for a specific job, it is important that you advertise that fact that you have relevant industry training. The training is accredited and recognised and therefore of great interest to the employer. Remember, it could come down to Qualified vs.Unqualified.

Computer Skills
In today’s technology age, it is important that you can demonstrate an ability to use computers. If you have experience with industry specific packages include them in your resume. General computer skills also need to be identified. You may wish to evaluate the level of your skills, i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced, and list this next to the relevant programs. Do not include courses you did years ago that are rusty!

Professional Experience / Skills
This area of your resume needs to be organised, structured, and easy to read. A good structure would list;

  • Commencement and Finish dates (month – year)
  • Most Recent position first
  • Name of the company
  • Position held
  • A Description of your duties and responsibilities. The description should portray action. List your achievements for the job, giving yourself some value by using verbs like Assisting, Processing, Co-ordinating or Organising.

Very importantly – Do not be vague about dates or leave gaps, they will be found out.

Achievements are one of the most important parts of your resume. They indicate growth and professional development and show that you can be a valuable employee. Remember, it is important to quantify the importance of the achievement for the duties performed.

Hobbies and Interests are worthwhile listing as they can indicate what kind of activities you enjoy, a solitary hobby or a team sport. This will enable an employer to decide if you fit their employment slot, a good team player or someone who enjoys autonomy and works best on their own.

Contact details for references have become more important than letters. Make sure that you check with your referees before including them on your resume. As a general rule, new employers will not make a reference check until they have selected their preferred candidate or at least have the selection down to one or two. It has become current practice to not include referee details in your resume, rather, provide them on request. This enables you to maintain control of the process.

In summary, your resume is your introduction to a potential employer. It is an image of you as a professional in the workforce. Design it as you would like to be perceived.