By Mia Casey
It’s hard to find anyone who actively enjoys writing a resume. It’s often a stressful and intimidating process that most only undertake a handful of times throughout their careers. Fear not! A large part of what stumps people when it comes to crafting their resumes is uncertainty, and this is easily overcome. Read on for a few comprehensive pieces of advice on writing the perfect resume, and discover what resources are available to you in your resume-writing journey!
Like it or not, formatting plays a large part in how your resume is perceived. If you submit a CV that lacks clear section structure, has no subheadings, and is overly verbose, it can easily be overlooked. So, taking time to apply a standardised format to your CV is definitely important. Below are some easy elements you can incorporate to make you resume come across as professional!
First, your resume shouldn’t really be longer than 2 to 3 pages in length for student or graduate level. If you’re a postgraduate or mature age student with more experience than the standard undergraduate, the 2 to 3 pages should still be enough as it will mean cutting down on any unnecessary or less relevant information.
Secondly, you should use an easy to read font, such as Helvetica, for the whole of your resume – for most jobs, a fancy font won’t win you any favours. For the main content of your resume, outside of headings, text should be in size 10-12. (Check out this website for great fonts to use on your resume).
Thirdly, your name should be at the top of the first page and in the largest font on your resume. Under this, list your contact details in a smaller font. In Australia, you do not need to include any personal details such as gender, health, height, weight, marital status, age, or any other identifying information outside of your name and contact details. Employers cannot discriminate based on any of these elements, so they need not be included.
Finally, you should use subheadings under which to note your experience. You’ll want sections listing your education, employment history, other experience (such as volunteer work), technical skills (if the job calls for any sort of computer or industry-specific skills), interests and extra-curricular activities (if you have space, and is relevant), as well as your referees. Listing these sections in the above order is advised. It’s also a good idea to use dot-points when giving details in each of these sections – not lengthy sentences or paragraphs. Potential employers will likely be reviewing multiple applications and will overlook resumes that look like essays.
As mentioned above, you should omit any irrelevant information such as photos of yourself, your date of birth, gender, or any other details that could be unnecessarily discriminatory. Australian resumes do not require anything more than your contact details, by way of personal information.
If you’re a mature age or postgraduate student, you may have had many previous jobs or experiences that range in relevancy for whatever position you are applying for. It is only necessary to refer to your experiences that meet the job’s criteria – telling employers about your time working at Kmart when you were 15 or what primary school you went to, is less relevant than detailing your time as an IT Consultant and your relevant areas of study when applying for a job in the IT industry.
If you haven’t had many, or any, jobs in the past that’s okay too! Many students don’t enter the workforce until late in their high school careers or at some point during university. If this is the case, think of any extracurricular activities or volunteer work you have completed. Editing the student magazine, volunteering for events, or providing support to charities over holiday periods are all great examples of situations where you can highlight your skills and accomplishments without having necessarily completed paid work. Detailing any awards or achievements is also a good idea when trying to highlight your abilities!
If any of your accomplishments can be referred to using numbers and statistics (eg. You helped your previous company increase its sales by X% during your time there, or you volunteered by helping coordinate an event for X amount of people, etc) then do it! It’s an easy way to make your achievements come across more solidly and shows that your input had a quantifiable benefit to your last employer.
As you’re writing the content of you CV, refer back to the selection criteria mentioned in the job advertisement and utilise any key words or phrases that are relevant to your own experience. Did you show leadership in your previous job, and this is a skill required for the one you are applying for? Mention it, and say how you did so!
Language and grammar
An easy mistake to make, especially when stressed out in trying to submit an application on a deadline, is forgetting to look for grammar and spelling errors. Regardless of the job you are applying for, Australian employers generally want employees with good attention to detail and a successful grasp of the English language. Missing a few misspelt words or bits of punctuation might not seem like much, but it could mean the difference between getting called in for an interview or not hearing back at all. If you feel like you might need support with your writing, it could be a good idea to drop by the UTS:HELPS office at the UTS Tower Building, Level 5, Room 25 (CB01.05.25) for assistance.
It’s also a good idea that, if your experience or skills involve references to technical acronyms, to write these terms out in full the first time you mention them in your CV (eg. High Definition Video (HDV)). Following this, you can refer to the acronym throughout the rest of your resume.
Make sure to use the appropriate tenses for the experiences you are mentioning (ie. Past tense for previous experiences), and use action verbs when describing your responsibilities where possible. For example: ‘Organised a company event for upwards of 1000 people, and showed time management skills by supervising the efficient distribution of event invitations’.
If you can, get someone else to read over your resume before you submit it, to pick up on any errors you may have missed!
UTS:Careers has a number of fantastic resources available to you when it comes to writing a successful resume. On our website, you can find a clear breakdown of the sections your resume should include and how it should be formatted. You can also take advantage of this super helpful resume checklist that can help you ensure you haven’t overlooked anything or made any serious resume faux pas!
If you want some more detailed advice, visit our office in the Tower Building (CB01.04.13) and take advantage of our Drop-in service, where one of our enthusiastic Careers staff can review your resume with you and give you the key advice needed for your resume to be a success! Additionally, you can register for one of our Back to Basics –Resume Writing workshops and learn how to structure your resume and target the job you’re applying for to help it stand out from the crowd!
So what are you waiting for? Craft that perfect resume and get ready to kick-start your new career journey today!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels