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Tips on Writing a Resume

A resum� is a sales document designed to win you the interview. Keep in mind it is not necessarily the best applicant who ultimately wins the job, but the person who can present themselves in the best possible light.
When writing your resum� you need to ask yourself the following:

* Do I know enough about myself to be able to compile a resum�? In other words, am I clear on what skills and specific areas of knowledge I am 'selling' an employer.
* How do I wish to present myself to an employer and what image am I trying to project? What skills should I emphasise? What information should I include and why?
* How should I organise my information? What headings should I use?
* Is a functional resum� more appropriate than a chronological? Do I know the difference?
* How can I minimise my weaknesses?
* Which format should I use? Keeping in mind that the most important and relevant information should be on the first page.

A resum� is an individual sales document and as such, it is more than simply a summary of chronological events.

* There is no one formula for resum� writing uniquely required by all employers.
* A resum� maximises strengths and minimises weaknesses.
* Presentation, content and format are important.
* Good use of spacing makes the resum� easier to read.
* Less is more! No more than three pages.
* Tell what is relevant, omit the irrelevant.
* A resum� needs to be tailored according to each position.

Before writing your resum�, you need to:

1. Find out as much as possible about the job.
2. Find out as much as possible about the company/organisation.
3. Analyse the job requirements.
4. Analyse your skills and match/compare these with the job requirements.

Resum� writing is a skill itself

can take a great deal of time and preparation to write a good resum�. Once you have mastered the skill you will be able to change your resum� as required.
The following information is specifically designed to help you construct your perfect resum�.

With the employer in mind, you should construct you resum� using positive action verbs and phrases that promote you skills and minimises potential problems. The following is an example of the sort of information a resum� should contain:
Name (Full name)

If this allows any doubt about your gender, put in your title. A phonetic pronunciation (in brackets) is useful if your name is difficult to pronounce!

Full address with postcode.
Telephone numbers

Include home phone number or a number where you can be reached during the day. Alternatively, leave the number of a reliable friend or family member for messages.
Marital status

Not necessary to include in a resum�. Remember in Australia it is illegal to discriminate against race, religion, ethnicity and marital status and age.
Date of birth

Despite whatever anti-discrimination legislation may dictate, it is customary to include your date of birth. Employers can easily calculate your age from when you completed your secondary education and may be distracted by having to calculate you age!

This information can either be included in a section 'Personal details', or alternatively you can simply centre this in a small block at the top of the first page. eg.

Fred Jobseeker
27 Worker Pde. Jobsville, 3005
Telephone 9905 3000
D.O.B. 27/4/'76

If you are a recent university graduate (or almost graduate), state clearly your university course, date of completion (or expected date of completion). Highlight academic achievements. It is not necessary to list every single to list every single subject and the result. Employers much prefer to see a copy of your academic transcript attached to the resum�.

If you are a secondary school student, highlight academic achievements, including any awards.

It is more impressive to include academic highlights or a brief synopsis of a project for which you received an excellent grade, than a list of subjects which may include several passes and even a fail. Why bring these to an employer's attention on the very first page!

Remember, Tertiary Education first!

Include secondary education, dates to and from, name of course completed and the school attended. Additionally, include any notable achievements. Some employers like to know the subjects you have studied and the result as it forms a baseline for academic potential.

Extracurricular activities

Employers are keen to know if you participate in university and school life, particularly in clubs and societies. Include dates, as employers are also keen to know the length of your involvement. Include any positions of responsibility and duties where appropriate. You can include extracurricular activities as a sub-heading of secondary and tertiary education, unless you have several to include. In the case it may deserve a separate section.

Professional membership

If you are a student member of a professional association it is useful to include this in a seperate section under this heading.

Skills summary

This section may be included after Education, depending on the extent of your experience. Think about what you want to emphasise to the employer and about the job you are applying for. What are the key strengths required to do this job well? What is the employer looking for? Then think about the skills you have gained through study, part-time work, voluntary work or even through interests that may be relevant to this position. You can include skills as single points or alternatively group them into sections such as 'organisational skills', 'computer skills' or 'leadership skills' for example. Don't forget languages.
Work experience

Like Education, this section needs to be in reverse chronological order, ie. most recent job first. Include dates to and from, the name of the company, your job title, whether it was part-time, casual or vacation employment.

Outline your duties using brief statements. Remember to use those positive action verbs! Include any particular achievements or new initiatives for which you were responsible. If you have extensive course related work experience, include this as a seperate section, possible before other employment.

Leisure interests

Employers are keen to know that you are a well rounded human being who has other interests apart from working. Be careful not to include too many as you run the risk of being perceived as too busy to work! Find a happy medium. If you list reading, specify what you like to read. If you have any sporting achievements that you are proud of, they could be included here.


Include to least two referees. One or two academic and one or two work referees. Avoid using personal referees, as employers know that they will only give you a glowing reference. Make sure you ask your referees whether they are prepared to give you a reference before you include them on your resum�. Also ask them what they will say about you. If you obtain a duty statement or job description, give you referees a copy, it will make it easier for them to talk about in reference to the position you are applying for.


Your resum� needs to be neat, easy to read, and well set out on A4-size paper. Choose a font and font size that is easy to read. Use bold, italics and CAPITALS to highlight information. As employers skim resum�s in only 2-3 minutes, make sure you have easily identifiable groups of information, ie. bite size chunks. Keep your resum� no longer than 3 pages.
References to assist you.

There are volumes of information available on resum� writing. Be selective, use the information available in a careers library as a guide. You can obtain ideas on setting out, how to group information together and even how to express skills.

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