Perfecting your resume


A resume is a summary of your work experience and education as a portfolio for you to showcase your skills to a potential employer, think of it as a marketing tool rather than a report. A perfect resume is succinct and grabs the reader’s attention by demonstrating that you are the right person to do a particular job.

Whilst a resume should be an individual reflection of you, there are some general rules to follow and standards items to include:

General rules:

  • Your resume should be between two and four pages in length.
  • Use appropriate font and font size
  • Use dot points. They will improve readability and assist you to be brief and concise.
  • There is no need to include a list of subjects and results. Attach a copy of your academic transcript if this detail is required.
  • Provide more detail on the roles you have held that are related to the job you are applying for.
  • Always check for spelling and grammatical errors It is a good idea to have someone else check over it for you.
  • Be honest, statements made in resumes will be checked up in either the interview or with referees.
  • Do not omit any period of employment for whatever reason, as this may prove awkward at interview.
  • If emailing your resume use a common program such as PDF – if it can’t be opened easily, it probably won’t get read.
  • Avoid acronyms and jargon, write in plain English so you are understood clearly.
  • Don’t forget to include appropriate interests and hobbies as well as any associations/membership organisations you belong to. This gives an employer insight into your life outside of work.
  • Don’t forget a cover letter – best practice is to include a cover letter with every application.

Standard Sections to include in your resume:

Name (include preferred name if applicable)

Contact details (at a minimum include your telephone number and email)

Career Objective or Statement

A career objective or statement provides the reader with an understanding of what drives you and where you see your career taking you. The career statement is also an ideal time to summarise what you can offer a potential employer.

Key Skills

Your key skills should be reflected in your responsibilities or achievements. Otherwise they may appear to be unsubstantiated claims.

Qualifications (in reverse chronological order).

Include the name of your degree, the institution and the year completed or due completion.

Employment History (in reverse chronological order)

Include company name, the dates you worked and the position you held.  You may also wish to include a brief description of the company eg. XYZ manufactures chemicals for hospitals, including a link to their website is another option.

For each position held you should provide details of:

Your responsibilities: What you did in the organisation. Give an indication of the scope of the role

Any achievements: Include successful projects, initiatives, how you added value. Quantify your achievements or outcomes (with numbers or percentages) where possible.

Additional Details

Also include relevant further information such as residential status (visa type held if appropriate), language skills, computing skills (highlight engineering packages), community work, short courses attended, professional memberships, hobbies and interests.

NOTE: It is not necessary to include extensive personal detail such as date of birth, marital status and names and ages of children.

Referees

It’s more common now for the names of referees to be given out on request, this gives you the opportunity to brief the referees first. If you prefer to list them, do so but make sure they know. Always seek permission to use someone as a referee, just because you worked for them doesn’t mean they have to be a referee for you.  Choose people who are supportive of you and were in a position to comment on your skills, experience and achievements. Ensure you have up to date contact details for your referees including current job title, telephone numbers and email address.