Writing a Resume
Your resume is the first thing that an employer evaluates in the recruitment process. It’s important that it reflects your education, skills, experience, work history and accomplishments.
A general rule is to keep your resume to two pages.
You may think that your resume is about you and your experience, but it’s really not. Your resume is a tool that answers the question, ‘how can this person add value to my team?’.
As is true in any written communication, you need to know your audience and speak to them.
What type of resumes do employers want to receive?
The three most common resume formats are; reverse chronological, hybrid, and digital.
This is the most commonly used format for resumes. In this format you document your information in a timeline format that highlights your career and education in a simple and chronological order. You start with your most recent position and work backwards.
If you have a long history or many positions it will be necessary to highlight the most important items.
This format is used if you are looking at a career change or entering the workforce, or maybe re-entering the workforce after a period of time.
In this format you document valuable work experience and key accomplishments. You would also include a summary of competencies and accomplishments first and then move on to include a chronological summary of work experience.
A digital resume is one that is maximised to comply with online submissions and applicant tracking software (ATS).
A digital resume is in a simple text font with limited graphics and most importantly is maximised with the right ‘key-words’. (Hint: use the language that the employer used in their job ad).
Having a well formatted, well written resume will help your application stand out and demonstrates your value to a prospective employer.
Be concise. Use brief statements in the form of bullet points or sentences. Avoid using long paragraphs.
Keep font size to 10, 11 or 12 point. Use a basic font like Arial, avoid using cursive or a creative text.
Use past tense in describing past positions and use present tense for your current position(s).
Be consistent in your use of punctuation throughout the document. For example: use ‘full stops’ at the end of all your bullet points, or don’t use them at all.
Use headings, bold, italics and underlining to break up the text and make the document easy to read.
Ensure you refrain from adding irrelevant information. For example: don’t add primary level education, work experience or short placements that don’t provide any great advantage to your application.
For more detailed notes on resume formatting, check out this document.
Sometimes it is beneficial to tailor your resume for different jobs. For example: you may wish to have one for an Administration role and one for a more customer service-based role. This allows you to highlight skills and achievements and weight things towards a particular role.
Some recruitment tools now use automated word recognition to match your resume to a particular vacancy. So, ensure you use the right language that relates to that field or industry. Use keywords.
Do not lie, exaggerate, or include something that you would not want to discuss in an interview.
Avoid jargon and acronyms.
Not all employers will fully understand assistive technology or terminology. You should be prepared to explain how some of these technologies assist you at work.
Do not include overly personal data unless it is a requirement of the application. For example, date of birth, marital status or photograph. If you are applying for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander identified position or a junior role it may be necessary to disclose some personal data.
References and Referees
A reference is a written statement about your character and work. A professional reference is from a person who can speak to your qualifications for a job. A professional reference should know you in a work-related capacity. He or she is typically a former employer, a colleague, a client, a vendor, a supervisor, or someone else who can recommend you for employment.
A referee is someone who will act as a point of reference and can speak to a potential employer, provide information about your skills, experience and work behaviours. They may be asked to answer questions that will help determine your suitability to employment. Usually a potential employer will move to speak with a referee soon after an interview and if moving to the next phase of recruitment.
You don’t always need to include referees on your resume as these can change and you may need to use different people for different roles. But ensure that you have had conversations with people who will act as referees so you can quickly call on them if required.
Selecting a Referee
A referee can make or break your employment opportunity, so it’s important that when selecting a person to act as a referee you consider the following:
- They know your recent and relevant employment. It may be difficult to provide a current employer or supervisor, but choose some from a recent job.
- They can speak about your skills, experiences, strengths and developmental areas.
- They can be supportive, objective and they think highly of you. Choose people who have witnessed your successes and can give feedback to your ability and potential.
Stick to professional referees. However, if you are new to employment or have been out of the workforce for a period, you may need to use teachers or academic contacts, a community leader, work experience providers, or a strong personal contact.
Choose someone who can communicate well and is able to sell you to an employer.
Talk to them about your use of assistive technology, how you navigate new workplaces, and your achievements to remind them so they can mention these things to an employer.
It’s very important that you have your referees ready and let them know that you are currently applying for work. Sending them an email after a job interview and letting them know what the position was and to possibly expect a call will prepare them for a phone call.
If you choose not to have referees on your resume have their email and phone contacts easily accessible to pass onto the employer.
Make sure you thank your referees and let them know the outcomes of your job search.
Links and online profiles
You may wish to add links in your resume. This can include links to your previous work, any published work or articles. If you are adding these ensure that they are relevant to the position.
You may wish to include a link to your LinkedIn profile. If you do, ensure that it is up to date and that any online activity you have engaged in is appropriate and relevant.
Other handy tips
Ask someone you trust to review your resume. Check it for formatting, readability, spelling, grammar and graphics.
Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments and achievements. Most jobs or roles are quite self-explanatory, so you won’t need to focus on tasks or responsibilities. But instead share the recognition, awards, and achievements that you made or received in your roles.
If the role requires specific qualifications ensure that you have your certifications handy, in electronic format that you can send to an employer easily.
Review your resume often. It may be necessary as technology advances or as new things happen in the employment space that the language you use is updated so that it reflects the here and now.
Here are a couple of resume examples that you can adapt if you need a hand getting started: