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A resume is your chance to present all of the information that proves that you have the required skills and experience for the job. Writing an effective resume takes time - you need to ensure that you have included all the desired information clearly and concisely.

Objectives

When writing your resume, remember that its purpose is to persuade an employer to consider you for the position over the other applicants. It is a compilation of your skills, achievements, employment history and personal interests, and provides the important first impression of you and your skills and experience.

The difference between gaining an interview or not is approximately two minutes. That is the period of time it is estimated an employer will devote to reading a resume to decide whether to consider you further as a potential candidate. Having decided this, they will probably re-examine your resume in more detail, but it is this first impression that can make or break your initial application.

Content

When writing your resume it is important to remember your objectives of making it clear and easy to read and understand quickly.

Your prospective employer wants to read only information that is relevant to the position on offer, so think of your resume as a series of acts. Keep sentences short and list your most recent jobs first. Before you decide on the layout of your resume, do some research and prepare the content.

Your resume should contain the following information about yourself:

1. Personal details

It is essential to include contact details in your resume to enable interested employers to get in touch with you. They should include:
Your full name
Your residential and postal address
Your contact phone
Your email address

Make sure you tell employers who have filed your resume whenever your contact details change.

2. Career Summary (Awards and achievements)

Make sure you include a list of your achievements – your accomplishments are an important selling point. 

3. Educational qualifications.  (Vocational and professional qualifications)

  • List the qualifications you have gained since leaving school;
  • List details of any apprentice training, industry accredited courses in specific skills,
  • Technical training, management courses etc.

4. Career history, past employers and job descriptions

Your approach to supplying details of your employment history can vary depending on your situation – you could list your previous employers in chronological order, or you may choose to concentrate on job descriptions or the skills used or developed. This is the most important section of your resume, and you should focus on the following areas:

  • Period of employment;
  • Position;
  • Skills;
  • Experience;
  • Responsibilities;
  • Achievements;
  • Evidence of progression.

Think about your previous positions and the specific situations where your work or actions made a task simpler or easier or solved a problem. Did you save the company money, increase efficiency, identify or act quickly to deal with a problem?

If you have been out of work for a longer period, you may find it difficult to think of example – if so, try talking to friends or ex-colleagues who may be able to help you. For this reason it is important to regularly update your resume so as to ensure that all details are correct and up-to-date. 

5. Personal Interest

You could also include details of your personal interests.
When deciding what to include, try to ensure that information is relevant in some way to the position you are applying for. Do your interests exhibit an ongoing active interest in a relevant field, or demonstrate skills such as leadership, organisational ability or teamwork? Remember that an employer may be considering how you will fit into their team when reading your resume. It is inadvisable to mention your political or religious activities, and remember that a reader does not want to be overloaded with superfluous information– be selective about what you include. 

Referees

Most employers will want to contact referees when they are seriously considering you for a position. If you supply the contact details of your referees in your resume, it is important to contact them to advise them that they may be contacted for references. It is also important that your referees are people who have worked with you and know your responsibilities and skill levels – a referee who can give a detailed response on your work and your abilities is better than someone very senior in the organisation who may not know you at all, or a personal referee who will be unable to make a comment on your job performance.

When listing referees, you should include the following information about them:

Name
Job title and name of organisation
Telephone number
Address
Email

If you want this information to remain confidential, include in your resume the statement "referees will be supplied upon request".

Different types of resumes for different situations

Don't worry if you don't have information that fits all these categories – the resumes of a student, a person thinking about leaving their first job and someone who has been in the workforce for 20 years will all be very different. Your resume is a document you tailor to present yourself in the most positive light – the key is to select the relevant information and choose a layout that suits you.

The layout you choose for your resume will be determined by your situation:

New jobseekers and graduates: If you are a recent school leaver or about to graduate from tertiary education you may not have a job history to include. Highlight your personal skills and attributes.

If education is your strongest asset, list it first, paying particular attention to courses that are relevant to the position.

If you have done any part time or temporary work or work experiences list it. Stress the skills you learnt and attributes used. If your part-time job was not related to the position you are aiming for, describe the skills and attributes you gained in doing it rather than just your duties. For example, rather than "worked as a waiter", include details of how this involved developing your customer service and time management skills, working as part of a team and under pressure.

(Reference Material from The Australian Human Resources Institute fact sheet)

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