Looking for a job in between study? Just graduated and keen to get your career started? Whatever stage you’re at in your working life, you’ll have a better chance of grabbing an employer’s attention with a resume that shows off your education, experiences and skills.
Of course, it can be a daunting document to write – especially in a market you mightn’t be familiar with. Just remember, you have a set of skills, experiences and goals that are uniquely yours. And with these tips, we’ll help you put it down in writing in a way that makes you shine.
Get your sections sorted
Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need to structure your resume. And the easiest way to do this is to split your content up into feature sections (we’ll get to design and formatting tips a bit later on). Generally speaking, your resume should include:
• Contact details: name, address, number, email address, portfolio/website
• Work experience: relevant paid and unpaid work experience
• Education: your most relevant qualifications (including the one you’re working on)
• A skills profile: your top skills that will make you a great candidate for the role
• Achievements: any achievements and awards that will help you stand out
• References: you can either include these, or make them ‘available on request’.
While you can save it for your cover letter, you might want to include a career profile too – basically a short summary of your experiences, goals and what you can bring to the role.
And don’t forget about relevant extracurricular activities, such as internships, placements, volunteering, mentoring or student leadership roles. These are all great insights into your personality, character, interests and accomplishments.
Be right for the role
No two jobs are the same. So naturally, no two resumes should be either. To boost your chances of landing that interview (and even the job), make sure you tailor your resume to the role you’re going for. Employers love to see that you’re engaged and you understand what they want – hopefully you!
So, how to make your resume unique? Start by looking over the job duties and selection criteria. Once you understand what the employer is looking for, speak to their needs as much as possible in each section. Try to include keywords from the job description too, as many companies use digital databases to search for candidates.
The shorter the better
You might be tempted to cram in as much as possible in your resume. But the reality is, employers are likely looking at hundreds (or even thousands) of candidates. To grab their attention, work on making the information as clear, concise and easy-to-read as possible.
We recommend limiting your resume to one to two pages (one is best). In fact, this gives you more incentive to think about what you really should be including in your resume, and then prioritise your relevant strengths and experiences.
Design and formatting matters
We’ve already talked about splitting up your resume into feature sections. Now let’s get to the finer details. Above all, whatever design or template you use, make sure it’s clean, consistent and chronological. Here are our tips:
• Keep italics, underlining and bolding to a minimum.
• Use standard margins for your document (one inch).
• Use bullet points and short sentences for each section.
• Start each point with an action verb – e.g., ‘created’, ‘managed’.
• Use a tried and tested font like Arial or Times New Roman.
• Use a readable font size – e.g., 10, 11 or 12.
• Put your contact details at the top of the resume.
• Don’t use graphics at the expense of key details.
• Save and send as a PDF if you’re applying digitally.
Proofread (then proofread again)
Even if writing isn’t a big part of the role you’re going for, your spelling and punctuation should be perfect in your resume. Not only does this make it much easier to read, it also shows your attention to detail.
So, once you’re happy with how your resume looks and feels, spend some time giving it a good read over. It’s worth getting a friend or family member to take a look too, as well as a teacher or someone from your university careers department. Or, all of the above – the more eyes the better.
Get ready to stand out
So, there you go – follow these simple tips and your resume will have a better chance of standing out. And remember, this is just one part of the process. A great cover letter will help tell the rest of your story, while having a few job-hunting tips and interview secrets under your belt will help you land that job.
Visit our OSHC Student Hub for information on your cover plus tips on what to do if you’re sick, how to make claims and more.