The Resume

Contact details

Centre contact details at the top of the page. Include name, address, phone number, mobile and email. Make sure your name and phone/email contacts are on each page just in case the pages get separated after being printed out in hard copy. Only use professional-sounding email addresses. Emails used by couples or wackey nicknames like thedude@ should be replaced. This is a marketing document promoting you, remember this!!

Birth date and marital status

You are not legally obliged to include either detail. Including marital status. As for age, we advise against putting your age on our resume – there is just too much age prejudice out there. However, if you think displaying your birth date would be an advantage to you, then go ahead.

Lay out

Again, this is really open to debate but the best advice I’ve heard is “keep it simple”. Font style should be easy to read like 11 point Calibri or Arial. We’ve noticed many candidates use a new times roman format but we find this a little old-school. Centring contact details and your Career history or Career summary (see next section) is fine and then placing the other information flush left.
Bold for headings is easier to read, do not underline bold!! It just doesn’t look good. Use dot points if you want, but just one size and style!! Don’t try and be too fancy it’s the content in your resume which is the most important thing! Also, avoid colours (one is OK), but don’t start placing un-necessary lines and pictures in your resume- focus your time on the information you are telling us.

Summarising your strengths upfront

You can do these two ways. Either via a list of Key Strengths represented as dot points or by creating a section under a heading like Career Profile.

Key Strengths

Based on my conversations with colleagues, a Key Strengths area represented with dot points is the popular option. The aim of the section is to give the person reading your resume a quick snapshot of what you have to offer so they place you in the short list pile.
For example:

  • High level computer skills including Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
  • Five years’ experience in customer service both face-to-face and phone based.

And you fill in the rest. As a guide, four to six points is good but there is no real rule. Another tip, be specific. I see a lot of “Excellent Communication Skills” but what does that mean? Try:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills acquired via study and customer service work.

Career Profile, Career Overview, Career Summary, Career Objective?

Many people start a resume with a Career Objective. I think this is fine for school leavers or recent uni grads. For the rest of us, a Career Profile or Career Overview might be better.

A Career Objective details what you expect an employer to do for you. Employers want to know what you are going to do for them… If you really want to include it because you think it will work in your favour, then do it at the end of the Career Profile or Career Overview.

For example, “While currently a project manager, my career goal is to move into general planning management”.

A Career Overview should provide the reader with a quick preview of what he or she will find in your resume. It is there to make sure they actually read through your resume. It should be a few sentences and written as one paragraph. It should include a smattering of your professional, academic and industry training. Some personal attributes are optional. As stated, your career goal could serve as the last sentence.

Professional history

Outline your career history in reverse chronological order.
The structure to follow for each role is:

Job title> employer> dates> what you did> for whom and when.

Description of employer

This is appropriate for those coming from overseas or in cases where the company might be largely unknown. Organisations like IBM, News Limited, Suncorp or the big banks, to name a few examples, will need no explanation. (make is short and concise, one line max)

Responsibilities

People make the mistake of believing the more responsibilities listed the better. Include only the key things you were “responsible” (accountable) for. Don’t list everything you did. I have seen CVs where people include: “Attended a weekly team meeting” So what? “Chairing” the weekly team meeting is a responsibility. See the difference?

Achievements

Up to three per job is good and be specific. List the things that you did that you were not paid to do. Items would include staff awards and special commendations. Also, ideas you put forward, scoped out or helped to implement that led to a cost saving or an increase in revenue or delivered new clients or resulted in higher levels of customer service or time efficiencies. The key here is results.

Please note meeting a target is not an achievement – it’s doing what you are paid to do. Exceeding a monthly target is an achievement.

Education and Training

Start with your highest qualification first. Unless you are fresh out of school, leave your secondary school history out.

Education and Training section can cover university, TAFE training, industry courses, in-house courses, and any other professional training.

Professional Memberships

Include only those relevant to your career as well as an indication of how active you are in the organisation.

Referees

References/Referees come at the end. Names and phone numbers (not mobiles) are the most acceptable presentation. Add a sentence: “Written references available upon request”; if you wish.

Hobbies and interests

Some career experts warn that the section could work against you if the reader dislikes or is threatened by the activities you list. We recommend leaving this our- If the recruiter knows you’ll be working closely with someone in the business he may ask you this question for a specific reason.

How long should my resume be?

Three pages Max