Everyone has an opinion about how to write a resume australia
so it can be difficult to know exactly how to develop one. Here’s a universal guide for Australian resumes.
Your resume is one of the most important tools you have when job searching. Quite often it’s the first impression you make on a potential employer, so it’s important it get it right. This can be tough when there is sooo much information and misinformation out there.
These resume tips are aimed at the Australian job market. Please keep in mind that if you reside in another country, some of these tips may not suit your local job market or recruitment best practices.
This post is about how to write a resume australia
What is a resume?
A resume (or résumé) is THE key job document used to demonstrate a candidate’s unique set of skills, knowledge, experience and achievements as it relates to their career.
A resume is mostly used by an employer to determine if the candidate is potentially a good fit for their vacant role and whether the application should progress to the next stage in the recruitment process.
Almost all job applications require a candidate to submit a resume. I’ve never come across a job vacancy where an employer didn’t wish to review a resume prior to interviewing a candidate, even in the most casual hiring circumstances.
Resume vs CV Australia
What is the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV) I hear you ask?
Traditionally the main difference has been in the length and amount of detail. However, in Australia, you will find the terms resume and CV are used interchangeably and most people don’t recognise any differences.
A resume is a summary of a set of skills, knowledge, experience and achievements. A resume is usually two pages long and contains no more than 10 years of work and education history.
A traditional CV includes an in-dept review of an entire career. Skills, knowledge, experience, achievements are explained in great detail and there is a focus on education. Basically, the 10-year rule is out!
A traditional CV will continue to grow as your career and education advances. It’s common for CVs to be 10 pages!
Traditional CVs are not commonly used in Australia. The only exception I’ve seen is in an academic setting.
Throughout this post, I’ll be referring to resumes.
What is unique about an Australian resume?
If you’re new to the Australian job market, here are some key points about an Australian style resume:
- Two pages is the ideal length, however you may find many resumes are still three pages.
- Interestingly, employers still prefer resumes with simple formatting. News.com.au published an article in 2018 detailing research to this effect conducted by job site Adzuna.
- The world has seen a major resume glow-up, with beautifully graphic designed resumes becoming popular. Australia is still catching up with this trend. Most candidates still use simple formatting (as above), however those in the creative industries or with the design skills to do so, will use graphic designed type resumes.
- Include no more than 10 years of work history. There are limited exceptions to this rule if you’ve only worked in a couple of jobs over your career.
- Full infographic resumes are not particularly popular in Australia. Some people prefer to include one or two sections of infographics, however I don’t recommend this due to Applicant Tracking Software.
The ideal length of an Australian standard resume is two pages, however you will find many candidates who still use three pages.
Three pages is a comfortable length to include all key aspects of a resume which is why many people still stick with this approach.
However, it’s becoming increasingly popular for job advertisements to stipulate that an application should include a two-page resume.
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it from an employer’s perspective! If there are 200 applications for one job, the employer will probably spend 30 seconds or less skimming a resume.
Reducing a resume to two pages can be challenging, particularly when you have work history which spans over 10 years. It’s important to get this right for your application to be competitive and you will get bonus points for demonstrating your strong written communication skills 😉
My general recommendation is to keep your resume to two pages and always following the guidelines in the job advertisement!
Let’s face it, everyone has an opinion about how resumes should be formatted! It’s no wonder this aspect of developing a resume can be the most difficult to get right.
Here’s some general resume formatting tips which applies to all resumes:
Resumes should be written clearly and concisely, and in plain English.
Avoid including acronyms or references that won’t have any meaning to someone reading your resume outside of your organisation. Acronyms used across entire industries or that are commonly known are acceptable can be included if you provide some context.
Display of information
Resumes should be very easy to read or scan for key information. The display of information is therefore crucial to facilitate this.
Here are some guidelines:
- use lists over paragraphs, including bullet points or numbers
- ensure sections are appropriately spaced or separated
- use standard size page margins
- use consistent and complimentary fonts, font sizes, bullets, alignment and minimal colour
- ensure the information is prioritised and the most important content is listed first
- avoid putting any information in tables, headers or footers as Applicant Tracking Software can’t read it
- employment and education history doesn’t have to be in reverse chronological order, but in most cases it makes sense to do so
Keywords for resume
Resume keywords refers to words or short phrases included in a job advertisement. These words or short phrases are usually the skills and attributes required to undertake the role.
Referencing the keywords in your resume is absolutely crucial for your job application to be successful.
Employers will scan your resume to look for these keywords in order to determine if your meet the requirements outlined in the job advertisement.
Applicant Tracking Software is calibrated to do the same. The software is designed to eliminate applications based on missing keywords (amongst other things).
Be sure to highlight key transferable skills such as ‘excellent communication skills’, ‘good attention to detail’, ‘ability to solve problems creatively’ and so on. These skills should align with the key skills and attributes of the position you’re applying for.
Activities in resume
Including interests and hobbies in your resume is a hotly debated topic.
I generally recommend not to include interests or hobbies in a resume, unless you can demonstrate the skills developed from these activities are relevant to the vacancy you’re applying for.
For example, if you captain a netball team, this demonstrates you can work well in a team and have good communication, leadership and perhaps even event coordination skills!
Including interests and hobbies in a resume is particularly suited to high school students and some university students who have limited work experience.
Personal details in resume
Personal details such as date of birth, gender, marital status, nationality and appearance have no place in an Australian style resume.
Why? None of these details have any impact on a candidate’s ability to meet the inherent requirements of the job. Including these details in your resume may leave you open to discrimination.
There are very few exceptions. Industries like modelling, TV, acting (and related occupations) and the military will expect some of these details.
Keep in mind a potential employer has the right to confirm that:
- you are legally old enough to work in Australia
- you have the appropriate rights to work in Australia
An employer can ask a candidate to present documentation to prove the points above. Make sure you check out the Australian Government Fair Work website for more information about this.
Writing a resume can be a time consuming and frustrating process, especially when we’re receiving conflicting information about what to include and how to format it.
Understanding the general expectations of employers and how to tailor a resume to your advantage can help take some of the angst away when developing a resume.
The key is to apply the best practice guidelines above and tailor your resume to each job application.
This post is about how to write a resume australia
Need help with your resume? We’ve developed a FREE resume template just for you.
You might also like How to explain an employment gap on your resume
Hi there, I'm Danielle Ward
Your go-to career development and human resource practitioner, guiding your career towards true north.