Your resume needs to market your skills, qualifications and experience to the employer. It should specifically address the needs of the employer and connect with the organisation. Everyone's resume will be a bit different, as it needs to reflect the individual. Having said that, there are a number of important things to keep in mind when you are writing your resume.
Your content should be clear, concise and to the point. Short statements should be used rather than lengthy paragraphs. When writing your resume, put yourself in the shoes of the employer. What vital information would you like to read about yourself?
You can also create a professional impression by paying attention to style layout and overall presentation. Ensure your bullet points and indents line up throughout the document, and ensure that all of your sections follow the same layout and design. The font size should be easy to read.
As with all documents, spelling and grammar is important, so if this is not your strong point, search for websites that offer guidance such as; 'The Guide to Grammar & Writing'. Most importantly, your resume needs to, gain you the interview.
Before you start your resume, you need to research the position. Ask yourself, what is the employer looking for? Analyse the job advertisement and the position description and identify the 'key selection criteria'.
Key selection criteria are the skills attributes, experience and education that the employer has identified as being essential or desirable for satisfying the requirements of the job. Addressing the key selection criteria allows you to tailor your resume specifically to the position, and avoids the one-size fits all format.
Skills and Attributes
Skills can be divided into three categories: Transferable, Job Specific and Additional skills.
Transferable skills, also known as Employability, Generic or soft skills are non-job specific skills, which can be applied from one job or career to another, hence the name transferable. They include:
- initiative and enterprise,
- problem solving,
- planning and organising, and
Transferable skills are not only gained in the workplace, they are also acquired by volunteering, by life experiences, by study or training or perhaps by being involved in an interest or hobby. In order not to undersell your skills to a prospective employer, knowledge of your transferable skills are very important when changing jobs or when entering the job market for the first time.
Job Specific skills, also known as 'Technical' or 'Academic' skills, are skills that you use to perform a particular task. These skills are often gained from education, specialised training or experience on a job. For example, if you are a business student, your skills may include; International Trade, Sales and Marketing, Project Management, Business Acumen, Market Analysis, Research Skills, Risk Analysis and Data Analysis.
For an IT student they may include; Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Information Management, System and Content Management, Case and Client Evaluation, and for Education they may include; Behaviour Management, Curriculum Planning, Competence and General Care.
Consider other skills that you have which may strengthen your application and set you apart from other applicants. Fluency in a language is an example of this.
As well as skills, employers seek certain attributes in employees. These generally include:
- honesty and integrity,
- personal presentation,
- common sense,
- positive self-esteem,
- sense of humor,
- balanced attitude to work and home life,
- ability to deal with pressure,
- motivation and
As well as being aware of the position, it's important to have self-awareness. Ask yourself; do you meet the key selection criteria? Employers want to know what you do well. They need to know why they should hire you. In order for you to be able to answer these questions for an employer, it is necessary that you identify your skills, achievements and experience. Let's say that the employer is looking for a candidate with, 'teamwork', 'leadership' and 'marketing' skills. An effective way in which to identify your skills is to divide your life into four categories:
- extra curricular activities
- personal life.
What skills have you developed from each?
Brainstorm examples of when you have demonstrated the skills desired by the employer. For example, working at McDonalds- my customer service, teamwork and leadership skills were developed by supervising new staff. Being part of the Young Achievers Program developed my business skills. Studying marketing at University, developed my understanding of consumer behavior, and being the captain of my beach volleyball team developed my leadership and teamwork skills.
Now that you've identified your skills, think about how your skills and experiences can be applied to the industry and the position you are applying for. For example, teamwork and leadership skills developed at McDonalds can be applied to the role of assistant marketer- dealing with external clients and working in a team. My small business skills can provide understanding of the financial impact of marketing upon the business. And my understanding of consumer behaviour can be used to develop marketing strategies. My leadership and teamwork skills will enable me to work collaboratively with colleagues.
Now you have not only identified your skills, you have identified examples of when you have specifically used that skill. You can now make mention of your skills in your resume and support them with concrete examples of when you used them.
Doing this also allows you to determine the additional skills you need to develop to make yourself more marketable and 'bridge the gap'.
Setting out your resume
Your resume should include:
Your name and contact details. Your name should be at the very top of the page in large font and bold. Include your address, phone numbers and a professional email address. Do not include information such as your date of birth, marital status, religion, health or number of children. Your name and page number should also appear at the footer of every page to avoid confusion if documents get mixed up.
You may also include your 'Career Objective'. The purpose of a career objective is to tell the employer what it is you want to do. The rest of the resume focuses on supporting this objective and convincing the employer of your ability to do it. Some points: Keep your objective brief, focused and precise. Personalise it. Be articulate about the nature of work you want to do, the field of work you're interested in or categories or industries you prefer to work in. Tell the employer what you have to give as well as what you have to offer, and demonstrate your workplace commitment.
- to gain a position as a Marketing Assistant bringing my Marketing knowledge, strong attention to detail and personal attributes of enthusiasm and willingness to learn into the organisation.
Your resume should include your qualifications. Your qualifications should be listed in reverse chronological order. You should include the date you commenced and completed or expect to complete your qualification. The title of your qualification must be stated along with the name of the institution you studied with, your majors and minors.
Student memberships of a professional association, is worth including in your resume, as it is evidence of being in the information loop of your field. Ensure that you include the name of your organisation and the level of membership.
You may wish to call this section 'Registrations and Professional Memberships' if your occupation requires you to be registered.
It's great to list your achievements and awards, but remember to keep them relevant. The best way to do this, is to look at the job specifications and decide whether the award or achievement match.
Your 'Professional Profile', or if you wish to call it your 'Professional Skills and Attributes', should be included in your resume. This is the section where you highlight the relevant skills you possess. Specifically, those desired by the employer and provide evidence to substantiate that you have applied the skill or developed it. For example:
- ability to communicate effectively in a formal business manner and as a member of the community demonstrated through liaising with customers and staff within the Harvey Norman Team.
- communication and teamwork fostered through volunteer and community engagement and public speaking.
The key to getting it right is to be brief and clear about your skills and have an example to back up each skill. Avoid the shopping list style with bullet points and one or two words, as they are meaningless without reference to you.
In saying this, avoid lengthy paragraphs, as you must keep the attention of the reader.
As I mentioned earlier, having knowledge specific to the job role and industry sector is a valuable skill and should be included in the skills section. Usually, these skills would have been acquired through your formal studies. Avoid general information. Include information you consider to be good foundation knowledge and relate it specifically to the position you are applying for. For example:
- ability to identify major elements of the Marketing process, as a strategic tool in business planning.
Employment experience should be included in your resume, as it provides information on how you have developed transferable workplace skills.
You may choose to divide this section in two. Naming one 'Professional Experience' and the other 'Employment'. Information on experience that is related directly to the position or academic learning is important to include in your 'Professional Experience' section. It may be a vacation placement, an internship, or employment where knowledge and skills from your course have been applied. Your 'Employment' section should include general work you have undertaken that do not directly relate to the position you're applying for, but demonstrate your employability skills. Some points: Remember to keep your details in reverse chronological order. That is, your most recent experience first within each section. Don't just list your duties. Focus on your achievements on carrying out that particular function or at least provide an outcome reason for carrying out that particular function. For example:
- developed sales and marketing aimed at business growth and achieved 30% increase in sales
- secured new clients through direct selling campaigns and doubled my personal account figures each month
- conducted and analysed market research and customer satisfaction surveys, in order to make more informed decisions about the success of marketing campaigns.
Focusing on achievements or providing outcome reasons for duties can be very effective.
Education, Professional Development and Training
If you have done any training which could be useful in the workplace then make sure you list it here. Do be selective in what you choose to highlight. You may wish to include your tertiary education in this section also.
Whether you call this section Community Experience, Volunteer Work, or Extra Curricular Activities, activities undertaken outside of work or study that requires a level of commitment can be examples of your ability to work in diverse settings and to deal with a broad range of people. Work as a volunteer may have built work place skills that transfer into other employment roles so can be helpful to include in your resume. Voluntary work is done for no payment with not for profit organisations. Participation in student committees and community groups may be other examples of extra curricular activities.
Some employers like to know what you enjoy doing outside of work and study. The reason you may include information on your interests, is to reveal additional attributes or skills you might have. For example, being a captain of a sports team demonstrates your ability to lead as well as work with a team.
People who support your application for a particular job are 'referees'. Employers may ask for details of your referees at the time of advertising, or they may only want to know the details after they have interviewed you and are considering you for the position. Aim for two to three referees, specify their name, position title, organisation, phone number and email address. Or state that your referees are 'available on request'. Previous work supervisors, including casual or part time work, tutors or academics are often good referees for graduate employment as they can comment on your experience and personal qualities. Family and close friends are not generally viewed as being objective enough to provide a referee comment. Ensure that you gain consent before you use their details on your application.
Be certain you have their support, as you want positive feedback. Inform your referees of every job application you apply for so they are prepared. Ensure that your referee is available to be reached by the employer. A referee should be contactable via phone.
Need further assistance? Then go to www.monash.edu.au/careers/.
Under resume feedback you will find; a list of job seeker seminars taking place on all Monash campuses. You will also find online resume resources including, resume samples that you can use as a guide when putting together yours.
You will also find a resume checklist to ensure that you have included the necessary information on your resume. You will also find pod casts from previous job seeker seminars. Employment and Career Development also run scheduled drop in sessions on all campuses. Bring a printed copy of your resume or cover letter and a Careers Education Consultant will be able to check it and offer valuable advice.
You may also choose to email your resume to an Employment and Career Development Consultant for feedback by email. Just submit your resume along with the necessary information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you will generally receive a response within three working days.