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What is a resume?

Resumes & cover letters  

A resume or CV is a document that summarises your work experience, education, skills and achievements for a prospective employer. It is usually required as part of a job application, and is considered essential information in order for an employer to assess whether an applicant would be a suitable candidate for a first round interview.

What to include in a resume

  • Personal Details. The essential personal details to include are your full name and contact information – this is usually both your phone number and email address.
     
  • Career Objective or Summary. If you’re a recent school or university leaver without much professional experience, begin your resume or CV with a career objective in a short sentence or two. If you’ve gained experience in the workforce, a career objective is less necessary, however you may want to replace it with a career summary, describing your professional profile in a short sentence or two.

Place either your education or work experience list next, depending on which you’ve achieved more recently.

  • Education. List your most recent educational experiences first. Include your qualifications, institutions you studied at, graduation dates and other specialisations. Mention any special awards and other educational achievements.
     
  • Work Experience. List your most recent jobs including the title of your position, name and location of organisation, and dates of employment. In point form under each job, give a brief overview of your role, responsibilities and achievements, weaving in the skills required. Internships and volunteer work can also be mentioned here.
     
  • Additional Information. You may like to create headings such as ‘Skills’, ‘Strengths’ or ‘Interests’ and list information that would be relevant to the job you’re applying for. Information that illustrates your proficiency in languages, computer programs or medical knowledge should be included here.
     
  • References. It’s always a good idea to include two to three references at the bottom of your resume. A referee can be a former manager or tutor at university – just make sure you ask their permission before listing their name, position, company and contact details. Otherwise, you may wish to write “References available on request”.

Length of a resume

Keep your resume short and concise to make a good impression in a quick glance. Consider one to two pages if you have under 10 years of professional experience. Senior executives or academics may like to have resumes that are three pages or more.

Format and style

The design and layout of your resume or CV should be neat and easy to read. Use only one or two easy to read fonts and include headers, bullet points and paragraphs. Make sure you write your resume consistently in first person, and have perfect spelling and grammar.

What to exclude in your resume

  • Personal details such your religion, age or marital status
  • Every job you’ve ever had, especially when it isn’t relevant to the job you’re currently applying for
  • Salary expectation or previous salaries you’ve received. This information should be included in your SEEK profile

For more tips on how to improve your resume or CV check out Writing your resume.