How to boost your chances of getting a job in Australia: a good CV (resume)
Living in Australia, for a lot of us, means, working in Australia. In order to give you the best chance of securing a job, you should have a Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV). Most prospective employers want you to apply for a job with a cover letter and a CV. A lot of thought and preparation should go into both before you even begin contemplating applying for a job. If you obtain work, you might want to apply for a 457 visa, or be sponsored for permanent residency (186). In any case, you will need to submit a CV that is acceptable to the Department of Immigration, skills assessing authority or for licensing/membership requirements.
Australian employers have expectation of what should be included in your CV. Australian employers rely less on job titles and more on your roles and responsibilities. Employers also want you to address your achievements in the role and outline what type of business you were employed in.
The plan below should help you produce a resume that is easy to read and packed with facts employers want to know.
1. Have your correct 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. Email addresses that may be offensive or lead to a negaitive opinion of you like [email protected] should be replaced.
2. Lay out
Keep it simple, clean and professional. Font style should be easy to read like 11 point Times New Roman or Arial. Many candidates use a table format this wastes a lot of space and thus creates more pages (see the bottom of this for “length of a resume”). 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 than bold and underline (overkill). Use dot points if you want, but just the one type. I have seen resumes with a variety of dot points. Also avoid colours. The content of the resume is the most important thing.
3. Summarising your strengths upfront
We would recommend either a short summary (a paragraph) or list your strengths at the very beginning has been the best option. For a school leaver, this should be replaced with Career Objective.
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.
- 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.
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 product manager, my career goal is to move into general 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.
4. 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. If you are migrating to Australia and will be submitting your CV to the Department of Immigration, your start dates should be day/month/year for start and end dates.
5. 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.
I read a resume from a candidate with fabulous IT experience gained while working for the largest children’s hospital in India but he didn’t say that. The hospital name, without that description, might not ring any bells with an IT hiring manager in Australia.
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 every single thing 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?
In Australia, employers like to see your achievements as this will demonstrate how you can add value to the business. Looking at CV’s from around the world, this is not common practice anywhere but Australia. 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.
Achievements show potential hirers what you are made of and what they can expect you will do for them.
Indent your achievements by one tab on your resume to make them stand out.
Example of a professional history item using the above lay out (again, purely made up):
Customer services manager, A-1 Clothing Care Service, October 1999 – present day.
First opened for business in November 1999, the company provides a national telephone and email consumer service to the end users of its 35 fashion retail or design clients.
Manage a team of 30 call centre agents who advise consumers on garment care, product updates and where to purchase particular garments.
Update and distribute new research to call centre agents; manage technology suppliers.
Plan and project manage technology and service improvements.
- Recruited, trained and established a start up team that was fully operational within a month – one week ahead of schedule.
- Introduced technical efficiencies that resulted in an improved customer response time of 150 percent.
- Worked with the sales team to create new products and services that resulted in a 40 percent increase in our customer base in 2004-2005.
- Named Employee of the Year 2004
Follow this format for at least your last two to three jobs.
Gaps in your work experience:
Employers and recruiters don’t like mysteries so if you have been out of the workforce it is better to try and explain the gap in your resume.
One recruiter told me that as resumes are scanned, it is a good idea to write a short paragraph explaining the gap and inserting it into the right place in your career history. Remember, your career history is in reverse chronological order. Add in a line about any new skills or training you acquired. If you have a career gap due to travelling, you should include this into your resume.
8. Education and Training
Start with your highest qualification first. Unless you are fresh out of school, leave your secondary school history out. Please make sure that the translation of your qualification is accurate. In Australia, a Bachelor degree, is three year, tertiary qualification. In Europe, a degree may be translated to “diploma” which is a two year qualification in Australia. Translating your qualification accurately may mean that recruiter, employer or the Department of Immigration thinking that you may think that you do not meet the qualification requirements.
Education and Training section can cover university, TAFE training, industry courses, in-house courses, and any other professional training.
9. Professional Memberships
Include only those relevant to your career as well as an indication of how active you are in the organisation.
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.
11. Hobbies and interests
I have heard mixed views about the wisdom of including a “Hobbies and Interests” section. If you want to include it, place it before Referees.
Some career experts warn that the section could work against you if the reader dislikes or is threatened by the activities you list.
How long should my resume be?
For school leavers and those that have been in the workforce for a few years, two pages is fine but for everyone else three to five pages is advised.
Happy job hunting!
Your street address
Suburb State Postcode
Date Month Year
Mr/Ms full name
Address your application to the name given on the job ad. If a name isn’t specified, call the company and ask whom you should make the application to.
Suburb State Postcode
Dear [name of contact]
In the first paragraph you should briefly explain who you are and why you are writing to them. Name the position you are applying for and where you saw the position advertised. While it’s fine to start this paragraph with ‘I’, try not to start every paragraph in the same way.
Never forget to mention which job you’re applying for. If the company is advertising more than one position, and you don’t say which position you’re interested in, they may not even consider your application – especially if they receive loads of applications.
Explain why you think you are qualified for the position, emphasising how your previous experience and transferable skills make you ideal for the role. Mention your most important qualifications (for example ‘I have just graduated from a Bachelor of Business Administration’) and what you think you would bring to the company. If the job advertisement lists selection criteria, this is the place to say how your skills and experience meet the criteria they’re looking for.
If a job has asked that you address selection criteria separately, this can go in a separate document.
In the third paragraph, explain why you would like to work for this particular company, showing that you have done research regarding the position.
Companies want to know that you’re interested in them and understand what they do, and what they want from their employees. You may be applying for hundreds of different jobs but you need to make each prospective employer think that their job is the only one you want.
Lastly, politely request that they consider your application, conveying your appreciation for their time.
Being polite and enthusiastic will help to create an overall good impression.
If you have the technology to do so, scan your signature and insert it into the document.
Print full name