A resume is a clear, easy to follow summary of what makes you a great applicant. It usually includes the following sections, in this order:
- personal details: name, address, email address, phone number etc.
- a brief overview of your career and personal attributes relevant to the job
- relevant work and volunteer experience (starting with the most recent and working back from there), and what you did in those roles
- education and qualifications
- licencees etc. relevant to the job
- names and contact details of people who have agreed to be your referees.
In many cases, employers today prefer resumes of just one or two pages.
“Having pages and pages on your resume is not ideal when job-seeking in today’s market,” says Impact Communities’ Samantha Lawrence.
If you have many years of experience in many different roles, it is probably a good idea to leave out experience that is not directly related to the job you are applying for. This usually means you have to adjust your resume for each application, but it’s worth it.
Rather than “dumbing down” your experience, creating a highly targeted two-page resume is an opportunity to show employers that you understand the position and have good judgement.
Transferable skills are skills you already have that could be useful in a different job. You probably have more than you realise. They are sometimes called personal attributes.
Some common transferable skills are:4
- critical thinking
- good communication
- problem solving
- strong work ethic
According to the Australian Government, transferable skills are valued in many jobs and industries. If you feel one or more of them are among your strengths, make sure you mention those ones in your resume and interview.4
As with any skill you list in your resume, you may be asked in an interview to give an example. Make sure you have examples ready that show you using your transferable skills.
Writing a strong resume is not only about leaving out experience that is not relevant. Samantha says many people forget to include volunteer experience that is highly relevant to the position. As Samantha tells job seekers all the time, “Volunteer work IS work, and particularly if it is aligned to the job or career that you’re applying for, definitely needs to be added.”
- Include the names of referees in your application if requested. In some industries, however, you will only be expected to provide the names of referees if you are shortlisted or interviewed.
- At least one of your referees should be your current or most recent manager, if possible. And remember, it’s absolutely fine if they managed you when you were a volunteer.
- If your current or most recent manager is not able to comment on the particular skills and attributes the employer is looking for, try to make sure your second referee is able to do this.
- Ask you referees if they are happy for you to nominate them, and make sure you have their most current titles and contact details.
- It’s a good idea to let your referees know a bit about the job you are applying for, particularly if you are invited for an interview and it seems likely your referees will be contacted.