Create a winning resume that will help get you over the line and into a job – even if you don’t have a lot of work experience under your belt.
Whether you’re graduating soon or you’re a high schooler daydreaming about your future career, it’s time to put some thought into one of the most important documents you’ll use throughout your working life.
Here’s how to write a resume.
Structuring your resume
If you’re not sure where to start, there are resume templates available online. Pick a simple one. It might be tempting to get creative and choose something flashy to get attention, but it’s best to stick to basics.
There are several resume formats but the most common is the reverse chronological method. This means your most recent job is placed at the top of the employment section, followed by the next most recent. The same goes for the education section.
For the body of the document, use headings for the main sections. List clearly what you studied or where you worked, and the from and to dates. Underneath that, keep paragraphs short with dot points for extra details. Considering a recruiter might only spend 20 seconds scanning it, the information you provide needs to make an impact quickly, so make sure it’s clear and concise.
What to include in your resume
Employers who are looking for graduates know you won’t have 10 years of work experience to write about, but you do need to demonstrate why they should choose you over other graduates. Here’s what to include:
- Education. List your degree first, even if it’s not yet completed.
- Paid work. Focus on your specific responsibilities and any achievements.
- Other work experience. Include prac, internships and volunteering placements.
- Awards and achievements. Don’t be embarrassed! If you got a great ATAR or achieved all high distinctions, write it down.
- Capabilities. Essentially, you want to demonstrate your job readiness. Do you have skills in an industry software system? If applying for a job in management or law, why not list the ways you’ve demonstrated leadership qualities?
- Personal attributes. Are you a good listener or a problem-solver?
There are lots of other sections you could potentially include, but it really depends on your course and what career you’re entering. For example, research interests may be important for one industry, whereas multicultural experience will be crucial in another.
What to include on your resume if you don’t have much work experience?
Gather ‘round. This conundrum strikes fear into the heart of every university student and recent grad. You need work experience to get a job, but you need a job to get work experience. Here’s a few ways to overcome that challenge.
First, build a good relationship with lecturers and tutors. They could tell you about upcoming job roles or they could act as referees for you. Second, secure work experience while you’re still at uni to show employers you have initiative. Your first port of call should be our Work Integrated Learning.
Third, include any paid jobs you’ve had. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a supermarket; what employers really want to see is that you’re responsible, punctual, understand teamwork, and can take direction.
Lastly, include community involvement (do you regularly raise money for worthy causes?) or nominate skills and knowledge you’ve gained doing university projects.
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors
- Use the same key words as in the advertisement
- At this stage in your career, keep it to two pages long
- Use a standard email address. No slang
- Create a master resume. Then create a copy for each job you apply for and tweak it so it’s tailored to that position.
- A photo of yourself
- Your date of birth, marital status or health status
- Exaggerate or lie
- Negativity or explain why you left a job
- Decrease the font size to fit more in. White space makes it easier to read
- It’s fine to list your high school if you’ve recently left school, but not once you’re past your early 20s.
Want to get your life in order? Read more about How to be organised.