Resume Tips - Answers

Tip 1: Photographs

The general rule is do not include a photograph.

If you are required to include a photograph, make sure you look professional, attractive and likeable in the photograph. 

Including a photograph has only shown to be positive if you are considered as 'good looking' and you cannot tell what the recruiter thinks is 'good looking'. 

Women more than men are prone to bias as a result of including photographs. 

In "Resumes that get shortlisted" by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl, not one of the candidates in a sample of over 600 resumes that were sent were shortlisted for interview. 

Including a photograph without request can give the message "I want to be judged on my looks and not on job relevant characteristics." (Bright & Earl, p113).

Tip 2: Presentation

Layout

Following is the standard structure and layout of a graduate resume. You may wish to change the order of the sections depending on the relevance to the position you are tailoring your resume to.

Your full NAME as the heading, in a larger font. (You do not need Resume or Curriculum Vitae as the heading - it is obvious what it is.

  • Your personal contact details
  • Career Objective
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Key Skills (relevant to the position) / Competency Statements
  • Extra Curricular Activities
  • Interests
  • Referees

Spelling and Grammar

How important is accurate spelling and grammar? In 'Resumes that get shortlisted' (2000) Bright & Earl found that "even one error reduces the chance of the candidate being shortlisted by between 30 and 45 per cent." It is, therefore, essential that all spelling and grammar are correct.

Employers regard your resume and cover letter as an indicator of your written communication skills and your attention to detail.

Use the spelling and grammar checker, but with caution. Use Australian or UK English spelling if you are applying for jobs within Australia. Use American English spelling if you are applying to US companies in Asia or in the US.

You should also edit for context and meaning. This generally involves reading your application out aloud to check that what you are saying makes sense and is appropriate to the concerns of your reader - the employer.

Font

The font in this resume is too small and difficult to read.

Choose one plain font (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana are good). The size should be equivalent to Times New Roman 12 pt.

No underlining.

No colour. 

Bullet Points or Prose?

Use a combination. Complete sentences allow you to show off your written communication skills. 

General

Use white paper. Do not fold the resume, use an A4 envelope.

 

Tip 3: Personal contact details

You do not need headings for name, address, email. It is obvious what they are.

Australian Applications

In Australia the only details required are:

  • Name

If your name is difficult to pronounce, you may want to include the phonetic spelling in brackets after your name. eg Kai Nguyen (Ky Newin)

  • Address
  • Telephone Number/s

Ensure a message can be left easily

  • Email

Remember, every UNSW student is provided with a university-based email address. (A Hotmail address is OK, providing you check it very regularly)

Gender, marital status and age are not considered relevant to selection decisions.

International applications

Research the accepted or 'normal' format for the country to which you are applying. Conduct a web search to find employment and career sites to view resume samples and requirements. Books produced in that country on resumes will also be an excellent guide. Some examples are given below:

Singapore

  • Photograph
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Date & Place of Birth
  • Citizenship (not race)
  • National Service
  • Address (Australian & home country)
  • Email
  • Expected Remuneration (eg range 2200-2400pm)
  • ID number (if applicable)

China

  • Photograph
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Address (Australian & home country)
  • Email
  • ID number (if applicable)

USA & UK

  • Similar to Australia

Europe

  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Nationality
  • Date of Birth
  • Address (Australian & home country)
  • Email 

TIP 4: Education

This resume has listed subjects that are irrelevant to a job selling ice cream. List all the qualifications you have gained but only list courses or projects within your degree if you think they will be of interest to the employer.

Example:

2000-Present: Graduate Diploma - Human Resource Management

University of New South Wales

Relevant Courses: Workplace Industrial Relations, The Management of Training

1997 - 1999: Bachelor of Science - Psychology Major

University of New South Wales

Tailor this section to the job you are applying for. Don't just repeat your transcripts. Highlight particular knowledge and skills gained in the course that are RELEVANT to the job. You could also highlight any relevant research projects, thesis topics or applied projects.

Many graduate employers are interested in your academic achievements. Highlight any achievements such as: awards, prizes, good results (credit average or above overall or for relevant subject areas). Consistently good grades show consistent quality and effort.

Include accredited education qualifications, such as diplomas and certificate courses from TAFE or other education providers. This helps to display your range of skills and your motivation to learn practical skills.

Short courses (eg First Aid, Customer Service) can be included under Professional Development or Training Courses. 

Tip 5: Career objective

"The career objective is a succinct statement that describes what you want out of a job." (Resumes that get shortlisted, Bright & Earl, p95).

It lets the recruiter know if you are suited to the position. It is also an opportunity for you to market yourself by mentioning your skills and motivation.

Research by Bright & Earl (2000) found that a career objective influenced recruiters to think applicants were more suited to the job they had applied for. 

Tip 6: Employment history

  • List the most recent job first.
  • List dates, position title, name of organisation and what they do if they are not well known.
  • List your achievements rather than duties or responsibilities (all sales assistants may have identical duties but you may have exceeded sales targets, been recognised by a customer service award or been promoted - these achievements highlight that you are more capable than the average employee).
  • There is no need to include jobs you held for less than a month - unless they were very relevant.
  • Be positive (no need to mention dropping out of uni, or arguing with boss).
  • Tailor the information you provide to the job you are seeking. If you know they are looking for someone with people skills, highlight your achievements in this area.

Tip 7: Reason for leaving

You do not need to list your reasons for leaving a position. If you are asked, be positive about your previous job and the reasons you are applying for this one.

Tip 8: Referees

Most employers prefer to speak to your referees rather than see references (they are invariable positive).

List two or three current referees, preferably one academic and one or two employment-related. Always ask permission before you include a referee and send them a copy of your application so they can support your statements.

If you have been for an interview and you think your referees may be contacted, phone them and ask them to highlight the skills or experiences the interviewer was most interested in.

Tip 9: Hobbies and interests

This section gives the employer an insight into the type of person you are outside of work. What do you do in your spare time? How broad are your interests? Going to the pub every night may not increase your chances of getting an interview

Think carefully about what impression you are giving. If you state you are active in a political party, you may alienate some of your audience. However, if this part of your life is very important to you, then by all means include it. 

Tip 10: Membership

Include only what is relevant to the position.

Outstanding fines may not highlight your professionalism or ethics.