Careers in Australia

How to write the perfect resume

by Anthony Bianco

It sounds obvious, but your resume is the gateway to your first or next job which will set the course for your career. You might be after your first job out of university after you graduate, or searching for a job in Australia.

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The first thing prospective employers will know about you is what’s on your resume. Your resume should capture who you are as a professional. It makes a crucial first impression on your potential new boss and will usually determine whether or not you land that all-important interview.

Your resume needs to provide a summary of your work history, education, credentials, and other accomplishments and skills. A resume should get to the point quickly and be as concise as possible; most recruiters will only spend a minute or two glancing at it. Typically, a resume is one to two pages long and it needs to provide a snapshot of your ability to fill the advertised position you are applying for.

Make sure your resume is saying the right things about you with these tips.

Tip 1 – What Has Worked Before?

If you have a resume that has resulted in interviews previously, make sure you use the best components and customise it for the relevant position you are applying for. There is plenty of advice online on what works for specific industries. Plus if you have friends in the same field, ask what’s worked for them and adapt their tips for yourself.

As mentioned before, keep your resume to a maximum of two pages unless you have a lot of work experience that’s relevant to the role you are applying for.

Tip 2– Structure Your Resume

Your resume structure should include the following in order, and be made obvious using subheadings:

  • Name and contact information – including your phone number and email address, and even LinkedIn profile link
  • Summary statement – who you are and what you do
  • Professional experience – in reverse chronological order, that is from most recent experience
  • Education
  • Additional skills and strengths
  • Awards and recognition, and
  • References (optional).

Choose a clean, easy to read font such as Arial, Verdana, Helvetica or Calibri. Keep your font size from 10 to 12 points so that it can be easy to read on a computer or on hardcopy. Align your content to left so it’s easy to skim the page. Include keywords relevant to the position, such as a ‘software engineer’ or ‘emergency nurse’ as some employers use computers to scan resumes for relevant information. Sprinkle action verbs throughout your resume, such as ‘mentored’, ‘managed’, ‘collaborated’ or ‘led’.

You may need to include a photograph if you are going for a position that specifically requires this such as an acting position. Don’t put in personal information such as your age, spouse or children as this is irrelevant for the job. Also, don’t lie about anything in your resume, as this can backfire spectacularly if this is fact checked! Also briefly explain gaps in your work history such as taking a gap year or extended break. Leave out anything negative about why you left previous employers.

In regards to your references – that is, people who can vouch for your skills and experience, if the position advertisement does not specifically request them, leave this out until you reach the interview stage.  If references are specifically required in the resume, or when the job application process reaches the stage where references are to be contacted, make sure you have their permission beforehand and provide an email address and phone number, their position, and who they work for. Your references should be professional ones that you have directly worked with previously, and you should list the reference who you have the best relationship with at the top. If you don’t have a long work history, try asking people who can speak on behalf of your character, mentors or leaders.

Tip 3 – Quantify Your Achievements

Throughout your resume, focus on your achievements in current or past roles – not your duties. Show that you’ve already done what they’re looking for. Highlight any awards you’ve received or relevant recognition.

People also love numbers! If you can include facts like uplift in sales or efficiency increases, this will definitely be noticed. 

Tip 4 - Double Check What You’re Sending and to Who

Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors before you send it off. Use your spellchecker, and have someone else (human) proof read your resume.

Most job applications are done online these days – you should save your resume (and cover letter) as a PDF so it can’t be accidentally altered or changed.


You might need to test and learn with what to place on your resume, but the main point is to clearly show your prospective employer that you have already undertaken what’s required so you can ‘hit the ground running’ if you successfully gain the position.

Happy job hunting!