How to write a winning resumé

So, you’ve found an ad for your ideal job. Where do you start in updating your resumé?

In most instances, your resume is the first introduction the company or recruiter will have to you. It’s your chance to tell the reader why you’re suitable for the role and what you can bring to the company. Your resume is a marketing document; studies have found that the average time the decision-maker reads a resume before allocating to the ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ pile is less than two minutes! With this in mind, here are some general resume development guidelines to help with format and content.

  • Keep plenty of white space in the document – this allows the reader to easily work through the information
  • Use 11 point font (10 point at a very minimum), otherwise the reader will need a magnifying glass. On the other hand, much bigger than 12 point font can distract from the message you’re trying to get across
  • Use a sans serif font like Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Anything fancier is very distracting
  • Avoid colour – black and white is just fine. Too much colour or pictures can seem gimmicky
  • Keep the document fairly brief, between two and four pages should be the target
  • Don't include sensitive or personal information such as a photo or your date of birth, marital status, number of dependents or health status
  • Use bullet points to break up the information. Having paragraphs full of information makes it more difficult for the reader to take in
  • Present your work history in reverse chronological order (most recent job first) and you only need to go back 10-15 years. If you have had a long working history, you don't need to address your early roles, unless it's very relevant to the role you're applying for
  • Include details of your tickets, licences and site inductions. Don't take these as givens. The first person who reads your resume may not be completely familiar with your line of work so you need to be very specific
  • Unless the job ad specifically asks for them, keep your referees as 'available on request'. This allows you to choose the referees who can provide the information that best matches the role and it also gives you a chance to give them warning prior to the phone call!

What will make my resume stand out?

I’m often asked “What will make my resume stand out?” Here are my top tips for a really competitive resume:

  • Include a short summary at the very start of your resume. This should introduce you, the areas you've specialised in and your key skills. Try for four or five bullet points
  • For each role you include in your resume, add both responsibilities and achievements. Your achievements can include special skills/knowledge that you've developed, projects you've worked on and targets met or exceeded. Achievements should be as specific as possible. Including achievements is a great way to make your resume more competitive
  • Tailor each application to suit the requirements of the job you're applying for. These requirements are easily found in a job ad or position description. A hiring manager or recruiter can very easily pick applications that have been submitted by candidates who have not gone to the effort of tailoring their application. In short, not a good look! Use the information from the ad or position description as a checklist to ensure that the information is included in your resume
  • Always attach a cover letter to accompany your resume. Rather than being a repetition of what's in your resume, it explains why you’re interested in the role/company and the specific skills that you have that match with the role requirements. Again this needs to be tailored
  • Once you've drafted your resume and cover letter, double check them for spelling and grammar. There's no quicker way to turn off a hiring manager or recruiter than submitting an application with mistakes. If spelling and grammar aren't your strengths, give your draft to someone who is good at spotting errors.

Next it’s a matter of nailing the interview!

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