Resume writing

Resumes

Introduction

Taken together with your cover letter, your resume provides an employer with the information they use to decide whether or not to select you for an interview. Your resume will usually be one of many viewed by an employer in the selection process, so it is vital to ensure that it not only contains relevant information about yourself that addresses the job requirements, but does so in a readable, concise and structured way.

Your resume is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to a future employer your written communication skills, in particular your skills in bringing together information from various sources in order to provide a summary of your background and abilities. These skills should be familiar to

You. They are very similar to the academic skills developed through assembling, drafting and submitting written work during your course.

Format

Your resume must be concise; that means that it should be 2-3 pages for a younger graduate, or 3-4 pages for a mature age graduate with a significant work history.

The information on those pages needs to be presented in an organised, logical and coherent fashion. You will not be writing the same sort of sentences in your resume as you would in your cover letter; rather, significant information should be highlighted through headings and bullet point lists.

Key points:

  • Use a conventional font, e.g. Times New Roman or Arial
  • Use 10 to 12 point text
  • Use plain business English -avoid SMS language, abbreviations, jargon and slang
  • Consistent and clear formatting should be used
  • Consider converting your resume to .pdf format for consistent formatting
  • Have plenty of ‘white space’ on the page, i.e. have enough space between paragraphs, make sure margins are not too narrow
  • Check and double check for spelling and grammatical errors; simple spell-checks will not pick up double words, or the use of the wrong word –have another person proof read your resume before you send it

Styles - there are three main types

  • Hybrid - this is the most suitable for graduates as it combines the best features of the chronological and functional styles.
  • Chronological (reverse) - information is listed in order from most current employment/work history.
  • Functional - highlights your skills and achievements (good to use if you are changing careers).

Conveying Your Skills

Ultimately, a resume needs to provide information to a potential employer about your skills in relation to a workplace. Your academic background and achievements are clearly a major part of this, but they form only two of many parts of your resume. Evidence in resumes of both job -specific and generic workplace skills (also called ‘transferable’ or ‘employability’ skills) is vital to be successful in gaining interviews.

Employability skills consist of communication, team work, problem solving, initiative and enterprise, planning and organising, learning, using technology and self-management. Each skill you list needs to be relevant to the job and substantiated with a short example.

Employers will be looking for evidence of academic and employability skills from your:

  • academic performance –your results from all relevant qualifications, including your current course (include any academic awards or prizes)
  • employment (both discipline –specific and general)
  • extra-curricular activities, incorporating involvements on and off campus

The focus of the resume needs to be on the relevant skills, knowledge and experiences that show you can do the job, so that a future employer can quickly make a judgement on the contribution you could make to their organisation.

Resume Content

Personal Information

Top of your resume. Format:

  • Your first and last   name
  • Residential address (or postal address if different)
  • Home and mobile numbers
  • Email address
  • Citizenship or residency status (only if requested by the employer)

Career Profile

A summary on what you can contribute to your future employer; a combination of hard, soft skills and other significant attributes

  • This section is   optional and should be a short, targeted statement that is specific to the   job explaining why you are applying.

Education

  • Course dates (e.g. 2010 - current)
  • Full course name/qualification
  • Include majors or minors
  • Educational institute
  • Achievements and awards related to your course and any course related research projects that are relevant to the job.
  • This information should be presented in reverse chronological order i.e. most recent education is listed first)
  • Ensure that you emphasise your majors and minors, but don’t list all subjects and results, as these will be available in your academic transcripts

Working Experience

Highlight relevant positions, summarising jobs in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent/current position. Format:

  • Period of work
  • Job title
  • Business name
  • Key responsibilities (summarise in a dot point list, with the sentence starting   with an action word i.e. advised customers of various products).
  • Achievements and results

Final-year Project

This section is to highlight the insights of the project and your achievement. Format:

  • Project title
  • Steps you have taken to carry out the project
  • Provide information on findings and conclusion

Other courses/ qualification/awards and professional development

List any other courses or qualifications you have completed, as well as any awards or scholarships you have attained. Format:

  • Relevant certificates, short courses and training
  • Period of training
  • Title
  • Training provider, organisation or association name

Professional Association/Affiliations

Include membership (it may be associate or student membership) of professional bodies that are relevant to your studies or industry – this is a very efficient way of indicating your long-standing interest and commitment to a profession or industry. Format:

  • Name of Professional organisation
  • Period of membership
  • Scholarships
  • Work achievements - e.g. employee of the month

Extracurricular Involvement

To demonstrate the skills beyond academic capabilities.

Voluntary Work

Previous or current participation in community work, clubs, sports or youth groups can demonstrate your strong willingness to use your initiative, leadership and interpersonal skills.  Employers value people who are worldly, culturally aware, independent and mature. Detail your involvement with organisations, making sure you highlight any particular responsibilities or achievements.

References

List two or three people who have seen what you are able to do in an employment or academic environment. Try not to include friends or family members or non-work referees. Always get permission from referees before including their details on your resume. For each referee, include:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Organisation
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Otherwise, write 'referees are available on request' and have their details ready to provide to an employer when asked.

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