Fresh out of university and applying for your first job? Or perhaps you’re still studying and looking for casual work? Creating your first resume can seem a little overwhelming, but with these dos and don’ts, you’ll be on the right track!
1. Include your full name and contact details.
Use a professional email address and ensure you are reachable by phone.
2. Create a subheading or tagline for your resume
This should briefly tell the employer who you are and what you are looking for. Some examples include:
- Seeking graduate or entry-level opportunity in a legal firm
- Marketing and Public Relations Intern
- Looking for part-time or casual employment in retail or fashion
Make sure this heading stands out and is easy for the reader to see.
3. Create a summary about who you are
Think of this as an on-the-page introduction so that employers or recruiters can gain an idea of what you can do.
The summary can include information about what degree you are studying, your main skills and talents and what you can bring to the employer’s table.
4. List your skills using bullet points where appropriate
You may want to divide your skill set into two areas – Personal Skills and Technical Skills.
‘Personal Skills’ can include things like good work ethic or friendly and personable, while ‘Technical Skills’ can refer to things like money handling experience or high-level literacy with Excel.
5. Include your education
List the education you have completed or are completing and the relevant years (e.g. ‘2010-2014’ or ‘2010 – Ongoing’).
Depending on the job you are applying for, you may also want to include your major or elective units studied, but this is not necessary.
6. Describe your achievements & activities
If you have no prior work experience, the achievements and activities section will be of most importance.
Here, the employer will be able to see what you are capable of doing and achieving, even in a university setting or capacity. You can include details of:
- Awards or recognition you have received
- Contributions or volunteer experience
- Positions you hold (e.g. Vice President of X Society)
- Outstanding grades or marks
7. Include any work experience you may have completed
Include work experience even if it is not directly related to your target industry. This will show an employer what experience you have and what skills you have acquired. Make sure you
- List each job title, company and the dates you worked there
- Include a bullet-point list and/or description of the responsibilities you had in each job
- Avoid being brief and be as detailed as you can (e.g. instead of simply writing ‘customer service’, try ‘assisting customers with sales and queries and resolving customer issues in a timely manner to promote faster sales’)
- Highlight (or list first) the specific skills that will be of most benefit for the job you are applying for. For example if you’re going for
- Include and highlight at least 1 key achievement you’ve obtained in each role
8. List Referees
It isn’t essential to include referee details on your resume in the early application stages (you can always provide them if you’re offered the job).
However, if you feel that including referees will benefit you immediately (or if the employer has requested this), feel free to include them.
Make sure you ask your referees for permission beforehand, and double-check that they will give you a positive review.
Further Dos and Don’ts
- Be detailed and specific! The more detailed and professional your resume is, the more chance you will have of finding employment. Even if things seem obvious to you, it’s essential to ‘spell them out’ for the employer.
- Customise your resume to suit the jobs you are applying for. It is crucial that your resume ‘answers’ the job description, and this may mean tweaking or changing it every time you apply for a new role. If you can’t be bothered doing this, you risk the chance of the employer rejecting your skill set.
- Proofread your resume – twice! Sloppy errors in spelling or grammar can make you look lazy and unprofessional and can often mean you won’t get the job. If your English skills aren’t great, get help from a professional – Career Counsellors in your university may be able to help.
- Be brief or vague in your resume. Brief or general resumes that don’t reveal in-depth details about your skills and experience can deter employers and lead them to think you are not suitable for the role.
- Include unnecessary details, such as your date of birth, religion, ethnicity, political affiliations or photograph. While there can be exceptions (e.g. defence industry jobs), none of these details should be considered relevant to the role.
- Format your resume so that it’s hard to read. Use lots of headings, bullet-points and clear line/paragraph spaces. Ensure your font is big enough and that your margins are wide. If your resume is too hard to read, the employer won’t bother and it’ll end up in the bin.