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Resume, CV and Cover Letter Step by Step Guide for Australia

If you are seeking a job, your resume or CV is the document which will introduce you to the employer or the recruiter and build the first impression. In this article, we will go through the key steps you must take to write a winning resume that will get you the dream assignment.
Resume Writing for Australian Job Market

What is a resume and what are its goals

Resume and Its Goals

Before going thru the steps on how to create a winning resume, let us understand what is a resume and what are the goals of a resume? Many people confuse resume with an employment application. A resume is not a job application but a self-marketing tool. Just like the goal of a product Advertisement is to get a customer interested in buying the product, the goal of a resume is to get a hiring manager interested in employing you. Therefore, it is very important you represent your skills, abilities and achievements in a manner which makes recruiters and hiring managers excited about you. Additionally, your resume is most likely to pass through software called applicant tracking system which means your resume has to be scannable by a machine. So, it should be in a readable format such as word document or a PDF. To add, a resume should be capable of impressing the recruiter and the hiring manager. Most of the time recruiters cannot meet you in person and they have to judge you from your resume. Finally, if you do everything right, you will achieve the key goal of resume to get called for an interview.

What is a cover letter and what are its goals

Cover Letter and Its Goals

A cover letter is a very powerful job application tool. Many people do not understand the importance of a cover letter. In fact, there is a growing perception that the cover letter is obsolete and is no longer required. But unless stated otherwise, use a cover letter in your work application.

What is a cover letter? A cover letter is a single page letter which shows why you are a good fitment for the job. It gives an additional opportunity for you to showcase your skills, your experience and your interest in the job and the company. That’s why do not repeat information from your resume. Let your personality shine in your cover letter since it is extremely difficult to bring out in a resume. In the end, a cover letter must include a call-to-action. The most appropriate thing to do would be to request a meeting so you can discuss the job and your qualifications further. Finally, if you make everything right, you help the recruiter determine whether you are a good fit for the job or not. The recruiter will then check your resume and will call you to for an interview

Resume vs CV 

Resume vs CV

Many job application instructs you to send a resume while many other demands you to send a CV. What is the difference between these two documents?

A resume is a shorter document as compared to a CV. The goal of a CV is to document the whole education and work history whereas the goal of a resume is to highlight the career and personal accomplishments suited for a job. What this difference means is that a CV remains fixed while a resume should be tailored for a specific job. To achieve the customizability, you can choose a format of the resume to best fit the particular need of the job application. In CV, you don’t have this flexibility and you need to stick to the reverse chronological format.

Let us consider the Australian context. Companies in Australia use CV and resume interchangeability and they expect you to deliver an extensive document to highlight your career and personal achievements as expected for a position. So you need to keep comprehensiveness of the CV and the customizability of the resume. For senior professional, a three-to-five-page document is a norm, but not a set rule.

Types of Resume Format 

Resume Formats

The goal of a resume is to place you as a suitable applicant for a particular job application. That's why a resume permits you a lot of flexibility in choosing the format fit for a specific job situation. Let us go through the resume formats. 

The most popular one is chronological. In this format, you present your career history in the reverse chronological order. This format is ideal if your employment history is applicable to the position you are applying and you have no gaps in your career story. The majority of content is your career history in this format. But what happens if you have a huge employment gap in your career history or if you are seeking a career change? A chronological resume format does not put you in a favourable condition in this scenario. As a result, you need to concentrate on your skills rather than your career story, and that is where functional format comes into the picture. The skill section makes the bulk of the content in the resume in this format. But if you carry a mix of related skills and work experiences, then what you require is a combination of a functional and chronological format where you find a balance between skills and work experience. 

Which one is best? Recruiters and hiring manager love reverse chronological format because it offers them a chance to look at relevant experiences and history to fulfil their needs. If you can make a chronological format work for you then, by all means, go for it. 

How to Create a Resume 

How to Create a Resume

Let us go through the steps of creating a winning resume.
  1. Before you put words into a resume format, you require the matter you can use. To complete this step, use a piece of paper and note down all that comes to your mind. The note should cover education, the skills you gained in your past work, responsibilities you played, the achievements you accomplished, the projects you delivered, your volunteer experience, your hobbies etc. Brainstorm and note everything that runs to your mind. 
  2. Once you have the exhaustive list of matter, go online and search for a resume builder or a resume template and fill the content you already assembled into the resume builder or the resume template (Good Australian Resume template). This step should provide you with the initial draft of your resume.
  3. Then, the key is to refine, refine and refine further till you have an incredible resume. Finally, download a copy or save it in the resume builder. This exercise will give you the master resume. But do not skip to tailor the resume for each job application. 

How to Create a Cover Letter

How to Create a Cover Letter

You can follow similar steps for a cover letter. You need to list all your skills and achievements that you can put in a cover letter. Then, go online and search for a cover letter builder or a cover letter template (Good cover letter template). You can use the cover letter template to show your work experience and your accomplishments. Once you are happy with the outcome, download the cover letter and that will give you the master cover letter. But do not forget the role of a cover letter is to convince the recruiter you are the best fit applicant for the role. So you need to change the cover letter for each work application.

Resume Sections 

Resume Sections

A resume template will give you all the sections to fill. Let us go through key sections and the details you need to make sure are available in each section.
  • Have the contact information available on each page of the resume so the recruiters can reach out to you for more information. The contact information must have your name, your phone number, email address, your social media URL and your location. You might think why do you need to include your social media URL. The reason is that recruiters and hiring managers will anyway search you over the internet. So it is in your strong interest to present this information up front, so you get to control how do they see you over the internet. 
  • Then, you also need to include a summary or a profile section. Some templates might include an objective section. But for experienced professionals, a better choice is to include a summary or a profile section which showcases key skills, key experiences and key accomplishments. Also, it is critical to tweak this section for each job application so it features the skills and experiences suitable for the work. 
  • In the work experience section, include the job title relevant for the job you are applying, the name of the company or the client, the location of the job, the dates you worked in the job, your key job duties and your accomplishments. Key to recognizing here is that you highlight your accomplishments and substantiate by quantifying them. 
  • In your education section, include the degree name, the degree specialization, the name of the school, the location of the school, and a year you graduated in. You can also include the grade you achieved if you scored top marks. If you were an average student, best to leave out the grade. If you have any certifications valued in your work, include them. 
  • And, do not forget to include the key skills applicable to the job. Including the key skills are crucial both for the applicant tracking system and the human reviewers. 

Resume Tips (Dos and Don’ts) 

Resume Dos and Donts

Let us go through key tips for creating a winning resume.
  • Do customise your resume for each position. Remember that resume is a marketing tool, so it is crucial that your resume answers the qualifications required for a specific job. 
  • Do make sure a machine can read your resume. Most of the time, recruiters get a flood of resume and they filter the resume using software called applicant tracking system. And only when your resume passes through the applicant tracking system, it will be read by a human reader. So, use a scannable format such as word or PDF. Also, avoid using special formatting such as tables in a resume. These formattings are sometimes not converted well by ATS. 
  • Do quantify your achievements. Recruiters and hiring managers love to see the proof of your skill sets and placing numbers against your achievements is a great way to do it. 
  • Don’t include any confidential information such as your full address and bank account details.
  • Do avoid putting cliche terms. Recruiters have seen these terms so many times, they get put off by these terms. So, use normal language or try to be innovative here and come up with fresh terms. 
  • Don’t put the object a statement if you are an experienced professional. You should rather place a summary or a profile section which highlights your experiences and your achievements and put you in a positive frame. 
  • Do use powerful action verbs. These verbs bring out your experiences and your achievements and make your profile shine. 
  • Do make sure you have no grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in your resume. This advice sounds obvious, but yet, so many people make the mistake of leaving silly mistakes on the resume. 
  • Do make sure document font is readable. The general guideline is to use 10 to 12 font size. Don’t include a photo in the resume. Many people find it useful to include a photo in the resume. But unless you are in a profession where your looks matter, best to avoid a photo in the resume. 
  • Do include your name, your contact details and page number on each page. It is critical that the people can find your name on each page so that just in case they lose a page, they can still identify your resume. 

Cover Letter Tips (Dos and Don’ts) 

Cover Letter Dos and Donts

There is an ongoing debate about whether you should even bother including a cover letter or not. Just remember that you won’t lose anything by adding a cover letter and you get an additional opportunity for you to show your skills and your fitment for the job. So unless a job advertisement states a cover letter is not needed, always add it. Below are the main tips for writing a cover letter.
  • Do make sure to address the cover letter to a named person. Avoid using generic words like “Sir” or “Madam” or “To whomever it concern”. 
  • Do customise for each job application. The primary objective behind the cover letter is for you to communicate your fitment and your enthusiasm for the role and do that with a lot of passion. It will separate you from other job seekers 
  • Do always finish your cover letter with a call to action. General preference is to keep it polite and request a meeting for a further discussion so you can take the work application further. Do avoid putting cliche terms. These terms show you do not have original thinking. 
  • Do make proper use of powerful action verbs. These verbs help your personality shine. 
  • Don’t make overuse of bold, italics and CAPS to highlight words or phrases. Apply these techniques in moderation to feature very important items. 
  • Don’t apply coloured text at all. It is possible that the recruiters might print your cover letter using a black and white printer and the colour document does not come out correctly on a black and white print. 
  • Do avoid any silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Leaving silly mistakes can ruin your professional reputation. 
  • Do use a font people can read. The general guideline is to utilize a font between 10 and 12. 
  • Do keep it concise and don‘t go beyond one page. 

Powerful Action Verbs 

Using proper power verb is critical for your resume to stand out. Here is an extensive list of such verbs.
Power Actions Verbs

Power Actions Verbs

  • Accelerated
  • Accomplished
  • Achieved
  • Acquired
  • Acted As
  • Administered
  • Advanced
  • Advocated
  • Aligned
  • Altered
  • Amplified
  • Analyzed
  • Arranged
  • Assessed
  • Assimilated
  • Audited
  • Authored
  • Authorized
  • Blended
  • Boosted
  • Built
  • Calculated
  • Capitalized
  • Centralized
  • Chaired
  • Charted
  • Checked
  • Clarified
  • Coalesced
  • Collaborated
  • Compiled
  • Completed
  • Composed
  • Conserved
  • Consolidated
  • Constructed
  • Consulted
  • Contributed
  • Controlled
  • Converted
  • Conveyed
  • Convinced
  • Coordinated
  • Corrected
  • Corresponded
  • Crafted
  • Created
  • Cultivated
  • Customized
  • Decreased
  • Deducted
  • Defined
  • Delegated
  • Delivered
  • Designed
  • Determined
  • Developed
  • Devised
  • Diagnosed
  • Directed
  • Discovered
  • Diversified
  • Drafted
  • Embraced
  • Enabled
  • Enacted
  • Encouraged
  • Energized
  • Engaged In
  • Engineered
  • Enhanced
  • Established
  • Examined
  • Executed
  • Expanded
  • Expedited
  • Explained
  • Explored
  • Facilitated
  • Fashioned
  • Fielded
  • Finished
  • Fixed
  • Forged
  • Formalized
  • Formed
  • Formulated
  • Fostered
  • Founded
  • Furthered
  • Gained
  • Gathered
  • Generated
  • Grew
  • Guided
  • Harmonized
  • Headed
  • Hired
  • Hosted
  • Identified
  • Ignited
  • Illustrated
  • Implemented
  • Improved
  • Incorporated
  • Influenced
  • Informed
  • Initiated
  • Inspected
  • Inspired
  • Instituted
  • Integrated
  • Introduced
  • Invented
  • Investigated
  • Joined
  • Launched
  • Lessened
  • Lifted
  • Made
  • Made Progress On
  • Managed
  • Mapped
  • Maximized
  • Measured
  • Mediated
  • Melded
  • Mentored
  • Merged
  • Mobilized
  • Moderated
  • Modified
  • Motivated
  • Navigated
  • Negotiated
  • Operated
  • Orchestrated
  • Organized
  • Outpaced
  • Overhauled
  • Oversaw
  • Participated
  • Partnered
  • Patched
  • Perfected
  • Performed
  • Persuaded
  • Piloted
  • Pioneered
  • Planned
  • Prepared
  • Probed
  • Produced
  • Programmed
  • Promoted
  • Proved
  • Publicized
  • Pursued
  • Put Together
  • Quantified
  • Raised
  • Rebuilt
  • Reconciled
  • Recruited
  • Redesigned
  • Reduced
  • Refined
  • Refocused
  • Regulated
  • Rehabilitated
  • Remodeled
  • Reorganized
  • Replaced
  • Resolved
  • Restructured
  • Revamped
  • Revitalized
  • Saved
  • Secured
  • Set Up
  • Shaped
  • Simplified
  • Slashed
  • Spearheaded
  • Standardized
  • Stimulated
  • Streamlined
  • Strengthened
  • Studied
  • Succeeded In
  • Supervised
  • Surveyed
  • Sustained
  • Taught
  • Tested
  • Tracked
  • Trained
  • Transformed
  • Undertook
  • Unified
  • United
  • Updated
  • Upgraded
  • Volunteered
  • Yielded
Writing a resume and a cover letter can be a daunting task. But if you follow this guide, you will add a killer resume and an impressive cover letter in your job search toolkit.

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