Australian Resume, or Australian CV as they are often known, is an interesting term, and one which might often strike fear into the heart of any new Australian Job seeker.
Let me let you into a teeny tiny secret though. It’s really not that different to other resumes used around the world!
In a couple weeks, I start my third job since arriving in Australia. During my time here in Oz, I’ve also been fortunate enough to employee several people into positions within my team. As a result, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve reviewed my fair share of Australian Resume’s.
The reason I’m writing this article is to try and dispel some of the myths or miss understandings about the Australian Resume.
On undertaking a little research for this article, It seems in some instance the Australian Resume is portrayed as some kind of mythical beast which is almost impossible to understand. (Unless you were born and bred within this wonderful country of course).
There’s also lots of online resources offering to tell you the secrets behind the Australian resume (for a small fee) or provide you with Australian resume examples or templates (again for a small fee) but as I’ve said, it’s really not that hard!
Now I’m not going to use this this article to bash these resources. They each have their place and for some folks, the use of such resources may be a preferred approach.
I’d like to use this article however as means to settling the nerves of those of you who may be a little concerned about the creation of your Australian Resume. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take look at the basic structure of an Australian resume, we’ll also provide some general tips on pulling together a resume which will be right for you.
Australian Resume – Format and Structure
In general, the structure of an Australian Resume will present the following information in the reader in the following order:
- Contact Details
- A career profile / summary of your key strengths.
- Professional History
- Education and Training
- Professional Memberships
- Hobbies and Interests
We’ll go into each of these headings now in a little more detail:
Centre your contact details at the top of your resume. Include your name, address, phone number, mobile and email. Make sure your name and phone/email contacts are on each page just in case the pages get separated after being printed out in hard copy. On the topic of email addresses only use professional-sounding addresses.
Emails used by couples or zany nicknames like firstname.lastname@example.org should be replaced with something more appropriate. Remember this is a marketing document promoting you so use some variation of your name.
Summarising your strengths upfront
You can do this two ways. Either via a list of Key Strengths represented as dot points or by creating a section under a heading like Career Profile.
Based on my conversations with recruitment consultants, a Key Strengths area represented with dot points is the popular option. The aim of the section is to give the person reading your resume a quick snapshot of what you have to offer, so they place you in the short list pile.
- High-level computer skills including Excel, Word and Powerpoint.
- Five years experience in customer service both face-to-face and phone based.
And you fill in the rest. As a guide, four to six points is good, but there is no real rule, just make sure you save a few strength for the rest of your resume.
Career Overview, Career Profile, Career Objective or Career Summary?
Many people start a resume with a Career Objective. I think this is fine for school leavers or recent university graduates, however, for the rest of us, a Career Profile or Career Overview might be better.
A Career Objective details what you expect an employer to do for you. Employers want to know what you are going to do for them. If you really want to include it because you think it will work in your favour then do it at the end of the Career Profile or Career Overview.
For example, “While currently a product manager, my career goal is to move into general management”.
A Career Overview should provide the reader with a quick preview of what he or she will find in your resume. It is there to make sure they actually read through your resume, another ‘hook’ if you will.It should be a few sentences and written as one paragraph. It should include a smattering of your professional, academic and industry training. Some personal attributes are optional. As stated, your career goal could serve as the last sentence.
Results-oriented IT Professional with proven leadership skills. Ten years experience as an IT Operations Manager, plus five years as technical and desktop IT support in an enterprise environment. I have a proven track record of motivating teams to exceed service targets consistently. I’ve recently completed a Masters in Business Administration and am now seeking a new professional challenge.
Also, avoid airy, fairy statements. If a sentence doesn’t contain factual information, ditch it. As an example, “to utilise my skills in a professional environment for the mutual benefit of myself and employer”.
Where is this sentence coming from? Is it stating the obvious? Does it tell the future employer anything?
Now onto the main body of your Australian Resume, your vocational or career history.
Outline your career history in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)
The structure to follow for each role is:
- Job title
- Start date and finish date
- major accomplishments / what you did
Provide your current job title as described in your contract of employment with your employer. Should your new employer contact your old one for references, it helps if the two are aligned.
Description of employer
When writing your Australian Resume, providing a description of your company may be appropriate. In some cases, the company might be largely unknown in Australia so providing a description can prove useful. Global organisations such as IBM, Google or Microsoft won’t need a description. Organisations located in your home country only probably will so use your judgement in this space.
People make the mistake of believing the more responsibilities listed, the better. Include only the key things you were “responsible” (accountable) for. Don’t list every single thing you did. I have seen CVs where people include: “Attended a weekly team meeting” So what? “Chairing” the weekly team meeting is a responsibility. See the difference?
For an Australian Resume, Three to six key achievements for your last two roles is a good number while 2 – 3 per for your more dated roles is good.
Remember be specific. List the things that you did where you went above and beyond the role you were paid to do. Items would include staff awards and special commendations. Also ideas you put forward, scoped out or helped to implement that led to a cost saving or an increase in revenue or delivered new clients or resulted in higher levels of customer service or time efficiencies.
The key here is results.
Remember that just meeting a target is not an achievement – it’s doing what you are paid to do. Exceeding a monthly goal is an achievement.
Achievements show potential hirers what you are made of and what they can expect you will do for them.
Indent your achievements by one tab on your resume to make them stand out. For example
- Recruited, trained and established a start-up team that was fully operational within a month – one week ahead of schedule.
- Introduced technical efficiencies that resulted in an improved customer response time of 150 percent.
- Worked with the sales team to create new products and services that led to a 40 percent increase in our customer base in 2004-2005.
- Named Employee of the Year 2004
Education and Training
Presenting you Education and Training within an Australian Resume is no different to resumes’ elsewhere.
Start with your highest qualification first. Unless you are fresh out of school, leave your secondary education out.
Education and Training section can cover university, TAFE training, industry courses, in-house courses, and any other professional training.
Include only those relevant to your career as well as an indication of how active you are in the organisation.
Birth date and marital status
Within Australia You are not legally obliged to include either detail within your Australian resume. Including marital status in this day and age just looks plain weird to me. As for age, MANY recruiters advise against it – there is just too much age prejudice out there. If you think however that displaying your birth date within your Australian resume would be an advantage to you, then go ahead.
References or Referees come at the end of your Australian Resume. Names and phone numbers (not mobiles) are the most acceptable presentation. Many job candidates are wisely recognizing the need to shield some of these cherished “assets” until a firm job offer is presented, so just placing “Available upon request” under the Reference heading should suffice..
Hobbies and interests
I have heard mixed views about the wisdom of including a “Hobbies and Interests” section. If you want to include it, place it before Referees. Some career experts warn that the section could work against you if the reader dislikes or is threatened by the activities you list.
Australian Resume – Hints and tips
Firstly If you’re writing your Australian Resume from scratch, don’t rush it. Remember it’s a marketing document promoting the product, which is you. No one gets a job based on the resume alone. The purpose of the resume is to get the interview, no more, and no less so sell yourself!
Australian Resume Layout
Again, this is open to debate, but the best advice I’ve heard is “keep it simple”.
Font style should be easy to read like 11 point Times New Roman or Arial. I’ve noticed many candidates use a table format, but I find this wastes a lot of space and thus creates more pages. Centring contact details and your Career history or Career summary is fine and then placing the other information flush left.
Bold for headings is easier to read than bold and underline (overkill). Use dot points if you want, but just the one type. I have seen resumes with a variety of dot points. Also, avoid colours. The content of the resume is the most important thing.
Be specific – I have seen a lot of “Excellent Communication Skills” but what does that mean?
Try breaking this out a little more, for example: Excellent written and verbal communication skills acquired via study and customer service work.
Australian Resume Length – How long should my Australian resume be?
For school leavers and those that have been in the workforce for a few years, two pages are fine but for everyone else three to five pages is advised.
Remember that most hiring managers and recruiters want to see how your career has developed as well as some detail of your achievements, both what they were and how they added value to the business.
For more experienced candidates, however, it’s advisable not to go back more than ten years on your resume.
You can include a paragraph under the heading “Other professional experience” if you want so you can mention earlier work of particular interest or relevance. Or you can provide a full summary of your professional history. You can end with the sentence: “Full resume available upon request.”
Australian CV or Resume?
A resume in Australia is more often than not referred to as a CV (Curriculum Vitae). While strictly speaking a resume and a CV are two distinct documents, the term CV has been embraced as an industry-standard regardless of the type of document it is. Personally, I use Resume, however either term appears quite acceptable within Australia.
Spelling is a particular issue. Words often considered “misspelled” are frequently those deemed as “American/English.” For example. terms such as Centre=Center, Organise=Organize, Cheque=Check, ealise=Realize, Colour=Color, Specialise=Specialize are many of the main offenders that will be considered glaring spelling errors should they find themselves in an Australian resume, and only serve to reinforce the candidate’s lack of familiarity with the norms of the country.
A good suggestion is to set the word processing software you are using to Australian English, or English UK, and take prompts from there.
Australian Resume paper size
Paper size in Australia conforms to European standards so it’s expected that your resume will be written using A4 size paper (217mm x 297) and not US Letter size (8”x11”).
To help you get your head around this article, I also thought I’d include this great youtube video I found.
The guide was created by the guys over at careerone.com.au and it provides a useful overview.
So there we go, it’s not that scary, is it? : – )
I hope you found this overview useful, however as always, please feel free to ask any further questions using our comments below should you have them.