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Cheat Sheet

Writing Resumes & Cover Letters For Dummies (Australian/New Zealand Edition)

Writing a resume can be daunting, especially if you haven’t written one in a while. In this new era of job searching and recruitment, you want your resume to stand out from the crowd. You need to know how to create a well-written, tailored resume that presents your work history in a way that appeals to employers so you can get that interview.

Mastering the Art of Resume Presentation

Resumes are scanned in a matter of seconds so ensuring your resume follows a clean and logical layout is a must if you're to impress recruiters. Be consistent with the formatting, writing style and spacing you use throughout your resume to give it a professional look. Here are a few tips to help you create an attractive, easy-to-read document:

  • Use a common font like Times New Roman, Arial or Garamond.

  • Stick to 10–12 point font size for main text, slightly larger font for headings.

  • Be consistent — don’t mix fonts, heading sizes and so on.

  • Consider using bold for headlines rather than underline and bold.

  • Keep your resume uncluttered — use plenty of white space.

  • Use a professional-sounding email address, preferably your name.

  • List your employment history in reverse date order, so your most recent job appears first.

  • Use bullet points to list responsibilities and achievements.

  • Choose a simple layout that’s easy to read.

  • Include your name and mobile/email on each page in case pages get separated when printing.

  • Stick to using Word unless specifically asked to provide your resume in a PDF format.

7 Deadly Resume-Writing Sins

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to writing your resume. If you try to deceive employers and recruiters by fabricating or exaggerating your skills and experience, chances are you’ll be caught out. Keep it real. Avoid making these mistakes when you’re writing your resume:

  • Lying about your work experience

  • Using phony referees

  • Fudging employment dates

  • Faking or overstating your qualifications

  • Beefing up your job title and responsibilities

  • Exaggerating your achievements

  • Inflating your salary

Choose Persuasive Words for Your Resume

Write your resume using strong, powerful words that engage employers and recruiters and make them want to keep reading about you. Keep the language clear and professional, and use commonly used keywords to highlight your achievements in your industry. By using words from the job ad in your resume as well as industry terms, you stand a higher chance of getting shortlisted when either a human being or a piece of software first reads your resume.

Here are some tips on getting the language in your resume right:

  • Use strong descriptive words to outline your responsibilities and achievements, for example:

    • Capable

    • Competent

    • Delivered

    • Dynamic

    • Exceeded

    • Excelled

    • Experienced

    • Improved

    • Increased

    • Initiated

    • Positive

    • Qualified

    • Self-motivated

    • Significant

    • Strengths

  • Write in an active not a passive voice.

  • Spell out uncommon acronyms and abbreviations.

  • Leave out slang words and casual talk.

  • Avoid old-fashioned terms — keep up with the times.

10 Top Technology Tips for Resume Writing

Today's job seekers need to know how to create a resume that can be sent by email and that can be easily opened by employers and recruiters:

  • Fill your resume with industry-specific keywords, so you don’t get overlooked in company databases.

  • Stick to file size limits.

  • Send your resume in the requested file format. For example, in Word. Note that some companies may prefer PDF or another format. When in doubt, always ask.

  • Use simple, plain fonts.

  • Avoid using graphics, photos, clip art or special characters — unless you’re applying for a creative role.

  • Scan your files regularly for viruses.

  • Limit resume posting to a few job sites to help you track your job hunting activity and to avoid applying for the same job more than once.

  • Keep track of the user names and passwords you use when registering on employment sites.

  • For advertised vacancies, put the job title and reference number in the subject line of the email.

  • Ensure the employment details you provide on your resume are consistent with those that can be found on your LinkedIn profile.

Avoiding Common Resume Blunders

If you want to write the perfect resume for recruiters you need to know what irritates them as they sift through piles of job applications. Here’s a list of resume mistakes that really irk recruiters:

  • Omitting contact details: This sounds like a no-brainer but always include your name, address, telephone numbers, email address and URL (if applicable) in your resume. List your contact details at the top of the page, so they stand out.

  • Putting in unnecessary personal details: Leave out information such as date of birth, marital status, gender and religion in your resume. This information is irrelevant and not job-related.

  • Telling all: Don’t divulge personal information in your resume. Nobody cares what your partner does, how many children you have, what schools they attend, the number of pets you own.

  • Using zany email addresses: Stick to using conservative email addresses that sound professional and incorporate your name.

  • Sending your resume off to the wrong person: This creates a bad impression and recruiters won’t take you or your resume seriously.

  • Including photographs: Photos shouldn’t be included with resumes in Australia and New Zealand; to do so will work against you.

  • Including salary information: Remuneration matters are best brought up in the interview.

  • Making typos and grammatical errors: Recruiters have zero tolerance for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Don’t rely solely on the spellchecker to catch errors.

  • Making your resume too long: Recruiters don’t want to read a novel. Limit your resume to two or three pages even if you’re in a senior role.

  • Attaching wads of paper: Only attach certificates and reference letters when requested.

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