I think most stressful days were when I started hunting for jobs as an International Student. All I received was rejection after rejection. Discouraged and demotivated, I asked myself how could this happen when the employer didn’t even interview me? I started to research online and listening to HR consultants. Undoubtedly, the problem was my resume. I drew the conclusion that the “best practices” for resume writing I learnt in my home country was irrelevant in Australian job market. For the next couple of weeks, I started to research, attended seminars and met with a University career’s counsellor and revamped my resume. That’s when I received responses and successfully locked in interviews.
I am going to tell you how to write a resume by sharing all that I learnt, a free resume template and keywords you can use.
Without further ado, let’s get started to build your resume to impress!
A huge shout-out to my Alma mater, University of New South Wales, for their guidance on resume writing and this article is primarily based on their insights.
Analysing the vacancy
- The importance of this step is to understand what the employer is looking in an ideal candidate. They exactly lay out what they want in the job advert.
- Highlight the five key attributes in the job posting that you consider the most important.
- These attributes must be addressed across your resume along with relevant examples.
Building your resume
This resume structure is relevant for any vacancy. You can download the FREE checklist (at the bottom of the article) and I have detailed out each point on the checklist below.
1. General formatting
- Resume must be simple and professional.
- Black font on white background.
- Easy to read fonts like Calibri (11pt), Arial (11pt) or Times New Roman (12pt).
- It should be no longer than 3 pages, even better if you could restrict it to two pages. The longer it gets, the recruiters may omit important points.
- Key sections of the resume must stand out – use bold or capital letters – to ensure the recruiters spot the information when they skim through the resume.
- Be consistent – the formatting must be the same for the entire resume.
- Place dates on the right hand side – as dates are not considered as important as other information. Follow Australian format DD-MM-YYYY.
- All skills and experiences must be explained in short paragraphs or in bullet points.
- Check for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.
- Use spell checker – there is nothing more unprofessional than spelling errors.
- Use accurate tense for the sentences – past tense to describe past events and present tense for current events.
2. Resume format
Now we look at what to write in a resume.
The header must only contain your name (first and last name is sufficient), mobile number, a professional email address that contains your name, an Australian residential address and a link to your LinkedIn profile. International Students may state their preferred “English” name – Thu Phong (Anna) Nguyen. Do not include, your date of birth, gender, photograph and marital status.
1 High St Kingsford NSW | 0412345678 | firstname.lastname@example.org | linkedin.com/john
The first section must be a summary career profile. This is a short paragraph or preferably bullet points featuring three (3) to five (5) key selling points relevant for the particular job.
Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Management) at the University of Melbourne:
- Completed a 3 month internship at ABC Conglomerate.
- Advanced skills in Microsoft Office Suite, Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
- A high level of motivation demonstrated by maintaining an excellent academic record whilst working part-time.
Your qualifications must be stated in chronological order from newest to oldest with completed dates. Under each qualification, mention your overall credits if above average. If you have job specific subjects in which you excelled, these can be highlighted along with any awards and scholarships you have received for academic excellence.
If you have several qualifications, include only the relevant qualifications for the job. Some recruiters may reject your application if they feel you are overqualified based on your long-list of qualifications.
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical and Bio-molecular) Expected Nov 2019
- Maintained a credit average of 85%.
- Awarded “Best Presenter”at the Annual Presentation Competition 2017.
Under this section, it is important to give emphasis on relevant experiences. In order to do so, you can use headings Relevant Experience and Other Experience. Each place of employment must be accompanied by time of employment, designation and key achievements.
The key achievements should not merely be your job description, it should indicate to the recruiter the skills you developed and applied in performing your role, refer to below examples.
× Contacted internal and external stakeholders to assess the project returns.
√ Demonstrated strong and interpersonal and communication skills through contacting internal and external stakeholders to assess the project returns.
Showing your achievements through figures has far more impact to the recruiter than simple statements.
× Attending and assisting customers walking to the store.
√ Provided excellent customer service by assisting 200 customers every shift.
If you do not have experience, you can list down projects you have worked on during your studies that may be relevant for the job.
Everything relevant for the job must appear first (relevant experience, relevant qualifications). Within each section, arrange to chronological order, newest to oldest.
This section of the resume is particularly important for those who don’t have any or many years of experience. The extracurricular activities highlights the transferable skills to their potential employment. The activities can range from excelling in sports, volunteering, languages you learnt, positions you held in student board and so forth. These activities should be relevant to the job in a way that it underlines the soft skills you developed. For instance if the job requires the candidate to be an excellent team player, your experience in playing a team sport is invaluable. For certain activities you may elaborate further on your involvement and interest.
President for University Science Society (2017-2018)
- Organised and planned the Annual Science Fair.
- Presented annual plans and budgets to student board and investors to gain funding for research.
Professional Memberships and Professional Training
Any current Professional memberships or training that are relevant for the job could be added here. Clearly state your current status for professional membership: student member, executive member, etc.
This section is optional. I would recommend you leave this out if you can’t find anything interesting or relevant to the job.
Share your personal blog if you are applying as a freelance writer for a magazine.
You must indicate this if required in the advertisement. Or your may, if you feel it would add a benefit to your resume.
Many candidates overlook this section as unimportant, but the chance you are getting or not getting the job could be between your references and that of the other candidate. How to write references in your resume?
- When you select references, be sure to let them know and seek their permission to use them.
- Share your resume so the person has a better understanding of your experiences.
- This goes without saying, provide referees who has a positive impression of you.
- It is recommended you provide professional rather than personal references. This means, be it your colleague, manager, lecturer, thesis supervisor or team-mate, a person / people you have dealt at a professional level.
- Be sure to include updated contact details (phone number and email), a short description of your relationship to the referee and their availability.
- You may use international references, but provide at least one local reference.
– A checklist to guide on the dos and don’ts of resume writing.
– List of active verbs to describe your achievements – this list will inspire you to construct meaningful and varying statements to describe your achievements.
– Resume template to understand how to integrate the points discussed above in to the final product.
– Another resume template – hope it helps.
We are working on providing more resume templates. If you would like us to share templates for specific jobs, write to us on email@example.com. We will take your feedback on board!
Until next time…