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How to write a winning resume

Competition for jobs can be tough—thousands are looking for work. First impressions are therefore critical and that starts with your resume.

Did you know that the first 60 seconds will seal your fate? That’s how long a potential employer or recruiter will spend scanning your resume to see if it goes into the ‘unsuitable’ or ‘potential’ pile.  You need to make these seconds work hard for you to get shortlisted. If you don’t WOW you won’t WIN.

Here are our top tips for writing a winning resume. They’re drawn from our Managing Director, Kate Prior’s best-selling book, Resume Success Secrets: How to write a resume that gets the job!, available through Amazon.

Tip #1—tailor your resume to the position

  • Always, always, always tailor your content to the position and selection criteria. Tailoring means you’ll include the most important and relevant information first. It also shows you care.

Tip #2—front cover and contact details

  • Make sure you incorporate important essentials on the cover, including your name, email address, mobile and alternative contact.
  • Include your citizenship (whether you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident of the type of visa you hold).
  • Include if you have a Government Security Clearance and, if so, whether it is current. The same with a valid Police check.
  • Add a photo but make sure you are represented as if you were on your way to an interview, dressed in professional attire and well groomed. No selfies or happy snaps. Look straight into the camera and smile.

Tip #3—strong overview

  • Include 10 to 12 short and succinct dot points outlining your strengths.
  • Include hard skills, which are the specific skills you need to do the job such as your leadership skills, organisational skills, time management skills and strategic skills.
  • Include soft skills, which are your people skills such as your communications skills, interpersonal skills and your ability to think and reason and be a team player.
  • Tailor your skills to the role; match them against the job description and/or selection criteria.
  • Use strong, powerful, punchy words that draw attention.

Tip #4—list education and courses

  • List your degrees, academic qualifications and relevant courses.
  • List each in chronological order (most recent first).
  • Include the name of the educational institution or training organisation, the name of the degree or course (complete and accurate) and the year you completed it.
  • Only list what is relevant. If you have a Master’s Degree, for example, you don’t need to include that you once managed a coffee shop on your resume.

Tip #5—experience

  • Include organisations you’ve worked for with a short paragraph about what each does so the reader has context.
  • Include your job title and start and finish date.
  • List your duties and your responsibilities.
  • Always include one or two major achievements for each position, avoiding broad generalisations. So, for example, don’t just say ‘you succeeded in completing a task’. Illustrate how (for example, exceeding deadlines or targets, meeting budgets, exceeding a key performance indicator).

Tip #6—interests and hobbies

  • List your interests and hobbies to give your potential employer a better understanding of who you are. This information can be used as an ice breaker during interview.
  • Always list volunteer work to demonstrate that you give back to the community.

Tip #7—referees

  • You have three options for listing referees:
  1. State ‘Referees provided on request.’
  2. List two suitable referees with their contact details (make sure they have agreed in advance to act as your reference).
  3. List one suitable referee with their contact details and state ‘Additional referees provided on request.’

Tip #8—video introduction

  • This is optional but producing a short video (4o to 60 seconds maximum) to tell your prospective employer a bit about yourself, and including this as a link in your resume, can be invaluable.
  • You can use your phone or a video camera.

Tip #9—get the look

  • Use one of our free resume templates for your resume, to ensure you include the right content in the right order.
  • Our free resume template is designed to ensure your resume can easily be scanned, uses effective white space, uses sharp bullet points and is laid out well (no clutter).
  • Make sure each bullet point is not more than 1.5 lines in length and never covers more than one topic.

Tip #10—length

  • Keep your resume to five pages maximum. Anything longer is too long.
  • To help manage length, remember that you don’t have to put everything you’ve done in your resume. Recruiters and prospective employers are most interested in what your last two or three positions were, not what you did, say, a decade ago.

If you register for prospective work with us, our expert team of recruiters can help you polish your resume. You can register with us online or contact for general enquiries or send your resume to us.

Other valuable resources

Once you’ve developed a winning resume, it will be time to focus on learning about the:

  1. 22 most frequently asked interview questions
  2. How to interview like a professional
  3. Top tips for when a recruiter calls

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We can help you find your perfect job

Whether it’s your first job, a new job, a career change, a promotion or re-entering the workforce after a break, we’re here. face2face will help you create a winning resume, boost your interview skills, and support you to find your perfect position.

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