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Resume and cover letter tips

Resume Tips

A resume is the first step for all candidates applying for a job, a successful resume will outline your current and past education, skills, awards/achievements and volunteer exercises (school activities included).

A well written resume provides future employers a brief snapshot of who you are and what your strengths are which allows them a chance to understand and evaluate whether a candidates would be a reasonable fit for their business or culture.

Keep your resume short and concise, close to two pages, and if a cover letter isn’t required include a career objective or development goal in your resume detailing how you best fit the job. It is critical to the business to realize that you are interested in the prospective role.

Be sure to include the following information:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your full residential address
  3. All your phone and email contact details. Among these should be a phone number that can be accessed after-hours, preferably your mobile. Your email address should be an email account that you are able to access daily with an appropriate and professional address. If not, set up a new email address purely for your job searching.

Here are a couple of resume templates to get you started:

Resume Template – Early Career

Resume Template

Education and qualifications

List your qualifications starting with the most recent and including:

  1. The year you obtained the qualification
  2. Qualification level (e.g. Certificate III – Plumbing and Gasfitting)
  3. The institution or school where you completed your qualification and its location (e.g. AGA, Deer Park)

Work history and experience

List all your relevant work history and experience starting with the most recent and including:

  1. Position name (e.g. Administration Assistant)
  2. Company where you worked (e.g. Melbourne)
  3. Date you started and finished your employment there (e.g. July 2011 – Present or July 2011 – May 2013)
  4. A brief list of your main tasks and responsibilities in that role. Include any awards, honours and accomplishments you achieved.

Skill set

List your skill set and level of skill. For example:

  • Punctual
  • Good customer service
  • Microsoft Office software (intermediate)


List at least two or three references. One should be from your direct manager or supervisor but you can also include people you’ve worked with as character references. If you are a school leaver who has not worked before, you may include teachers or sporting club officials. Do not include references’ personal contact details without their permission!

Additional information

Employers might be interested in information such as:

  • Drivers licence or car
  • Police Check
  • Membership to certain industry organisations
  • Volunteer work
  • Personal interests that are work-related

Other notes

  • Don’t be dishonest on your resume. In the end, skill shortages are always evident.
  • Keep it simple, clear and short (two to three pages maximum).
  • Always check your spelling and grammar before sending it out.
  • Don’t use fancy or decorative fonts.
  • Email it in a pdf format to avoid software conflicts/defaults.

Cover Letter Tips

A cover letter is an essential part of your job application; many recruitment managers will not even consider or look at a resume that is not accompanied with a cover letter. It should demonstrate to the reader that you have read the job description and advert carefully and that you are truly interested in that particular business and role.

Be sure to:

  1. Be to the point. Clearly link your experience to the specific role being advertised.
  2. Make sure that your cover letter is not more than three to four paragraphs long and no more than one page.
  3. Reflect a positive and upbeat tone in your word choice. By doing this, the employment consultant /manager will be more likely to read through your resume.
  4. Your letter should be addressed to the person named in the advert. This is your contact person. However, it may not be the person handling the application/interview process through to completion.
  5. The cover letter should clearly state why you believe you are the right person/candidate to fill this position. In other words, convey specific qualities that you will bring to the employer’s workplace if you get the job.
  6. Spell check so that there are no errors. Mistakes in a cover letter indicate a sloppy approach to a job prospect.
  7. Avoid using a stock-standard cover letter template for all your job applications – you are more likely to leave in unrelated wording from your last job application which will come across as sloppy. While it’s good to get ideas, ultimately, you should write your own cover letter for each application.
  8. If the job advert displays a job or reference number, include it on your cover letter. For example:
    Ref/Job No.: 600777006
    Position: Administration Assistant
    Company: MAS National
    Location: Northcote

If your application is being sent via email, make sure that you enter the position and reference/job number in the ‘Subject’ line.

The cover letter should not repeat the same information in your resume. It should reflect the position and make the skill/experience connection between the position and your resume. Remember, you need to write a new Cover Letter for each specific job application. Don’t send out one uniform template for all applications.