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While resumes differ between countries and from one industry to another, a good resume is one that is easy to read and packed with information employers want to know. Whether you select a skills-based, reverse chronological order resume style or a combination of both, choose the layout which best presents your skills and experience - one that puts your best assets forward. 

A conventional layout or reverse chronological order resume is the style most commonly used by Australian jobseekers. It sets out:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Contact details
  • Education/Qualifications
  • A summary of your most recent job tracing back to your first job
  • Your personal achievements, extra-curricular activities (hobbies) and community involvement
  • Details of at least two referees.

Selling yourself to a potential employee in the space of 3-4 pages is not easy, but if your information is to the point, well formatted with a logical flow and is eye-catching it will be effective.

Here are some tips:

  • Use headings to group relevant information together. Headings should be bold but not bold and underlined - it's too much
  • Summarise information - employers don't want irrelevant information or too much detailed information not relevant to the job.
  • The best resumes are brief - think less is more.
  • Include facts about your skills and experiences that are relevant to the employer and can be of use to the employer - give them a sense that this is the only job you are applying for.
  • Don't use a set format or template - employers dislike copied resumes.
  • Select a font that is easy to read and available on most computer operating systems. Arial, Times Roman, Helvetica and Geneva in 11 point are good choices.
  • Contact details and your career history/summary should be centered - align all other information to the left.
  • Use dot points - provided they are just the one type.
  • Avoid using colours.
  • If sending your job application online, be sure to save your resume as a PDF file to avoid any distortion occurring during sending. Avoid the use of silly email addresses.
  • If sending your application the conventional way, use plain white paper stapled together with your name and page number featured on each page (in case the pages are separated). Use an A4 envelope to post the application - don't fold it!
  • Do two or three drafts to get the layout and wording just right - and have someone proofread it for you.
  • For mature workers with an extensive work history there's no need to summarise every job you've ever had - simply list the position, company and dates of your earlier or least relevant jobs.
  • You are not legally obliged to include you marital status or age.
  • Before listing a referee on your resume, check to see if the person is happy to declare their support for you. If the answer is yes, then ensure they have a copy of your resume and keep them up-to-date on your progress.
  • Avoid gaps in your employment history. Don't expect the potential employer to know your past - if there are holes in your employment history you might like to mention briefly why. 

Read a sample resume

Download sample resume (PDF 28KB)