Here’s a detailed look at what to include in your resume. The way you organise information in your resume will depend on your current situation, the type of role you are applying for and employer requirements.

In general:

  • The first page of your resume should include the information most relevant to the job you are applying for, with less relevant information placed towards the end of the document.
  • Organise information under each heading in reverse chronological order (in other words,  list the current or most recent activity first).

Here are the key headings most commonly included in resumes for students and recent graduates.

Personal details

  • name
  • address
  • email address
  • contact phone number
  • your customised LinkedIn profile page

If you prefer to be called something other than the name on your birth certificate, you can use this on your resume. A resume is not a legal document, so you are not breaking the law if you call yourself Jamie instead of James.

Don’t include your marital status, religion, or age (it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of these).

If you have obtained residency status or citizenship it may be helpful to state this on your resume so the employer understands that you have the right to work in Australia.

EXAMPLE

Jimmy Watson

333 Lygon St Carlton VIC 3053

Ph: 0444 888 888

Email: jimmy.watson@emailaccount.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/jimmywatson

Career objective or summary

Your career objective should be concise and tailored to the job you are applying for. It should reinforce to the employer that your goals and theirs are aligned. The career objective is essentially an abbreviated ‘elevator pitch’.

If you have been employed in your field for more than three years, a career summary would be more effective. Research by Bright & Earl (2008) found that people who included a career objective or career summary on their resumes were more likely to be invited to attend an interview.

EXAMPLES

Career objective

As a graduate with a major in politics and history I am seeking a position where I can use my analytical and communication skills in an organisation developing and implementing public policy.

Career summary

A Marketing & Public Relations Professional with three years proven expertise assisting organisations increase sales and product awareness. Achieved results which increased the bottom line.

Qualifications / Education

In this section include:

  • course title
  • full name of institution (La Trobe University, not ‘La Trobe’)
  • dates studied (include your expected completion date if you are currently studying)
  • majors (if applicable or relevant)
  • major projects, research papers, theses, etc.

Sometimes it may be helpful to include a selection of subjects you have studied, however you would normally do this if they’re particularly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Don’t include your results in your resume unless they are especially good.

It is optional to include your secondary education. Your primary school education is irrelevant to employers. If you have completed other qualifications, such as a TAFE certificate or first aid certificate, consider the best place to position this on your resume. If it is directly relevant to the job, include it in this section, if not, it could go in a section at the back of your resume called ‘Training’.

EXAMPLE

Education

Master of Accounting, La Trobe University – 2013 -present

  • Expected completion date November 2014

Bachelor of Business, La Trobe University, 2012

  • Majors: Accounting & Marketing
  • Accepted into the Golden Key network for academic achievement (top 15% of students)
  • Victorian Certificate of Education, Parade College, 2009

Employment

In this section, include details from previous employment, including:

  • job title
  • company name
  • dates you worked (months and years)
  • position responsibilities
  • statements highlighting your achievements

You can use sub-headings to highlight the most relevant information (e.g. ‘Industry Related Employment’ for relevant employment, and ‘Other Employment’ for less relevant employment).

If you have had a number of jobs with similar responsibilities, you may group them under one sub-heading. (For instance, if you have had multiple jobs as a waiter, list your job title as ‘Waiter’ and below that list the dates and places where you worked as a waiter in order of most to least recent experience. Underneath, list the responsibilities of those waiting jobs as though it was one position).

Keep your position responsibilities brief, and try to focus on achievements.

All employment (full-time, casual, part-time and voluntary) is important when you are starting out in your career as it illustrates that you are employable and that you have developed skills that may be transferable from one job to another.

EXAMPLE

Employment

Waitress

Three Hat Chinese Restaurant, Southbank, May 2012 to present (casual)

As a waitress for this well-known restaurant, I was responsible for ensuring that customers experience met their expectations. Each shift I set tables, memorised the specials of the day, and checked the bookings list to identify any regular customers. I was responsible for greeting customers, showing them to their table, recommending menu specials and assisting with wine selection.

Achievements:

  • Received praise from a high profile customer who gave me a $200 tip
  • Regularly received positive feedback from customers
  • Met targets for upselling customers to the most expensive banquet

Skills

Research by Bright and Earl (2007) found that including details of your skills or competencies increases your chance of being offered an interview by 30%. In your skills section, use sub-headings for the skills that you want to highlight (e.g. communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership skills). For each of these headings, use dot points followed by action verbs and statements that demonstrate that skill.

EXAMPLE

Organisational skills

  • Planned and coordinated training sessions for the Eltham junior basketball team for 3 years
  • Organised staff rosters for up to 8 staff at the Toys ‘R’ Us
  • Communication skills
  • Ranked first in my subject for an assessment task, where I delivered a 15 minute presentation on the governments’ plan to save the Murray Darling Basin
  • As a customer service officer in my part-time jobs, I have developed extensive experience communicating with customers over a five year period

TIP: Use the STAR model to provide evidence of your skills.

Achievements

Include any special achievements (as distinct from normal university course work or core activities that were part of paid roles).

Questions to help you think of relevant achievements

  • What projects are you proud of that support your job objective?
  • What are some quantifiable results that point out your ability?
  • When did you positively affect the organization, the bottom line, your boss, your co-workers, your clients?
  • What awards, commendations, publications, etc., have you achieved that relate to your job objective?
  • Are you good at using the skills required for this job? When have you demonstrated that to be true?
  • What activities, paid and unpaid, have you done that used skills you’ll be using at your new job?
  • When did someone “sit up and take notice” of how skilled you are?
  • What promotions have you had?
  • How have you increased sales figures?
  • Have you run a project to change something in your company?
  • Have you worked as part of a team? What did you achieve together?
  • Are there awards or prizes you have won?
  • Have you achieved good results in exams or assessments?
  • Are there additional qualifications you’ve gained?
  • Employee of the month award
  • Customer service / quality awards
  • Outside-work achievements – raising money for charity, being elected to a committee
  • Winning a league, a race, captaining a sports team

Professional memberships

Include membership of industry/professional bodies, as it indicates that you have a genuine commitment to your profession. If you haven’t joined a professional association as a student, try and do so as it is very helpful in building your networks and opening up job opportunities for when you graduate.

EXAMPLE

Australian Human Resources Institute

  • Student Member since 2012

Publications / conference presentations

If you are an honours or postgraduate student, you may have been successful at publishing a journal article or had a poster or paper accepted for presentation at a conference. Make sure you include these, but think about your audience. If applying for further study or academic roles, you should list the publications in the same way as in a reference section in a paper. If you are applying for employment with an organisation, then you may wish to highlight these in terms of demonstration of skills – such as public speaking / presentation skills or written communication.

EXAMPLE

Conference Presentations

  • I have developed experience in delivering presentations at professional and academic conferences.

2013 Australian Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference: ‘An analysis of return to work plans in the public service, 1990 – 2004’.

For some professions, you must complete a minimum amount of professional development (or PD) each year. This might be a number of hours or points. It is a good idea to list the conferences, seminars, workshops and additional training that you undertake to demonstrate your continued professional development.

EXAMPLE

Professional development

  • Introduction to BAS Statements Webinar, presented by the Australian Tax Office, February 2013
  • Understanding the Taxation Act 2012 Seminar, presented by CPA Australia, Melbourne, December 2012
  • Using the Myers-Brigg to develop your team, 2 day workshop, MBT International, Sydney July 2011

Extra-curricular activities

If you have been involved in sports clubs, student clubs or societies, include details here. Your focus should be on highlighting how these activities have contributed to your development of skills that are valued by employers.

EXAMPLE

Extra-curricular activities

Chemistry Students Association Committee Member, 2011 – 2012

  • As a committee member I contributed to organising social events, fundraising and the governance of the association.

Volunteering

You should format this section in the same way you format your employment history. Sometimes you may wish to include your voluntary experience in your employment history if it was directly relevant to your field of interest.

Referees

It is no longer considered compulsory to include a list of referees on your resume. Generally employers will only conduct reference checks on candidate whom they have interviewed. However, if the employer specifically requests details of references as part of the application, then you need to include these. Always make sure you keep in contact with your referees so that they know to expect a phone call.

If you do wish to include the names and contact details at the end of your resume, it is usual to list two or three people. Always choose referees who have supervised your employment or volunteering duties. Academics can be used, but only ask those who know you well.

EXAMPLES

Referees

References  available on request.

Referees

Mr J. Bloggs

Manager

LMN Company Pty Ltd

Email: jblogss@lmncompany.com.au

Phone: 03 2222 2222