RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS

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1 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS CURTIN CAREERS CENTRE CURTIN UNILIFE

2 02 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS Explore Connect Grow The Curtin Careers Centre provides a range of resources for students interested in enhancing their career potential. Our services include: career counselling with professional career development consultants; assistance with job search skills and job applications, resume checks, a mentoring program and an online jobs board (Jobs & Events Connect); employer presesentations on campus throughout the academic year; plus workshops and information sessions on a range of career topics. We also host the Curtin Careers Fair, WA s premier university-based fair, along with faculty careers fairs and the Experience Works Fair. Engage with Curtin Careers Centre today to reach your career goal tomorrow! Contacting the Careers Centre Location: Building 303, level 2 Phone: (08) Skype: CurtinCareersCentre (by appointment only) Website: Access new jobs posted daily, workshop information, special events and employer presentations through Jobs & Events Connect. Register to attend workshops:

3 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 03 CONTENTS Resumes...Page 04 Career Objective and Career Summary...Page 05 Education, Training and Certification...Page 06 Highlighting Your Skills...Page 07 Work History...Page 08 Other Sections of Your Resume...Page 10 Cover Letters...Page 12 Sample Cover Letter Format...Page 13 References...Page 14 Notes...Page 15 Explore Connect Grow

4 04 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS RESUMES There are many ways to write a resume. The framework provided here is designed to assist you to write a competitive resume that will capture an employer s attention. This workbook highlights some of the key sections often included in a standard resume. However, we encourage you to adapt these suggestions to your personal circumstances and professional requirements. Professional associations within your industry (e.g. the Design Institute of Australia or The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia) can often provide additional information about current employer expectations of job applicants. The Role of a Resume The aim of your job application is to convince the employer to shortlist you for an interview. Your resume plays an important role in this task. While it lists key facts, such as contact details and qualifications, you can also use this document to: portray yourself as a professional person who is enthusiastic about working with the specific employer reading your application; demonstrate your written communication skills and ability to use computer software; show how your skills, values, knowledge and experience provide you with the capacity to excel in the particular role you are applying for, and with the particular employer you are applying to. One way to approach the task of writing your resume is to consider the analogy of an advertising agency developing a television commercial. The agency does research on their target audience to determine what these specific consumers need. They then adapt their advertising campaign to highlight the ways that the product meets those needs. This increases the likelihood that the consumer will purchase the product. Try to to put yourself in the recruiter s shoes and think strategically about what they might be looking for in your document? How can you best present your information to match those expectations and requirements? Conversations with Human Resources staff from large organisations such as Deloitte and Worley Parsons reveal that a job applicant has anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds to make a good initial impression with their resume. It makes sense, therefore, to include the information of greatest relevance and interest to the employer on the front page of your resume. Your contact details should be clearly listed on the first page. It is important to include a phone number, an address, a home address, and, if the position you are applying for requires it, the type of drivers licence you have. You do not need to include date of birth, marital status, health status, nationality, or visa status.

5 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 05 CAREER OBJECTIVE & CAREER SUMMARY Career Objective There is some debate among career advisors over whether or not it is useful to include a career objective in your resume (Hansen n.d.). If you do choose to write one it is important to do it well and with a good understanding of its purpose. A career objective is an opportunity to explain what you can do for the employer you are contacting. It might focus the skills, knowledge and values that you would like to apply in your workplace, for example. Your career objective should only be two to three sentences long. The aim is to demonstrate that you understand what the employer is seeking and that you are an excellent candidate for the position. Writing a career objective to engage with the needs of the employer you are targeting can be a good way to check your compatability with the organisation and the role. If you read your statement back to yourself and you feel that it matches the organisational culture, but not your personal goals, you may want to reassess whether this is the right career move for you. Writing a career objective is completely optional. You may find it helpful to do some research on careers websites to make sure that you have a good understanding of how to use this resume component effectively. Career Summary A career summary (also referred to as a career overview or a career profile) is useful if you have a substantial work history, if you are making a career change or if there are gaps in your resume that you feel need to be explained (e.g. you have taken time out of the workforce to care for family). It is not necessary for recent graduates who entered university immediately after completing high school to write a career summary, unless they have especially relevant extracurricular experiences that need to be highlighted for potential employers. Effective career summaries are usually three to four sentences long and focus on concrete facts. A career summary may be used as an alternative to a career objective and can include a statement about professional goals in the final sentence (Southam 2010). You may also like to search online for some other suggestions about writing strong career summaries (e.g. Lynch Simpson 2011).

6 06 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS EDUCATION, TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION Formal qualifications often provide the focus for at least one of the essential selection criteria listed for professional positions. Because education is a key priority for many employers it makes sense to inlcude your list of qualifications on the first page of your resume. This is especially true for recent graduates, and for job applicants in the process of changing careers with the help of a new educational qualification. However, the most important thing to remember throughout your application, and your resume in particular, is to highlight the elements of your experience that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. If you have professional experience that is closely related to the position it is probably more strategic to list that ahead of education (Career Owl n.d.). Education, training, certification and professional development can be included under a single heading or listed as separate categories. It is useful to think about the core messages that you wish to communicate to the employer when deciding how to present this information. Do you want to highlight some aspects of your education over others? Do you want to demonstrate your commitment to ongoing professional development in a single area or do you want to emphasise the diversity of your education? Readability is also an important factor, especially given that the employer may look at your resume for less than a minute. Formal Education: Tips List your highest level of education first. If you have not yet completed this degree, list it first and include your expected date of completion. Include full titles of the qualification and the institution, duration of study, year of completion, and any special honours acquired. You might also consider including your course weighted average for your Curtin degree if it is 65 or higher. Don t list specific units unless requested. If you feel that the title of your degree does not adequately describe your expertise, you can highlight relevant areas of study in your cover letter. If you have recently finished secondary school, you may choose to include details of the school, notable achievements whilst there, and your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank. If you have completed some of your education outside of Australia, include the location of the educational institution. Professional Development List conferences, presentations and training sessions you have attended that may be of interest to the employer you are targeting. Include the name of the event, the host organisation, the location and the date. If you gave a presention at the event, include the title or topic. Position this section in your resume according to its relevance to the position and its status alongside your other credentials (Page 2010).

7 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 07 HIGHLIGHTING YOUR SKILLS A Key Skills section provides you with an opportunity to highlight strengths and experience that are especially relevant to the position you are applying for. Carefully analyse the job advertisement, duty statement and selection criteria so that you have a clear understanding of the specific skills your potential employer is searching for. It is very important that you do not simply list your skills. Employers are looking for real life examples of how you have demonstrated the skills you claim to have. It is therefore important to provide evidence of your excellent communication skills or your capacity to be a good team player. The Department of Education, Science and Training and the Australian National Training Authority (2002) funded a project to analyse and report on current business requirements for employability skills in recent graduates. The results identified the following eight key skills employers are looking for in recent graduates: Communication skills; Team work; Problem solving; Self-management; Planning and organising; Learning; Initiative and enterprise; and Technology skills. You can access the Employability Skills Framework at You might include evidence drawn from the following areas to demonstrate your key skills: successful project outcomes; challenging or interesting projects you have worked on that may be relevant to the position you are applying for; positive feedback you have received from teachers, colleagues, supervisors or clients; documents, presentations or other products associated with your use of computers and technology; and workplace interactions. Consider placing this section on the first page of your resume. List your skills and accomplishments in combination with evidence from real-life experiences. These dot points could be grouped under relevant headings (e.g. Communication Skills) Here is a good example: Well developed customer service skills demonstrated in my role as a Customer Service Officer at Telstra, where I was awarded Sales Person of the Year in 2009 and received a number of positive feedback reports from customers. Note: Different Resumes Styles You may come across references to functional, targeted, chronological and hybrid or combination resumes. We draw in elements of all these approaches in this workbook. The most important point to remember, however, is to present your information in a way that communicates as clearly and effectively as possible, and that reflects the interests of the particular employer you are approaching.

8 08 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS WORK HISTORY Employment History This section of your resume focuses on the paid work you have done previously. If you have never been employed, if your experience of paid employment is minimal, or if your previous employment is not directly related to the job you are applying for, you might consider using the broader heading of work experience. Work, in this context, can include unpaid experience such as professional placements, practicum work, or volunteering. Here are some tips for writing the employment history section of your resume: if you have held many paid positions, select those that are most relevant to the role you are applying for (including casual and part time work). list jobs in reverse chronological order (i.e. the most recent first). an exception to the reverse chronological rule can occur if your current employment does not relate to the job you are applying for, but your previous employment does. In this case, the most relevant employment details should be listed first. include the name of the organisation you are working for and the position title, then use dot points to describe your duties and achievements. These should be listed according to relevance. don t repeat information used elsewhere in your resume. only describe the organisation you worked for if its title does not clearly indicate its purpose. think strategically about the message you want to communicate when choosing how to incorporate dates of past employment, especially if there are gaps in your work history. Unpaid Work Experience Work experience could also be used as a heading to differentiate between unpaid experience and paid employment. The sequence of this information in your resume can be determined according to its relevance. For example, if you have completed a practicum that is highly relevant to the position you are applying for, you might choose to position this above your employment history, especially if the latter includes a series of casual positions that are not clearly related. If you have substantial relevant experience you may even choose to leave the least relevant items out of your resume altogether. Volunteer or Community Work Evidence of volunteer work can demonstrate to employers that you are motivated and positively engaged in your community (Veidelis 2009). Explain your volunteer role and list key projects you have worked on so that potential employers understand the nature of your contribution. Both these sections can be presented in the same way as your employment history section. Use dot points to highlight duties and achievements, and, where possible, link these to the requirements listed in the job advertisement by using the similar keywords. Use consistent formatting across all employment related sections of your resume.

9 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 09 OTHER SECTIONS OF YOUR RESUME Awards This section provides an opportunity to highlight any awards or special acknowledgements you have acquired in professional or educational contexts. Here are some tips for writing this section: awards associated with study might be included in the Education section of your resume or in the Awards section. only use awards achieved in secondary school if you have recently graduated and if they are clearly relevant. For example being awarded the role of prefect or team captain may demonstrate leadership skills. include the award title and give a summary of what it recognises (if not already obvious). avoid using jargon and abbreviations. Professional Associations Professional associations are representative bodies for particualr professions or industries (e.g. The Australian Anthropological Society or the Design Institute of Australia). Refer to graduateopportunities.com for a list of professional associations in Australia. Here are some sugggestions for listing the associations you have membership of : Interests Many people include an interest section in their resume. The pros and cons of an interest section are detailed below: Your personal interests may indicate you have skills or knowledge in an area that may be related to your career. For example, a journalism student may list photography as an interest. this section can demonstrate that you value variety and maintain a work-life balance. shared interests may spark conversation during the interview or highlight common ground with your interviewer. Obviously personal interests are not always directly relevant to the job you are applying for. Reflect carefully on what this section might communicate about your suitability as an employee. What are your motivations for including it? How does it fit into your overall strategy? list your level membership (e.g. student, associate or professional) and the length of time that you have been a member; include only those that are current and relevant; include roles, responsibilities and projects you have undertaken for your professional association.

10 10 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS OTHER SECTIONS OF YOUR RESUME Referees Employers often ask for contact details of two or three professional referees to be included in job applications. You will increase your chances of being shortlisted if you meet this requirement. Here are some tips for choosing your referees: consider using a combination of previous or current employers; lecturers or tutors you have developed a relationship with; community / volunteer supervisors; and work experience / practicum supervisors. think about how well your potential referees communicate and whether they will be convincing and enthusiastic advocates of your abilities (Isbister 2011); select referees who have worked closely with you in more senior positions and who can attest to your skills in areas of particular relevance to the role you are applying for (Isbister 2011). There are conflicting opinions on whether names of referees should or should not be included on a resume. One argument for only providing this information on request is that it allows you to monitor contacts (Isbister 2011). However, referees are usually only approached at the final stage of the selection process, after the candidate has been interviewed. The interviewer will often request permission to do this at this point. We recommend that students list referees in all job applications for maximum transparency and ease. If you are entering a new industry as a graduate it is also less likely that you will have concerns about confidentiality in well established professional networks. Remember to ask your referees if they are willing to provide a report for you before listing them in your resume. It is also helpful to provide them with a copy of your application, so that they will be prepared if they are contacted. General Resume Tips Use consistent formatting and clear layout so the resume is easy to read. Proofread your work to avoid errors. Include all requested information. Tailor to individual employers. Highlight strengths (de-emphasise weaknesses). Be results-oriented. List successes in previous positions. Back up all claims with evidence (use your iportfolio to gather this evidence - www. iportfolio.curtin.edu.au). Be concise. Include just enough detail to demonstrate what you have achieved. Use a professional voice message for the telephone number on your resume and check it regularly. Do not include salary information or expectations. Do not discuss reasons for leaving previous employment. Do not include names of supervisors for the jobs you list in your work history section.

11 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 11 COVER LETTERS A cover letter provides a formal introduction to a job application. A good letter explains why the applicant is interested in the position and highlights the fit between their most relevant skills and knowledge and the employers requirements. It is usually only one page. The cover letter is important. It is a critical opportunity to make a good first impression on your reader, so it is usually worthwhile investing time and effort. You can use this letter to demonstrate that you have researched the organisation and matched your experience carefully to the position. It may be helpful to think of your cover letter as a sales pitch that aims to sell your personal and professional attributes to the prospective employer. The AIDA formula is used in the marketing industry to develop effective advertising campaigns and can be usefully applied to cover letters (Baker 2010). AIDA is a acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Attention Different strategies will capture the attention of different readers. Communicate your understanding of the organisation s values and operations in the first sentence. If you are applying to a large organisation with a Human Resources section, clearly state the position you are applying for and how you learned about it. If you are approaching a small business and have spoken to the contact person you might begin with Following up on our conversation.... For a position that requires a lot of creativity, you might capture the employer s attention by using an unexpected approach (ensuring that your communication is clear and concise). Your second sentence might focus on your eligibility for the position as a way of holding the reader s attention. Here is an example: I enclose my application in response to the position of, advertised in... My education, work experience, and personal values qualify me well for this role. Interest Maintain the interest of your prospective employer by summarising your relevant knowledge and experience. You might outline your education, work experience and personal values to alert the reader to particular information in your resume. For example: My five years at has taught me much about office administration. For the past two years, I have coordinated projects. My studies at Curtin University complement my work experience in... industry. Desire Set up the action ; reiterate the qualities and abilities you would bring to the position and the organisation. For example: My education and work experience have prepared me for a leadership role in office administration.

12 12 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS COVER LETTERS Action State the action you would like the reader to take. Request an interview and close with your contact details. For example, I would be grateful for the opportunity to talk with you about my application You can contact me at. if you would like to arrange an interview. Submitting your application electronically If you are submitting your job application electronically it is a good idea to save your documents as PDF files to ensure that your fomatting remains in place. If a different type of file is specified (e.g. Word), it may be safest to use simple formatting. It is also useful to prepare an electronic version of your signature to insert at the end of your cover letter if you do not intend to print and scan a hard copy. A cover letter is usually attached or uploaded as a separate document, unless the employer requests that the application be submitted as a single document. If you are using , write a brief, formal message stating your purpose and listing the documents you have submitted (e.g. please find attached my application for the advertised position of ). Sign off formally with Sincerely and your name. Cover Letter Checklist Have you... proofread the letter twice to check that spelling and grammar are correct? listed a phone number where a message can be left if necessary? removed all reference to previous job applications? inserted the correct date? clearly identified the position you are applying for? provided evidence for all the claims you have made about your skills and values? succinctly demonstrated why you are genuinely interested in this position and organisation, and why you are a suitable candidate? used formal writing style and incorporated key words? followed all instructions specified by the employer? attached all necessary supporting documents? signed your name? used adequate margins, single spacing between lines, double spacing between paragraphs and size professional font?

13 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 13 SAMPLE COVER LETTER FORMAT Your Address Date Potential Employer s Address Dear Re: Position title and reference number Paragraph 1: Assert your interest in the position, re-state the title of the position and indicate where you heard about it or saw it advertised and on what date. [Attention]. Paragraph 2: This is where you can explain your relevant technical experience, including education and training, work experience, and other things you have done in the past that may be relevant and impressive to a potential employer. [Interest / Desire] Paragraph 3: In this paragraph, you could outline your related personal skills. These skills are the employability competencies that employers require. You can use the position description, job advertisement or company website to help identify the important personal skills you need to highlight. You are more likely to convince an employer that you have excellent communication or time management skills if you can back up your statements with evidence (e.g. My work at Coles Myer has provided me with extensive experience of managing customer complaints. This role has increased my ability to communicate clearly and calmly, strengthened my interpersonal skills and required me to apply well-developed problem solving skills). [Interest / Desire] Paragraph 4: You could mention the other parts of your application here (e.g. resume, responses to selection criteria), state that you would like to talk further about your application and thank the employer for their consideration. Include your most direct contact details, ideally a mobile number or a home phone number. [Action] Yours sincerely/faithfully Your Name Your academic credentials (e.g. BA, Honours)

14 14 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS REFERENCES Baker, S How to Write Cover Letter Part II- Lessons from the Sales Copy Pros. One Click Cover Letters. (accessed Februrary 8, 2011). Department of Education, Science and Training, and the Australian National Training Authority Employability Skills for the Future. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Career Owl. n.d. Education on the Resume. Resumes/Res_Frame.htm?res_education.htm~right (accessed Februrary 3, 2011). Hansen, K. n.d. Should You Use a Career Objective on Your Resume? Quintessential Careers. (accessed Februrary 2, 2011). Isbister, H Choosing the right referees. Career FAQs. com.au/resume-cover-letter-tips/535/choosing-the-right-referees (accessed Februrary 6, 2011). Lynch Simpson, C Crafting A Stellar Career Summary For Your Resume. Ezine Articles. Resume&id=1962 (accessed Februrary 3, 2011). Page, K How to List Professional Development on a Resume. ehow. (accessed Februrary 3, 2011). Southam, K Resume writing - the basics: Get the most out of your resume. Career One. (accessed Februrary 3, 2011). Veidelis, L Clean up Australia and boost your career. Career FAQs. careerfaqs.com.au/employment-news/1159/clean-up-australia-and-boostyour-career (accessed Februrary 4, 2011).

15 Notes... RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS 15

16 RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS Explore Connect Grow CURTIN CAREERS CENTRE JOBS & EVENTS CONNECT Curtin Careers Centre Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Disclaimer and Copyright Information. Copyright Curtin University of Technology Information in this publication is correct at the time of printing and valid for 2011, but may change from time to time. Curtin will not be liable to you or to any other person for any loss or damage (including direct, consequential or economic loss or damage) however caused and whether by negligence or otherwise that may result directly or indirectly from the use of this publication. This publication is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be directed to the Curtin Careers Centre on

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